By Ignacio Ortega
Kyiv, Mar 5 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of residents have decided to abandon this capital ahead of the expected siege by the Russian forces who invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“The city is emptying out. We are leaving, but my husband and my father are staying to fight,” a woman named Nastia told Efe as she her children stood on a platform at Kyiv’s Central Station waiting to board a westbound train.
Most people are headed for Lviv, a city of more than 700,000 people near Ukraine’s border with Poland.
Few of those fleeing the capital have any idea whether they will return. Some have family in Lviv and expect to stay there, at least temporarily, while others say they are confident that international organizations will help them find refuge outside Ukraine.
A steady stream of cars, vans, and even trucks pull up in front of the station, disgorging entire families with the few possessions they can carry.
Abandoned vehicles litter the small square in front of the station.
Inside, it’s barely controlled chaos. With no ticketing and no schedule, people wait for the announcement that their train is boarding – the signal for a mad dash to the platform.
“Where am I going. I don’t know. Wherever,” Bogdana says with a tone of resignation in her voice.
A woman with a baby strapped to her back runs to a train to find it packed, but as a railway employee shouted “passengers to train,” a man helped her and the infant aboard.
Some of the children scream as they get on, while others weep inconsolably as they look out the windows at parents who are remaining in Kyiv to defend the city.
“We have to send our families to a safe place. Otherwise, we can’t be calm,” a thick-set soldier named Yaroslav said with his youngest son clinging to his neck.
But it is not only soldiers and would-be defenders of the capital who are remaining behind
Nastia told Efe that her mother is staying because Kyiv means “everything” to her and, more importantly, because her grandmother refuses to leave. EFE