ERR correspondent in Kyiv: Main public fear is nuclear threat

Scene inside the Kyiv metro station being used as a bomb shelter.
Scene inside the Kyiv metro station being used as a bomb shelter. Source: Kristjan Svirgsden

The main public fear in Ukrainian capital Kyiv revolves around threats made by Russia's president to use nuclear weapons, ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev said Monday morning. Aleksejev had spent the second night in a Kyiv metro station, where they said the mood remained patriotic and life went on as best it could, with water supplies and electricity and internet connections remaining intact.

Speaking by phone to Raadio 2's morning show, Aleksejev, who is accompanied in Kyiv by ETV cameraman Kristjan Svirgsden, said that over 100 people were sleeping on the floor of the Kyiv metro, though Aleksejev and Svirgsden themselves have had to make do with the hard seats of a train carriage.

"It's a little cold, but there is water and air, we can eat in the meantime. Life is going on," Akelsejev told Raadio 2.

While metro staff have been handing out aid packages, there is not enough to go round, he added.

Electricity and internet are, however, functioning, though exiting the metro station, which for safety purposes cannot be named, was currently not permitted, due to the military situation on the ground.

Among those taking shelter, there is a range of opinions, from those who want to stay inside, to those who want to evacuate the capital with their families, to those who want to go to fight at the front, he said.

"The mood is very patriotic, for sure," Aleksejev said.

Claims made in Russia, with president of that cuntry Vladimir Putin stating that ethnic Russians in Ukraine need "protection from genocide", make no sense, Aleksejev said, given that people taking refuge are communicating in Russian as much as anything.

He said: "It's difficult to understand what their mother tongue is – everyone is bilingual and nationality here is not the point, the point is the people's mood. They are Ukrainians, citizens of their country, and these [invasion] forces are certainly foreigners to them."

ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev talking to 'Terevisioon' from inside the Kyiv metro station. Source: ERR

It is also clear that Putin's attempt at a brief, shock war has failed, Aleksejev added.

"People hope that the negotiations will bring some results," he said, adding that the specter of nuclear weapons is the threat people fear most.

"The threat of a nuclear weapon shows Putin's weakness, where if conventional weapons fail, the last chance is to kill and take as many people as possible. On the other hand, everyone is afraid, since a nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon," he went on.

Putin has ordered Russia's military to put its deterrence forces, including nuclear weapons, on special alert.

While life in the metro shelter is well-organized, it is clear that, for many people, it is the first time they have been in a situation like that, and many are unprepared. As an example, some people removed their clothing before sleeping, which Aleksejev said he advised against, as it would get cold in the subway at night.

Overall, the situation at the time Aleksejev spoke to Raadio 2, shortly before 7.30 a..m Estonian (and indeed Kyiv) time

Aleksejev also spoke to ETV morning show "Terevisioon", saying that the information operation looked the same on both sides: The Russian side posting videos and photos which depicted their troops being everywhere and that it was a lost cause for Ukraine, while the Ukrainian side did the same, showing that their country is still holding out. In any case, fighting continues, Aleksejev said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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