As Russian troops approach the Ukrainian capital, the mayor of Kyiv is filled with pride for the spirit of his citizens and worries about how long they may last.
In an interview with on Sunday after a grueling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, Mayor Vitali Klitschko was silent for a few seconds when asked if he planned to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to capture Kiev.
“We can’t do that because all the roads are blocked,” he said at last. “Now we are surrounded.”
When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the city of 2.8 million people initially reacted with concern, but also with some instability. However, nerves began to break when grocery stores closed, and the famous deep subway system turned stations into bomb shelters.
The mayor confirmed to the AP that at the moment in Kiev killed nine civilians, including one child.
The curfew on Klitschko’s orders began around sunset on Saturday and will last until at least 8 a.m. Monday. His order clearly stated that anyone outside could be considered a saboteur.
“We are hunting for these people, and it will be much easier if no one is on the street,” Klitschko said, saying that six Russian “saboteurs” had been killed on Saturday night.
The advance of Russian troops into the city was slower than many military experts had expected.
“I just talked to the president (Vladimir Zelensky). Everyone is not feeling well, ”Klitschko said, adding that Ukrainian city officials were shocked but not depressed. “We show our character, our knowledge, our values.”
The last few days have seen long queues of people, both men and women, waiting to pick up weapons after authorities decided to freely distribute weapons to anyone willing to defend the city. However, there are fears of arming upset civilians with little military experience amid warnings of Russian saboteurs disguised as Ukrainian police or journalists.
“Honestly, we do not have 100% control,” Klitschko said. “We built this territorial defense in a short time – but these are patriotic people.”
“Now the most important issue is to protect our country,” he added.
Asked about the city’s ability to replenish declining food and medicine supplies, Klitschko’s view, however, has changed.
“We are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said. “Now we have electricity, now our homes have water and heating. But the infrastructure is destroyed to deliver food and medicine.”
Then, in the same breath, he rallied as the world heavyweight boxing champion he once was.
“Therefore, the message to all: support Ukraine together … We are strong,” he said. “Every Ukrainian is proud to be independent, proud to be Ukrainian, and we are proud to have our own country.”
Follow all the AP materials about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on https://apnew.com/hub/russia-ukraine.