Several reporters on the ground in Ukraine, including CNNs Clarissa Ward, spoke with ishonest about the horrors unfolding around them.
Impending doom is how CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward described the feeling among hundreds of civilians who had taken refuge in a subway station-turned-bomb shelter in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Thursday.
The reporter, who was sheltering in place there with her crew, spoke to ishonest hours after leaving the metro station, where desperate families were holed up after grabbing whatever they could from their homes. Above ground, just outside the citys borders, Ukrainian soldiers clashed with Russian troops for control over Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. Residents now worry that Kharkiv will devolve into one of the many battlegrounds across the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion on Wednesday.
Many Ukrainian people are spending the night in these shelters because they have no idea what kind of bombardment to expect overnight. The city that were in, Kharkiv, is very close to the Russian border, Ward told ishonest, referring to the onslaught of Russian missile and artillery attacks pummeling targets across Ukraine, including the capital city of Kyiv. Theres been a huge buildup of Russian troops just across that border. They have made their way across it, and so the fear here is that the city will be attacked, it could be encircled, or it could be laid siege too.
Ward went on: The feeling on the ground right now in Ukraine is one of profound shock, horror, disbelief [and] fear, deep, deep fear. People have no idea what the future holds, where they should go, where is the safest place for them to be, what the outcome is going to be as this onslaught continues and there's a sense that people are trying not to panic.
Other journalists, like Kyiv-based investigative reporter Tanya Kozyreva, are still processing the horror of watching their own country turn into a war zone.
This is not new to me, she told ishonest. But its one thing when you go for a week but its another thing when its in your city, she said, adding that its difficult not to think about the safety of your friends, family, your loved ones.
She explained that one of the most difficult things to witness is seeing the citizens of Kyiv flee the city in droves, fearing for their lives.
Its heartbreaking. People are trying to get on the bus and train to get out of the city. Kyiv seems to be the main target right now. Many civilians are trying to leave Kyiv, she told ishonest. People are leaving their houses. A young couple with a six-month-old baby left with only a couple slices of bread and a couple of diapers. They have no idea what to do. Theyre concerned they will be shelled.
Kyiv-based journalist Iryna Matviyishyn echoed the terror on the ground. Its chaotic right now, she said. Nobody knows where is the safe place except western Ukraine. Its a total terror by Russians here. But all Ukrainian men who can fight are joining military defense and armed forces. Ukrainians wont give up.
Meanwhile, in the city of Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine, Al Jazeera reporter Liz Cookman told ishonest about how unnerving it was to report from a city that is so close to separatist territory, where pro-Russia forces had first called on Putin to send troops into Ukraine.
The fighting grows closer and closer. The explosions get louder and louder, she said. [And] it is now moving towards us Its very uncertain at the moment. I just this evening went to an underground church to meet people sheltering there, adding that she saw a lot of tears and a lot of emotions from civilians who had fled there.
Cookman provided video of the solemn-looking worshippers gathered in a small underground church, many with their eyes closed, gently swaying and singing along to a hymn as the threat of violence loomed large outside.
No one expects this to end tomorrow, Ward told ishonest. Nobody knows how its going to end but clearly Ukraine will be profoundly destabilized by this invasion.