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Kiev in pictures: monster traffic jams, metro as a refuge from bombs… panic seizes the inhabitants

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Kiev froze on Thursday after the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Scenes of crushes and reflexes that resurface in times of war have multiplied today. The inhabitants of the Ukrainian capital fear shortages and the stalemate of the conflict. Pictures.

A climate of mistrust took hold of Kiev on Thursday, amid gunfire, the din of sirens and explosions, even as many residents tried by all means to flee the capital after the launch of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Concern was mounting among the population as the city is regularly overflown by planes and the Ukrainian military airport of Hostomel, located a few kilometers away, was attacked. Images of shelling of civilians shocked.

Shopping rush

Residents who chose to stay lined up outside banks and shops to try to withdraw money and collect supplies, while others tried to leave the city by car, bus or plane. Several scenes of crushes in stores have been shared on social networks.

Other long queues, this time showing the solidarity of the Ukrainian people, have spread across the country after the president’s call to donate blood.

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Monster traffic jam

A huge traffic jam of several tens of kilometers blocked the main road to flee to Lviv, a city located in the western part of Ukraine, considered safer, the Russian offensive coming from the east. “I’m leaving because a war has started, Putin attacked us,” said Oxana, the driver of one of the cars stuck in traffic with her three-year-old daughter in the backseat. “We are afraid of the bombardments.”

Residents took refuge en masse in the capital’s metro for fear of the bombings.

For now, Oxana just wants out of Kiev, the center of power in Ukraine and the seat of government, the presidency and parliament. Once outside the capital, she will decide where to go, she stresses.

Another driver, Aleksander, says he wants to return to Kyiv once he has taken his children to safety. “The mood is patriotic,” he said. “We will fight. Ukraine will win no matter what.”

“Real men” and real “patriots”

Another driver, stuck in traffic, called “the real men, the patriots” to mobilize. “I believe that we must pull ourselves together and inflict a severe response to Russian aggression,” he said, without giving his first name.

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“Forgive me for saying this, but I think we have to fight hard against anyone who invades our country. I would hang every one of them from a bridge.”

The fear of being trapped

Others feel caught off guard, despite weeks of warnings from Ukrainian and Western leaders that a Russian attack is imminent.

“I didn’t expect it. Until this morning, I thought nothing would happen,” admits Nikita, a 34-year-old marketer, while queuing in a supermarket, bottles of water stacked in his cart. “I packed my things, bought some food and I’m going to stay at home with my family.”

Some now fear being trapped in the clashes. “Nobody tells us what happened, what will happen to our flight, what we have to do, where to go. We have nowhere to go. Nobody answers us,” says Gulnara, a traveler whose flight from Kiev’s main airport to Baku was cancelled.

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