Mariya Kadurina wrapped a quilt around her four-year-old son as he sat in front of their still-smoking block of flats in Kyiv after a Russian missile attack Tuesday.
Kyiv's residents were woken Tuesday by sirens and explosions as Russia fired a deadly barrage of missiles at Ukrainian cities, leading Ukraine's defense minister to accuse Moscow of deliberately targeting residential areas.
“We live – we used to live – here,” the 29-year-old said, her eyes looking wild and her lips bleeding.
“That's it. We don't have anything.”
Kadurina is a taxi driver and her car was also destroyed in the attack.
The long grey Soviet-era block on Kudryashova Street near Kyiv's central rail station was hit and set on fire during the morning’s heavy attacks on the capital. Two people were killed and 49 others were wounded.
Hours later, smoke still poured from several flats, there was a smell of burning, and shattered glass littered the pavement opposite. Exhausted firefighters were working to extinguish smoldering blackened remains of flats.
Behind the building was a crater, suggesting a downed missile fell but exploded on impact.
Ukraine claimed to have shot down most of the missiles Russia fired in its latest assault, but buildings were hit by debris and some missiles may have gotten through.
The building's residents, some bandaged, were standing around or warming themselves along with a cat and some dogs in a heated tent set up by the Polish Red Cross.
Kadurina said she was getting her son ready for kindergarten in her third-floor flat when she heard the explosions.
“I lay down on top of him. I got a bit cut up by the shrapnel but the child didn't, thank God.”
People said that the force of the blast had jammed the doors of the building so those trying to flee had to wait for rescuers to let them out.
Kadurina had just a few plastic bags with her and some sweets, which she said was all she had time to grab.
Their possessions were not just smashed by the explosions but also flooded when firefighters sprayed water on upper floors.
“Everything is floating in the flat now,” she said, as helpers came to take her and her son to a heated waiting place on the cold grey morning.
- ‘Give us shells’ -
Another resident, 79-year-old Galina Solovyova, wore a bandage wrapped around her face after hitting her head during the explosion.
“It's a real horror to be left without anything,” she said, being helped by her 27-year-old grandson and her daughter, who lived with her on the 7th floor.
But she chuckled as she described crawling through the rubble and being unable to find any warm trousers for her grandson, who towered above her, finally giving him a pair of her own.
“What should I do, cry? We'll probably cry later,” she said.
“But even then, it's unlikely. We'll hold on.”
The city authorities said the Russian attacks had hit infrastructure and for the first time this winter caused power, water and gas cuts in several districts.
The strikes came after a long period of relative calm boosted confidence in the air defense's ability to protect the capital.
Valentyna Gerda smoked, standing opposite the block. Her flat was on the first floor so it was less damaged, she said, but the windows were blown out and the locks on the doors no longer work.
Her neighbors suffered worse, the 53-year-old said: “I saw an elderly lady. She was in such a bad condition. My neighbor on the 5th floor has wounds to her face. Another neighbor has wounds to her arm and stomach.”
“This is what they (the Russians) are doing to us,” she said, becoming tearful and struggling to speak.
“It's very painful,” said Gerda, who sells toys and bicycles for a living.
There was also anger that the city's air defenses had not preserved their homes, as well as pleas for Ukraine to get more help from its partners.
“There's no protection,” said Gerda.
“I wish they would at least give us some shells, at least something, at least some protection for the sky.”
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