Sunday, September 24

‘Risk of dying is high’, says Mayor Kyiv to those who wish to return | Ukraine

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, has warned those who fled Ukraine’s capital at the start of the war with Russia not to return as “the risk of dying is pretty high”, even as he offered a glint of normality by partially lifting an alcohol ban.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion said he expected “huge battles” in the coming days in satellite towns and the outskirts of the city, which Russian forces have repeatedly tried but failed to encircle.

“The risk of dying is pretty high, and that’s why my advice to anyone who wants to come back is: please, take a little bit more time,” he said.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a political adviser to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, echoed the greatest’s concerns.

He said Russian attacks were continuing around Kyiv and the encircled city of Chernihiv, 100 miles to the north, despite claims from the Kremlin that they were withdrawing out of respect for the ongoing peace talks. “Our troops are chasing them both to the north-west and north-east [of Kyiv]pushing the enemy away from Kyiv,” Arestovych said.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed Russian forces were planning to use a church north-west of Kyiv as a launchpad for a new assault. The official said: “We believe the Russian military is using this staging point as part of its assault on Kyiv.”

At least 2 million people – half of the city’s population – fled Kyiv in the first few weeks of the conflict as Russian troops made their way to its north-eastern edge with the intention of storming the capital and likely decapitating the government.

Also Read  Who is the leader of the female ISIS battalion in Syria that sought to carry out terrorist attacks in the US?

That plan failed, and the relaxation on Friday of the prohibition on the sale of alcohol in shops and the hospitality industry that has been imposed since 1 March had offered residents in Kyiv some glint of normality. Under the regulations, alcohol can now be bought between 11am and 4pm. The initial ban had initially been imposed due to fears of public disorder.

On Friday, at the Flowers and Mafia corner bar in Kontraktova yesquare, in the heart of the old town of Kyiv, Andriy Andruschenko, 27, was nursing a small glass of cider, his first since before the war, while chatting with a couple of friends. Serving at the bar, Anna Golik, 23, said there had been a handful of others ordering a beer earlier in the day and that she hoped it would be the start of a “renaissance” for the city.

Andruschenko, a freelance web designer, said, however, that he had no illusions that life was close to returning to normal. He had only recently returned from evacuating his girlfriend to Poland and a missile had struck close to his flat just two days earlier, forcing him to move in with a friend. “So many people are very tense,” he said.

There are, however, signs of the city inching towards a more normal pattern of life. Ten minutes’ walk south through the city centre, past multiple checkpoints, sandbags and khaki-covered protective positions guarded by stern men grasping AK47 rifles, Iryna Asosok, 43, and Viktoria Shkurat, the owners of a small convenience store on Sofiivska street, near Independence Square, said a customer had come in that morning seeking a bottle of wine to give his daughter for her birthday. “We also had a few people asking for beer, the weaker stuff, but we only have whiskey, vodka and champagne,” Asosok said.

Also Read  Newcastle all but safe after Bruno Guimarães' late header sinks Leicester | premier league

Ukrainian railways said about 5,000 people had traveled to Kyiv between 25 March and 1 April.

Arriving at Kyiv’s central railway station from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Mary Mykolaivna, 73, said she had fled with her family after on 27 February but that she wanted to be home. “I feel safe,” she said. “The walls of my Ukrainian house will protect me, but I left my daughter and her 16-year-old son from her there. My daughter Nataly wants to move abroad.”

Dymtro Shevchuk, 20, a barman at a second Flowers and Mafia bar on Sofiivska street, fled with his friends the day the war started for his grandparents house’ in the village of Rushyn, 100 miles south-east of Kyiv.

He said he had returned on Wednesday, bored and keen to earn some money. Shevchuk said he was one of three of the 15 to 20 members of staff who work for the bar chain in Kyiv to have returned despite the risks. “I was worried about coming back, but my desire to be here was bigger,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *