Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.


A man mourns near a body as airstrike damages an apartment complex outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Photo: Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Footage Shows Ukrainians Seek Shelter and Flee Country as Russia Attacks

"The question now in Kyiv," said one Ukrainian journalist, "is... whether we will survive."

Jessica Corbett

Photos and videos circulating on social media and news networks across the globe Thursday showed Ukrainian civilians using subway stations as emergency shelters, lining up to cross into Poland, and taking in the wreckage from Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"You wake up in a totally new reality at 5:00 am and you find out the world is no longer the safe place you imagined," one Ukrainian woman told CNN's Clarissa Ward in a crowd subway station. "We don't want to be a part of Russia or any other country."

Holding back tears, the woman added that she wants the Russian people to know that the invading forces are "not attacking just the military bases, they're actually attacking in our neighborhoods and they're making us feel insecure and very unsafe."

Scenes of Ukrainians flooding the train stations to escape the Russian attack drew comparisons to Londoners and the Blitz during World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military action before dawn Thursday, sparking swift condemnation from human rights groups and political leaders worldwide as well as protests from people across Russia—who risked arrest to demonstrate against war—and around the world.

As peace advocates took the streets, the International Rescue Committee warned that "the resulting humanitarian catastrophe from a full-scale war in Ukraine will lead to grave human suffering. The world will bear witness to innocent deaths, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and massive displacement inside the country and across Europe."

Russian forces reportedly seized control of Chernobyl, the site of the historic 1986 nuclear disaster. A Ukrainian official said that "the condition of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, confinement, and nuclear waste storage facilities is unknown."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video statement late Thursday that at least 137 Ukrainians have died so far and another 316 were wounded. He also ordered a 90-day military mobilization and barred male citizens ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country.

Some Ukrainians who fled their homes have gone to Poland, which has opened up reception centers for refugees. One reporter captured a traffic jam spanning over six miles at the border.

Photojournalists across Ukraine also captured damage from Russian rocket attacks and distressed civilians seeking safety.

"I am very stressed. I didn't sleep last night," Anna, a resident of the Ukrainian city Chernihiv, said from her vehicle in a video shared by The New York Times. "I was gathering our belongings. And I'm stuck here in traffic, and it's taking too long."

"We all want peace and quiet, we don't want war," said Anastazja, a Polish student who was studying in Ukraine but returned to her home country.

She also called on decision-makers in Russia to end the long-awaited invasion, saying, "Please... stop, because people suffer from it."

While reporters and others within Ukraine shared harrowing footage of Russia's air and ground assault, Reuters also flagged some images and videos that were misrepresented.

Other journalists have created graphics tracking the Russian attacks throughout Ukraine, which is about 233,000 square miles.

Zelenskyy, in his video statement, said that Russian groups have entered the Ukrainian capital and are targeting the president and his family.

"According to our information, the enemy marked me as target No. 1, my family, as target No. 2. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv," he said. "I am staying in the government quarter together with others."

"The question now in Kyiv," said Ukrainian journalist Oleksiy Sorokin, "is... whether we will survive."

Sorokin, who reports for The Kyiv Independent, told MSNBC's Katy Tur that "we were told that we shouldn't exist."

"Kyiv was a European capital. Kyiv had bars, had clubs. We love. We had freedom of speech. We went to movies. We enjoyed life. I had plans for the future. I had an apartment renovation that's ongoing," said Sorokin. "I wanted to live... in the city, in the capital of a European state."

"And because of one madman, one absolutely insane person," he added, referring Putin, "I am sitting in bomb shelter, and my main priority right now is for my grandma, my dad, his family to survive—and that's the world we are living in, in 2022, in Europe."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'We Will Fight! We Will Win!': Nearly 200 Abortion Rights Defenders Arrested in DC

"If people don't see the rage," said one woman at the protest, "nothing changes."

Jon Queally ·

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·

Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo