Warning: Graphic scenes described
Kyiv, Ukraine – March 22, 2022
By Matthew Hatcher – Special columnist for the Bloomingtonian
It sounds like thunder on the horizon but it’s not. There is a constant deep rumbling coming from the northwest of Kyiv. Sometimes it’s distant and hard to hear, other times the vibrations shake the windows and jolt you out of the deepest sleep. After a day or two, it becomes easier to distinguish what is incoming, what is outgoing, what is the air defense system, and what is the sound of smerch or grad rockets.
Smoke is always on the horizon, and when you hear the crashing thunder of a rocket that hits a building you know to look for the smoke and race to the scene to beat the press pack and get close before access is restricted.
Sometimes you arrive and they are already pulling mangled bodies out of the rubble while those in shock stand nearby covered in blood and staring blankly into oblivion. Other times there is no missile strike and you come to find it is a missile that has been shot out of the sky, which itself can be deadly.
In a basement near where a rocket landed and took out an entire wall, blood is splattered all over the floor and walls, it is unknown the fate of this person, but judging from the amount of blood on the walls and the curtains and bedsheets still soaked and stained crimson it can’t have been good.
The destruction wrought by these explosions is startling. What were once cars, or steel beams, or light poles turn into shards and piles of twisted metal, sometimes thrown hundreds of feet into a wreckage of shattered glass and charred structures. Sometimes there are pieces of people mixed in, flesh still smoldering, and you turn away sickened by the smell.
But this is daily life now in Kyiv for the few who remain on the now vacant streets, death is a dice roll away as they walk beneath the shadow of Russian aggression turned against the civilian populace.
It’s heartbreaking but not surprising, after all this is what war is all about.
Editor’s note: Yesterday marked one month since Russia began its war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022.