As Russian troops inch ever closer to Kyiv, residents of the Ukrainian capital must decide whether they intend to try to flee before it’s too late, assuming they can make it through the overwhelming traffic, or remain put and stick it out until the end.
“Miles of traffic jams have formed in the capital of Ukraine as citizens attempt to flee from Russian forces invading the country,” The Independent reported Thursday.
“The capital’s mayor Vitali Klitschko advised residents to stay home and remain calm, but said to pack a bag with necessities and documents in case they need to leave. Long lines of cars soon blocked roads leading out of Kyiv as people tried to leave for other parts of Ukraine and abroad, while others descended on the train station.”
Leaving is no easy decision.
“The lines of people you’re seeing fleeing their home, each person making a decision to abandon something, somewhere … in order to seek safety elsewhere,” British MP Tom Tugendhat reportedly said Thursday.
“To see these columns of people forced out by naked aggression by Russia and by Vladimir Putin is horrific and extremely painful, and we should be thinking very clearly about the families torn apart, the lives separated.”
🚨 NOW: Population trying to leave Kiev, city stopped in traffic. #Ukraine #UcraniaRussia #UkraineRussiaConflict #news #russia #ukraine #ucrania #Kyiv #putin #war #nato #otan pic.twitter.com/dNEu9lvYl1
— Russia (@russiattacks) February 24, 2022
🇺🇦⚡️Huge traffic jam at the exit from Kiev. pic.twitter.com/5jSsUSJIzM
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_A) February 24, 2022
Traffic in Kiev people trying to get out of the capital pic.twitter.com/qa45WsWsSW
— FreedomWhisperer (@pizdets17) February 24, 2022
Equally horrific are the scenes of an untold number of Ukrainians desperately hiding out in train and subway stations, armed with nothing but their faith.
“From the first onslaught of attacks, Ukrainians packed their bags, bundled up against the cold, and tried to seek refuge in safer areas. In large cities like Kyiv, thousands of people headed to underground subway stations to take shelter from the military assault,” according to BuzzFeed News.
“Built after World War II, many of these underground stations also double as bomb shelters. On Thursday, as Ukraine was under attack, the stations were seen packed with families, including older people and children.”
Christians singing praise to Jesus Christ while sheltering inside a subway station in Kiev.
The Christian spirit shines in darkness. pic.twitter.com/VPyz8w3VIU
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) February 25, 2022
— Mike Hendry (@DShKenthusiast) February 24, 2022
— Post Soviet (@PostSoviet12) February 25, 2022
— World Buzz with Cathy (@BuzzWith) February 25, 2022
— Tali 🇮🇱 🇷🇺 🇺🇦 🇮🇹 🇨🇦 (@TaliSimak2841) February 24, 2022
One of the videos seen above shows Ukrainians singing praise to Christian savior Jesus Chris while sheltering in a Kyiv subway station. The footage is a stark reminder of Ukraine’s devotion to the Christian faith.
“Ukraine is one of the most Christian countries in Europe. … Of the country’s 43 million citizens, 78% identify as members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, up from 39% in 1991. About 10% identify as Roman Catholics. Only 2% are Evangelical Christians, yet Evangelicals play an influential role in Ukrainian government and society,” The Jerusalem Post notes.
But the singing is also a stark reminder of Putin’s distorted attitude toward Christianity. While he purports to be a Christian, he appears to be favorable to only one form of it, namely the Russian Orthodox Church. Other sects have faced persecution in Russia.
“Russia persecutes religious minorities, including evangelical Protestants, through restrictions such as the 2016 Yarovaya Law criminalizing evangelism outside church walls. Russia considers any church beyond the government-influenced Russian Orthodox Church to be sectarian or a cult,” according to Christianity Today.
And so if Russia does ultimately succeed in taking over Ukraine, Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary president Yarsolav “Slavik” Pyzh believes his sect, among others, will have to “go underground.”
“The church will go underground. You have to understand that historically we had that experience before under the Soviet Union. So the church did not forget what does it mean to be persecuted, and I think that we will rearrange, reorganize, and still do what we always do, still preach the gospel,” he told Christianity Today.
As of Friday morning, Russian troops had reportedly entered the outskirts of Kyiv, and Moscow had vowed to continue the assault until Ukraine surrendered.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made it clear that surrender is not an option.
“Ukraine is defending itself and will not surrender its freedom, regardless of what is thought in Moscow. For Ukrainians independence and the right to live on our land with our freedom is the highest value. Russia like a suicidal scoundrel attacked our country this morning, just as fascist Germany did in the years of the second world war,” he reportedly said in remarks made Thursday.
In additional remarks made Friday morning, he vowed to personally stay until the end, even if that means his eventual demise.
“I stay in the capital, I stay with my people. During the day, I held dozens of international talks, directly managed our country. And I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine. My children are also in Ukraine. My family is not traitors. They are the citizens of Ukraine,” he said.
“According to our information, the enemy marked me as the number one target. My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the Head of State.”
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