As I sit here in Kyiv on a sunny Sunday morning, I can’t quite figure out what to do next. My plans when I left Boston two weeks ago never imagined this as a possibility. I thought I would be happy trekking through the western part of the country with Lviv being the only big city safe enough to visit, let alone stay in. And it was lovely even with the ever-present sirens.
Kyiv is much quieter, and not just because the shops and restaurants are largely closed. There are far fewer sirens. I haven’t visited a basement once in the four days I’ve been here. It’s pretty much closed down. But it gets busier each passing day and it was great to see Boris Johnson touring the place with President Zelensky on a Meet the Press taping on YouTube (thank God for YouTube as none of my premium channels will play over here). Even the Asian fusion restaurant around the corner has reopened, much to my taste buds’ celebration.
Yes, there are still the occasional barricades, plenty of sandbags, and parked armored vehicles here and there. And don’t even think about taking any videos or photos of a soldier or policeman lest you be chased down and forced to delete such. But everything else is cool. I got some great shots of Independence Square, some grand churches, shops, the river, and all kinds of touristy stuff.
It is a miracle that I am here at all. Of course, I am no military expert, but it would seem that The Battle of Kyiv will have to go down as one of the great military victories (and defeats) in European history, certainly of modern times. The combination of Ukrainian soldiers and leadership with American/Western weaponry and logistics seems to have created a new paradigm.
When the war began in late February almost everyone thought that Kyiv would fall within days. Everyone, that is, except the Ukrainians. Remember that endless column of armor? Gone. Poof! Like they were never here if you walk around Kyiv now. Still, there are plenty of soldiers out and about (never knew there were so many versions of AK-47s) but they were heavily outnumbered by regular citizens on Palm Sunday afternoon. Damage? Haven’t seen any yet, though I am near the city center. Which, of course, is great. But not quite what one expects given the news footage. And the atrocities in Bucha and other places are real, and I am heading to see them. This documentary needs to try to document these places and the horrific acts that have happened.
So, what to do next. That’s easy I suppose--I’m here to document, so I’ll head to where the worst did happen and see what there is to see. I’ll head to Irpin and Bucha. And then to the grand infamous prize of all given my interest in the nuclear sites, Chernobyl.
I’m still planning to walk much of this. Though I suppose it’s of less importance given the new opportunities and expanded territory that has opened. And my doctor still wants me to get that exercise I was planning, though that backpack is a lot heavier than I imagined.