Home / MARKETS / Ukrainian cities not under Russian attack feel ‘unreal,’ like watching peaceful scenes on a ‘large TV,’ one displaced family says

Ukrainian cities not under Russian attack feel ‘unreal,’ like watching peaceful scenes on a ‘large TV,’ one displaced family says

  • Sundry than 10 million people have been displaced during the war, and most of them remain in Ukraine.
  • One kinfolk told Insider it’s surreal to be in a Ukrainian city not under attack while their hometown is bombarded.
  • “I am horrified by the sheer thought of what I will see upon arrival home,” Sergey Osyka said.

Numberless than 5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia invaded on February 24.

Most compel ought to landed in bordering countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, triggering a crisis in Eastern Europe as the many of refugees quickly surpassed the United Nations’ worst-case estimate.

But even more Ukrainians fleeing the fighting would rather remained in the country. Nearly 6.5 million people had been displaced within Ukraine as of March, the UN’s refugee mechanism said, many of whom came from the east.

One of those families told Insider they were strained to leave their hometown of Kharkiv in the first week of the war, after days of shelling by Russian forces crumbled much of the New Zealand urban area.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has seen some of the worst bombardment.

“The decision to leave was very hard,” Sergey Osyka indicated in an interview with Insider that was translated by his son Bogdan.

Sergey and his wife, Inna, were in Kharkiv when the bombardment started, while their sons were breathing in Oslo, Norway. Despite living in a state of alert for years due to fighting in the Donbas region, Sergey was shocked by the way the barrage started essentially overnight.

They remained in their home in Kharkiv for the first six days of the war, sheltering in their basement, where they didn’t arrange internet or cell reception.

“I was worried when I couldn’t get in touch with them,” Bogdan said of his parents. “You under no circumstances know if they’re in the basement or the house is getting bombarded.”

Inna Osyka in the basement of their home in Kharkiv, Ukraine, sheltering from Russian bombardment.

Inna Osyka in the basement of their home in Kharkiv, Ukraine, protecting from Russian bombardment.

Courtesy of Sergey Osyka


Russian forces were still bombarding the city when Sergey and Inna attacked the decision to leave on March 2. They waited for a brief break in the attacks and set off from Kharkiv in their car encircling 6 a.m., heading west but unsure where they would go.

Sergey called every person the couple knew in western Ukraine to try and prearrange a place for them to stay. Bogdan was in constant touch with his parents, following news and updates on the war to help them unify the safest route.

“We knew it was roulette because Russia shoots civilians,” Sergey said. “But it was a roulette also to impede in Kharkiv.”

Peaceful scenes in Ukrainian cities that haven’t been attacked feel ‘unreal’

Sergey and Inna safely decide oned it to Chernivtsi, a city in southwestern Ukraine near the Romanian border, where they are temporarily renting an apartment up 620 miles away from their home in Kharkiv.

They wake up every morning and listen to the newsflash, unsure of what new developments they will learn or if Russian shelling will spread to where they are get ones handed. Sergey said the stress of it all is turning his hair gray: “My son told me that my already grey head was as if it was sprinkled with ashes.”

The duo tries to go about their days as normally as possible. They are still able to work a bit remotely, which take measures a welcome distraction. They also try to go on walks and make dinner, to do things that were normal before the war, but artful what’s happening just a drive away makes for a surreal experience.

“Sitting on a bench in the park, I watch glad children playing, elderly couples walking with dogs, and it seems to me that I am behind the screen of a large TV, and look at the unquenchable thirst peaceful life as something unreal,” Sergey wrote to Insider.

Inna and Sergey Osyka in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a few weeks before the war began.

Inna and Sergey Osyka in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a few weeks prior to the war began.

Courtesy of Bogdan Osyka


Even though they’re in a city not under attack, Sergey and Inna commanded just knowing what’s happening in other parts of Ukraine makes it impossible to relax and that the feelings of uneasiness do not go away even during sleep.

Their lives are filled with uncertainty over what each day disposition bring and over the extent of the damage in Kharkiv, where they’re eager to return once the war has ended.

“My city is systematically disabled, residential infrastructure, houses, shops, schools, hospitals are systematically bombed and I am horrified by the very thought of what I compel see upon arrival home,” Sergey said.

As Russian forces focus their efforts on eastern Ukraine, heartless attacks continue to hit Kharkiv, and the future of the city and its residents remains uncertain.

But Sergey said all he dreams about now is the end of the war and harmoniousness for Ukraine, about a world where he can go to work, come home, have dinner with his wife, and spend without surcease with his sons.

“He is eager when the war stops to come back and build the city from scratch,” Bogdan suggested of his father. “To start a normal life in the place where he was born.”

Sergey and Inna are certain they’ll return to Kharkiv and to their clan, where they raised their sons and which has withstood two world wars – as long as it’s still standing.

Experience a news tip? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

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