From their bomb shelter in Kiev, Oleg and his family listen to blasts from Russian missiles and bombs and the wail of air raid sirens. They huddle alongside 300 other people in the basement of a school while a 40 miles-long convoy of tanks, artillery and soldiers rolls towards the capital.
“I have been in a bomb shelter with my family for five days,” he told Socialist Worker. “It is still possible to go upstairs during the day. But many people no longer risk going upstairs as the air raid alarms are becoming more and more frequent.
“From our bomb shelter, we can hear shelling from the Russian rocket artillery in such areas of Kiev as Borshchagovka, Svyatoshino and Syrets.”
The Russian military intensified its bombing of Kiev on Thursday night. A missile came down near Kiev’s southern rail station, where thousands of people are sheltering or waiting for evacuation. The blast may have cut off central heating to parts of the city amid freezing temperatures. Earlier this week Russian rockets damaged the Holocaust memorial at Babi Yar in the capital.
Oleg says, “Putin talks of ‘denazification’,” but he “destroys peaceful people and children”.
There has been heavy bombing across Kiev region, Lviv, Zhytomyr, Frankivsk, Chernihiv and Odesa. Footage of Borodyanka, a city nearby Kiev, shows the devastation of Russian shelling on Thursday. Fires burn in the balconies of blackened tower blocks, homes are reduced to rubble and burnt-out lorries and cars are strewn in the roads.
Oleg said, “The Russian army calls this ‘point shooting’, but there is not much accuracy here, to put it mildly.
“You already know that during the rocket attack on the Kiev TV tower five people were killed. They were just walking along the road at a fairly large distance from the tower itself. It’s horrible—and this is just one of the many crimes against humanity that we have been seeing for the sixth day.”
“Our bomb shelter is very close to one of the Kiev airports. Any airport in Kyiv is either an object for a missile and bomb strike by the Russian army or a place for the landing of Russian troops.”
Alongside the bombing campaign, people fear a siege of Kiev as the Russian convoy approaches. Oleg said, “The food shortage has already begun. The main problem is with baby food. There are more than 300 people in our bomb shelter and among them about 80 children, including infants.”
Zakhar adds that “people are worried” as “food supply is limited” with “long lines for food and pharmacy”.
In the face of the Putin regime’s brutality, ordinary people in Ukraine have a right to defend themselves.
In Melitopol, people set up the “Headquarters of Civil Resistance to the Occupation”. Hundreds of people protested in the town after Russian troops arrived on Wednesday, refusing to be intimidated as soldiers fired into the air.
Footage from Luhansk, south eastern Ukraine, shows ordinary people confronting a convoy of armoured vehicles.
Every socialist should oppose Vladimir Putin’s invasion and demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. In the West, socialists have to uncompromisingly stand against the US and Nato escalation. The tragedy of Ukraine is that it has been torn apart by inter-imperialist rivalry between the West and Russia.
The hope lies with building an anti-war movement. In Russia that would mean the anti-war protests against Putin grow and inflict severe problems for the regime and in the US and Britain the anti-war movement stops Nato escalation and expansion in eastern Europe. And that in Ukraine, a vision of a country independent of both imperialist camps begins to emerge.
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