Insomnia in kyiv: Putin’s plan is to terrorize Ukrainians with nightly bombing raids on the capital

People look at a fire on top of a residential building after a drone strike, in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Babenko, File) (Alex Babenko/)

The attacks occur at night, when most Kievites are fast asleep. Sirens wail in the Ukrainian capital, waking teary-eyed residents who, after 15 months of war, have customized individual routines to deal with Russia’s latest air campaign.

In the recent escalation of Russian attacks, Olha Bukhno, 65, a cleaner, prays every night. “Please,” she begs, closing her eyes and turning to heaven, “let her shut up.”

Next to his bed is a bag packed with essentials: documents, dry food and water. At the sound of the alarm, she runs down the stairs to the basement of her building and takes cover. Nearly two weeks ago, debris from a downed missile struck the roof of a building next door to his in the Darnytsia district of kyiv, starting a huge fire.

“Every night, we are afraid”he said, crying.

When the alarm goes off, some in the city are consumed with fear, imagining the worst-case scenarios that could unfold; displacement, being trapped under rubble, being killed. Others embrace apathy, lying awake in bed, while the sounds of explosions bounce off the skies.

Sleepless in kyiv: Russian nighttime air campaign terrorizes citizens in Ukrainian capital
Vladimir Golubenko looks at his office damaged by a drone during a night strike in kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Vasilisa Stepanenko)

But in the past month, as Russian airstrikes have escalated to near-nightly raids, most people complain of insomnia. In the war-defying bustle of kyiv’s cafes, restaurants and lounges, business continues despite the ongoing war, but everyone has a story about how tired they feel.

“What can you say? Everyone is exhausted,” said Oleksandr Chubienko, a pharmacist in Darnytsia, describing the recent mood of his clients.

Russia launched another wave of attacks on kyiv in the early hours of Monday using a combination of drones and cruise missiles. More than 40 air targets were shot down in what was the 15th night attack on the capital in May, the head of Kiev’s Military Administration, Serhii Popko, said in a Telegram update. Falling debris tore through the roof of a residential building in the Podlisk district, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

“Another difficult night for the capital,” kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Often the explosions are the sounds of Ukraine’s air defense systems successfully targeting the deadly cocktail of missiles and drones that Russia has sent into Ukraine.. On May 16, Russia launched an exceptionally heavy bombardment, sending 18 missiles in the direction of Ukraine, 14 of which were aimed at kyiv, according to the Ukrainian air force spokesman. Ukraine said it shot down six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles that night, a capability it did not have last year.

Sleepless in kyiv: Russian nighttime air campaign terrorizes citizens in Ukrainian capital
A man inspects his office damaged by a drone during a night strike in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Vasilisa Stepanenko) (Vasilisa Stepanenko/)

On Saturday night, local officials in kyiv said that Ukraine’s capital was subjected to the largest drone attack since the start of the Russian war. At least one person died. He arrived on the eve of kyiv Day, which marks the anniversary of the founding of the city.

The increasingly regular series of strikes is part of a new Russian air campaign targeting Ukraine’s counteroffensive capabilities, Ukrainian experts and officials said. The surge was noted after April 19, just after Ukraine announced it had received US-made Patriot missiles, a long-sought new shield against Russian airstrikes. Observers said the renewed intensity of the Russian attacks appears to be aimed at overwhelming and targeting these new systems.

The May 16 attack caused “minor” damage to a Patriot air defense system near kyiv, US officials said, adding that it was still operational.

The latest series of attacks also comes after an earlier escalation of airstrikes over the winter this year against critical infrastructure, including power plants and military logistics facilities. Ukrainian forces have become more effective at shooting down Russian missiles compared to earlier in the year, with many crediting American systems.

But defense systems cannot protect civilians from all harm. Debris from the destroyed Russian missiles fell on the civilian population, causing fires and injuries.

Sleepless in kyiv: Russian nighttime air campaign terrorizes citizens in Ukrainian capital
FILE – Rescuers extinguish a fire on top of a residential building after a drone strike, in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Babenko, File) (Alex Babenko /)

For many in the city, the sound of the air-raid alarm is accompanied by the constant ringing of Telegram, Ukraine’s preferred app for sharing air-raid updates. With each update: “Another one coming from the east”, “More thrown from the sea! Shelter!” — people respond with an expletive emoji.

But the calculations civilians make about what to do next are often very different in all walks of life, with some staying at home, resigned to their fate, and others rushing to safer spaces.

In Darnitsya, debris left over from the fire was piled inside a large trash can. Charred pieces of wood and insulation lie in the spring sun, while parents stroll with their children and neighbors exchange the latest gossip.

Pavlo Chervinskyi, 45, tells his 4-year-old daughter that it’s all a game as his apartment windows rattle with the distant rumble of nighttime explosions. Whenever there’s an air raid, he takes her out into the hallway and hopes all is clear.

With each punch, he tells her, “Putin is making noise again,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s better than trying to explain to her what’s really going on, he said, watching her make sandcastles on the family’s neighborhood playground. Not exactly a lie, she explained. “We are being subjected to a game of Russian roulette every night.”

Sleepless in kyiv: Russian nighttime air campaign terrorizes citizens in Ukrainian capital
Police inspect an apartment building damaged by a drone during a night strike in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Vasilisa Stepanenko) (Vasilisa Stepanenko/)

But still, it’s best to avoid telling your daughter the whole truth. “It better be a joke between us,” she said. “She is now used to it and she is not afraid.”

He slept through the attacks over the weekend, the businessman said. “At least someone is resting,” he added, with a tired smile.

Mariana Yavolina, a physiotherapist, had the misfortune to move into the residential complex in Darnitsya on the day of the attack. She returned to her new apartment after midnight that night. The air raid alarm was on, but Yavolina had had enough.

He lay down on his sofa and looked up at the ceiling; the first moment of rest for her of the long day. In the distance, explosions resounded.

One, then another. He looked at his Telegram app for updates.

Sleepless in kyiv: Russian nighttime air campaign terrorizes citizens in Ukrainian capital
Men inspect their office damaged by a drone during a night attack, in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, May 28, 2023. The Ukrainian capital was the target of the biggest drone attack since the start of Russia’s war, local officials said. , as Kiev prepared to mark the anniversary of its founding on Sunday. (AP Photo/Vasilisa Stepanenko) (Vasilisa Stepanenko/)

“I try not to take it so seriously,” Yavolina said. “It’s so annoying, and if you want to live for yourself, you can’t be consumed by it all the time.”

Little by little that night, she convinced herself that it was okay to sleep.

The next explosion shook the entire apartment, startling her awake. Outside, plumes of smoke clouded the view as flames erupted from the roof of the building next to him. The stench of burning was overwhelming.

Soon, firefighters and police arrived at the scene and prohibited anyone from taking a video of the remains. But Yavolina filmed anyway and sent the footage to a friend who was serving in the military.

“Just flowers,” he replied, a local idiom meaning it could have been so much worse.

(with information from AP)

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Source-www.infobae.com