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A reporter in Kyiv remains in the capital city and has no plans to leave


What is it like to live in Ukraine's capital while it's under attack? Ukrainian forces remain in control of Kyiv, though Russian forces seem to be building up their strength outside. The reporters covering the city include Asami Terajima of the news site The Kyiv Independent. Welcome to the program.

ASAMI TERAJIMA: Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: I'm just going to call attention to your publication here. I've been reading The Kyiv Independent kind of obsessively, and I appreciate it very much, so thanks for what you do. Now, what is the new routine of daily life?

TERAJIMA: So our daily life - it's basically - we are regular - we're watching the news 24/7 because we need to be aware of what's happening, and we need to take all measures to ensure that we are safe and that the safety of our families and friends is all right. But at the same time, Ukraine has been under - Russia has already launched war against Ukraine 2014, so people have been stressed for all these years. More than 13,000 Ukrainians have died in Donbas region, so it's difficult time for everyone, but people are doing their best to stay calm and doing their best to - for example, like, they are packed. They're ready to go if something does happen. But for those who are staying in apartments, especially, people are just, like, trying to encourage each other and trying to stay, you know, united with one another.

INSKEEP: I'm glad you mentioned people who are packed or ready to go if something happened. I mean, something is happening. We've heard of thousands of people who fled. Who chooses to stay, and why?

TERAJIMA: So there are people who - I mean, not everyone can afford to leave - right? - because going to another city or even a foreign - another country, that's not affordable for all Ukrainians. The average Ukraine is approximately $600 a month, so that's difficult to afford, you know, like, living abroad or living in another city. They have their own homes. And many who are staying here would rather stay here in their own home, and many would also - would like to protect their homeland, to protect their city that they love and they lived for many years.

INSKEEP: Is there food and supplies?

TERAJIMA: So I went to a nearby supermarket yesterday and a grocery store as well. So at the supermarket, there's a long line, so I didn't get the chance to go in. But this small grocery store - so there were no bread, no grains, but there were also no vegetables and fruits. So I think the fresh product did the stock. Fresh products and grains are, like, - the food that lasts long is limited, but there's other - plenty of other food available.

INSKEEP: So you may not get the meal you want or you may not be able to stock up the pantry, but you're able to get something. Is that what you're telling me?

TERAJIMA: Yes, and no one is panic-buying. Everyone is only buying whatever they need for the next couple of days.

INSKEEP: When, if at all, do you go to a shelter? We've certainly talked with and seen images of many people spending the nights in the subway stations.

TERAJIMA: So there are people who would rather stay in subway station because it's deeper. Ukraine historically has very deep metro stations. Ukraine also has the world's deepest metro station in Kyiv. So yeah, like, there are people who feel safer in metro station, but it's also not comfortable to stay there for a long time. I spent there two hours myself, and, yeah, I had to sleep on the floor for a couple of - a little bit so and work on the floor, so it's not comfortable. So many people did go back after spending several nights there, but we're all ready if something that - if there's, for example, shelling nearby, then we should all head to a nearby shelter or somewhere that's where safety is ensured.

INSKEEP: I want to note - people have followed the past several days now as Kyiv has fended off Russian attackers, but the Russian military seems to be bringing in more force. How do you see the next few days or weeks, and what is your long-term plan, if you have one?

TERAJIMA: So I think it will be a very difficult - the upcoming days or even weeks could be very difficult for the Ukrainian military and for Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian military, however, has been so heroic for the past few - over the past few days. They are fighting against a much stronger enemy. But we need more manpower. We need more arms. So we will see what happens, and we're doing our best to stay calm and just analyze the situation rationally. And yeah, I plan to stay here for a foreseeable future in Kyiv, but that is not 100%. But most likely, I will be staying here.

INSKEEP: What would you most want, in terms of help from the world?

TERAJIMA: I would welcome - so the West has been really supportive, and they've imposed - they've been imposing more and more sanctions against Russia, which have been good because now we're making Russian economy suffer even more. But we need to make sure that they suffer even more. They suffer - we need to make sure that the war costs Russia so much that they want - they would recall their force, and they would pull their troops back. And we need to make sure that Russia gets isolated from the world as much as possible, and that includes taking away Russia's membership in the Security Council of the U.N.

INSKEEP: Asami Terajima is a reporter for The Kyiv Independent. Thanks so much.

TERAJIMA: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.