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With Ukraine under attack, Kyiv's residents rush to stock up and reach safety

People hug outside a metro station in Kyiv on Thursday morning as Russia launched an attack on Ukraine and explosions could be heard in the city.
Daniel Leal
AFP via Getty Images
People hug outside a metro station in Kyiv on Thursday morning as Russia launched an attack on Ukraine and explosions could be heard in the city.

Russia's wide-scale invasion of Ukraine has dramatically changed the mood in Kyiv, as a nation comes to grips with the new reality that it is at war. Many Ukrainians had been maintaining a state of calm as warning signs grew that Russian President Vladimir Putin would choose violence over diplomacy.

As Russia launched its early morning attack, people heard air-raid sirens and explosions in locations across Ukraine.

"Many residents of Kyiv are trying to evacuate toward the west," NPR's Tim Mak said on Morning Edition from Ukraine. "There are long lines that we've observed all day at ATMs, gas stations and supermarkets. In fact, right now as I speak to you, we're in line to get gas. Traffic is at a standstill leaving town, making it really difficult for people."

"Obviously, the situation is really quickly evolving," Mak said.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reported that people are starting to panic. "The question is: Do you stay and get trapped, or do you run and face danger on road or bombing?" she said.

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted to impose martial law on all of Ukraine. The body also endorsed the president's declaration of a national emergency.

Lawmakers pledged to remain in their offices in Kyiv and continue working — and Ruslan Stefanchuk, the parliament's chairman, said anyone who leaves is a traitor. He urged regular citizens to stay in their homes.

Stefanchuk called on the international community to act against Putin's decision to invade, saying the stronger that the response against Russia is, the more quickly peace can be restored.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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