Kyiv Diary 5/26/22: The City Wakes Up From a Nightmare

Kyiv Diary, Latest
Locals walks the streets of Kyiv

Moment is publishing regular updates from Helen, a Soviet American Jew living in Kyiv. Read all the diary entries here.

Only weeks ago, life in Kyiv felt abnormal. Of course, we should be grateful that we are not under constant bombing, and that Kyiv was spared from the horrible fate of Kharkiv, Irpin and Bucha, the latter two of which are just outside of Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital nowadays reminds me of what it used to be before the war, despite the sirens that can still be heard every now and then.

The changes are admittedly noticeable. The stores, salons and restaurants are reopening. More and more locals are returning from where they had fled. Sometimes it feels as if the war was a bad dream, in Kyiv at least, because the city was not occupied and was not severely damaged. 

I saw a lot of people on the streets, and they seemed to be in good spirits and smiling.

The city, just like me, is waking up from a nightmare. While many stores are open, there aren’t many customers, perhaps because the price of groceries went up so much. Still, I went to a hair salon the other day. They’ve maintained the pre-war prices, and it was quite busy. 

Kyiv did not fall. Withering Ukrainian artillery and the fearless defense stopped the Russian military. When Putin set out to invade Ukraine, he expected an easy victory. Many experts predicted that, within a week, a pro-Russian puppet regime would be installed in Kyiv.

It didn’t happen. Instead, with the help of Western arms and intelligence, the Ukrainian military fought back and inflicted heavy losses on Russia. Both the world and Ukrainians themselves are proud of Ukraine and its people who withstood the aggression and are now trying to restore their lives.

I think that people are programmed to want more, more joy. But people are thankful that they are alive, that bombs are not falling from the sky. I miss the pre-war times when you could look up at the sky and watch the glint of a passing jet. I dream about traveling, about being on a plane, about seeing my daughter who lives in Boston. 

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