Since the early morning of Feb. 24, the world has watched in horror as the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfurled.
The violence has been intensifying and Ukrainian officials say deaths and injuries are mounting, with thousands of civilians, including children, reported to have died since the invasion began.
Meanwhile, a major refugee crisis is escalating, with the United Nations saying on March 3 that a million people had fled Ukraine. Families have been separated, with men aged 18-60 having been barred from leaving the country. Many of those left behind, and those who have chosen to stay, are sheltering in basements and metro stations, facing shortages of vital supplies like food, water, and medicines.
But no one can better express how the war’s impact is being felt than those living through it. Here, four Ukrainians share how the war is impacting them and their loved ones, what they want the world to know, and how they want the international community to be standing with Ukraine in solidarity and action. For security, only their first names have been used.
I was born in and am currently living in Kyiv. On Feb. 24, at 5:20 a.m., I woke up to the sounds of explosions. My first thought was, has war really begun? I felt scared, I was worried for my loved ones and for myself. I couldn’t grasp why this had happened. No one should have to experience such emotions.
I don’t wish anyone in this world to experience what the nation of Ukraine is going through right now. My wife and I are worried about each other, about our parents who are in their homes outside Kyiv. They are worried about our safety and well-being. We don't know if we'll get through the day or night. No words can express our feelings.
I want the world to know that Putin doesn't only want to destroy Ukraine, he wants to dictate his conditions to the whole world. He has directly said that he is ready to use nuclear weapons. The war in Ukraine is not a local conflict, it's the fight between global good and evil, and who the winner will be depends on all the people in the world.
It depends on the unity and coalition of governments to counteract Putin. Ukraine is a battlefield and we are demonstrating to the whole world that we, the people of Ukraine, are ready to continue fighting, we are ready to die for those we love and even for those we don't know, in the name of truth, freedom, and justice.
Many countries have introduced sanctions against Russia and its leadership, but regretfully not all of them. Every day we must have more countries that say no to war in the 21st century. Sanctions should also be introduced against the close relatives of the Russian leadership. They have to understand, they can either live in a democratic free world or they will be outcasts, ostracized everywhere. Please ask your governments to take decisive actions, if they have not yet done so. Peace on Earth depends on all of you now.
Hello, world. I’m Yuliia from Kyiv. I was born and grew up in this amazing city.
The Black Thursday started at 5:20 a.m., on Feb. 24. I was woken up by the rocket whistle and explosions. It was a horrifying sound that I've never heard before. My only thought was, the war has begun. My husband and I started to call our parents and friends, and our only question was “are you ok?”. Then I started shivering with panic, and I couldn’t understand what to do next. My heart was beating in my ears. I will never forget that morning.
My family and I are still alive. But every day the fights are getting more intense. We can rarely hear silence in the sky. We cannot see our loved ones. It is dangerous to leave the city. The bridges leading to our parents are either destroyed or closed.
Everyone has to understand, this is not just war in Ukraine, this is war against the whole world. The invaders are killing children and families; women are giving birth to their children in bomb shelters; one rocket strike destroys the homes of many civilians. We are living in the basements of our homes and metro stations. We don't have enough food and medicines. Entire cities, squares, and bridges have been destroyed. People cannot get the medical attention they need. Our country is being pummeled into ashes and dust.
We are asking you all for help. We are asking you to stand united with us in this war. Now more than ever, we have to all join our forces and overturn the Russian genocide regime. Give us weapons. If we do not have the means to prevail against this invasion, the whole world will lose.
I am a state employee, and I was born in the region of Poltava and grew up in Kyiv.
I knew the war had begun when the sky was filled with lightning at 6 a.m., during my morning walk. I prayed to god that it was really lightning, but I knew it was an explosion.
We’ve had to make the hard decision to separate our family. I stayed behind, and my wife took our daughter and our pet to flee for their safety, far away from the battlefield.
My name is Valentyna, and I was born and raised in the region of Kharkiv.
I was woken up at 5 a.m. by a call from my relatives who live in Kharkiv. They said there were a lot of explosions in Kharkiv and that Russia had invaded Ukraine.
Some of my family have been forced to leave their homes, some of them were forced to live in shelters without electricity, water, or food.
I want the world to know that this is not a conflict, it is a Russian invasion of Ukraine with more than 2,000 civilians killed during a week.
The international community must clearly understand that Putin's Russia will not be limited to Ukraine. The next target will be Europe. So, it is of crucial importance to stop Russia right now.
There are many ways Global Citizens can take meaningful action to help those impacted by the conflict. Find out more here.