“We will win in the end” – Former Radio Prague journalist describes life in Kyiv suburbs


Alla Větrovcová is a former Radio Prague International journalist who now lives in the suburbs of Kyiv. She described life in Ukraine’s capital as locals wait out the Russian attacks.

Kyiv has been one of the main targets of Russian attacks since the invasion of Ukraine began last week. With Russian encirclement attempts dragging on and the initial attacks on the city faltering, many observers believe it may become the target of a largescale Russian assault supported by heavy artillery which could leave the city in ruins and result in countless civilian casualties.

One of the people living around Ukraine’s capital is Alla Větrovcová, a former Radio Prague International journalist, who says that, despite these worries, the locals are keeping calm and carrying on.

“I am in the Kyiv suburbs, about 10 kilometres from the city itself. We went to buy some food today. Everyone is very serious, but no one is panicking, there are no tensions and people are very friendly. There are also checkpoints everywhere, where documents are checked by territorial defence members, volunteers.”

Kyiv | Photo: Efrem Lukatsky,  ČTK/AP

Ms Větrovcová says that there are no problems yet when it comes to acquiring food supplies and that, with the exception of nightly bombings, things are not too different to life before the invasion.

“We are watching rockets go over our heads every night.  We can see how they are bombing our local military airport and how they are trying to land their paratroopers. We just see huge explosions. A nearby airport was also bombed.

“However, the Ukrainian Air Force is pretty good and, thus far, we are more successful and are fighting on our own territory. We will win in the end. And that is why, although people are still nervous, they see that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are keeping their word and really are fighting for us.”

While temporary breakthroughs by Russian forces do occur in the suburbs, Ms Větrovcová says that these are relatively scarce since the main target is Kyiv itself. Thus far, there have also been relatively few casualties as local residents hide in the metro and in cellars during the night time bombings, she says.

A fire-fighter inspects the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv,  Ukraine,  Feb. 25,  2022 | Photo: Emilio Morenatti,  ČTK/AP

The former Radio Prague International journalist, who worked in the Russian section, says that it is too dangerous to flee Kyiv now. However, she admits that there are also other reasons why she has decided to stay.

“None of my family or friends want to leave. Thirdly, we have dogs. I can’t abandon my dogs. I can’t abandon my father and he isn’t moving anywhere.”

Asked about how people in Ukraine feel about the West’s response to Russian aggression, Ms Větrovcová says that there are hopes for a no-fly zone. However, at the same time, she says that she understands NATO’s fear of escalating the war. From her point of view, truly effective sanctions started being put into place against Russia only after it became apparent that the Ukrainians are fighting for their homeland. Now, she says, Kyivans are noticing the hard international response in the news, which is not only coming from state officials but also from major manufacturers such as Skoda Auto, Hyunday and Mercedes who have halted production in and exports to Russia.