Moment is publishing regular updates from Helen, a Soviet American Jew living in Kyiv. Read all the diary entries here.
Even when pressed, I’m trying not to speak of feeling frightened or facing danger. But we are shaken, to put it mildly, by information that came from Bucha, a half hour drive from Kyiv. It’s more than heartbreaking to read about Russian soldiers killing civilians and raping women and girls; it’s paralyzing. The monstrosities of Russian so-called liberators are beyond comprehension. I have not been sleeping since. My daughter in Boston has always been worried about her parents being in a war zone. But after learning about this massacre, she started losing sleep as well.
We can’t get over the shock that the Russian army keeps destroying the lives and homes of peaceful Ukrainians, burning Ukrainian cities and towns to the ground.
In the news, I saw the rocket attack on a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk, which was jammed with women and children rushing to safer areas in Ukraine. People are splayed on the ground; in a video from the scene, a woman screams, “There are so many corpses, there are children, there are just children!” it’s impossible to lead even a pretense of normal life in Kyiv. I think those monstrosities by the Russian army are aided by the indecisiveness of the world’s politicians.
Everything we have appreciated so much during the war, despite ceaseless sounds of sirens and nearby bombings—like running water, the stable internet connection, watching Netflix at night and our foraging escapades for groceries—seems so insignificant now. It’s almost impossible to enjoy the moments of safety when you are surrounded by such atrocities. I feel disturbed by having the privileges of a “normal” life.
The Nike store opened its doors today. The fancy hair salon on the corner is operating.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko allowed theaters to open starting on April 1. But who can enjoy the theater now, with half of Kyiv’s population gone? At the same time, Klitschko advised women and children not to return to Kyiv yet, saying it is still dangerous, but asked men to come back because there is a lot to be done in the city and someone has to do it.
Of course, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, should—and will—eventually revive.
But it feels like it is going to be a long road. And even with some stores and salons open, the starting point of this recovery hasn’t begun yet. Everything is unsettling. For spring to arrive, first there must be winter.