Life in Kyiv is gradually returning as businesses and public transport reopen.
February 25, the day after Russia entered Ukraine, Kolya Rybytva quickly left Kyiv to the west of the country with her grandmother and sister. Rybytva’s parents and brother fought with everyone.
“The decision was made in minutes and it was one of the toughest decisions of my life, but we all understand that conflict doesn’t offer easy options,” he said.
At the time, Rybytva, 24, thought she might never return to Kyiv. But he returned to the capital two weeks ago when Russian troops began withdrawing from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, focusing on eastern and southern Ukraine. After a month of shelling that destroyed buildings and repeatedly forced people to take refuge in subway stations, a feeling of relative calm has returned to the Ukrainian capital, with many gradually returning to Kyiv.
“It feels weird and hard to explain. This place is not just a home, it’s a symbol. Of course, I really want to hug my family and friends,” he said.
In Kyiv this week, people stopped seeking shelter at train stations and commuted by subway. All subway lines in the city have reopened, but not all stops. There are about 150 buses and 30 trams in operation.
The city council said more than 500 businesses and businesses reopened last week. The Kyiv school district has begun offering online instruction to students, including those in western Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe.
In stark contrast to images of cars leaving the city early in the conflict, vehicle queues reappeared on highways entering the city.
Ukraine’s deputy chief of staff Andrei Smirnov told the media that city officials were considering reopening the trial as the judge had returned to the capital.
Although many have been evacuated from Kyiv, local officials estimate that nearly half of the capital’s 3 million residents are determined to persevere since the conflict began. Like Rybytva’s parents and brother, most of the remaining residents volunteered.
Volunteers purchased rifle scopes and prepared armor to give to soldiers. They also organized a battlefield medical evacuation system and set up kitchens at checkpoints to serve the military.
“Volunteers are another force in the war. Without them, we would lose half of our combat capability,” said Oleksandr Danileuk, a former secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.
Now, Ukrainian volunteers continue to support the military as businesses reopen. Restaurateur and founder of food group Foodies, Yana Zhadan, opened a pizzeria called Bus Station over the weekend. Her company provides free pizza to soldiers and civilians.
“I see three main goals in our work. They are supporting the employees of the company, supporting the city’s economy and life through taxes and payments for services, and operating. Volunteering,” Zadan said.
Zhadan added that her kitchen used to offer free meals for the past month, but now has to turn to businesses to stay afloat. “Everyone wants to be able to do their job well, because that’s how they can make the biggest, most effective contribution,” she said.
“The city is reviving, there are kids on the street, there are flowers in the market, people want to be close to each other,” Zadan said. “And the food will help you feel safe, at least for a while.”
After leaving Kyiv, Rybytva is eager to return because it is “really happy”. His apartment was not damaged. In the hallway his family once used as a shelter, blankets were scattered on the floor. There is still some leftover soup in the kitchen.
“You can’t even believe you’re here when you see familiar streets,” he said.
Cheongdam (according to New York Times)