‘I don’t want to run’, says Ukrainian woman sheltering from Russian bombs

Anastasiia Bulanienko said she has cried in secret over the situation in her country so as not to scare her family.

02 March 2022

A Ukrainian woman who has become “used to” bombs falling around her home near the capital city of Kyiv has said she will “not run” if Russian soldiers arrive.

Anastasiia Bulanienkova, 30, lives in a flat in the district of Rusanivka, but has been sheltering in her parents’ house in the village of Bobritsya with 12 other relatives.

She said she has cried in secret over the escalating situation so as not to scare her more vulnerable family members.

“The first day it was awful, there would be one explosion and everybody would be nervous,” she told the PA news agency.

“Two days ago I was in Kyiv to get some stuff and I met one of the neighbours and asked him about the bombings there.

“He said it’s (become) normal and the sounds are on repeat every four hours… so you start to know where it is coming from and understanding what ‘safe’ bombing sounds like.”

Multiple explosions could be heard near Ms Bulanienkova’s home as she spoke to PA.

“At least seven explosions have gone off in the time I have been speaking,” she said.

A family sheltering in their house in Ukraine as Russian bombs can be heard falling around them.
The rest of the extended family, whose ages range from 27 to 62, are staying in her parents’ four-room house (Anastasiia Bulanienkova/PA)

“I can hear the bombs and my house is shaking but I guess it’s scarier that we’re now just used to it.”

Latest intelligence from the UK Ministry of Deference has suggested Russian forces have moved into the centre of Kherson in south Ukraine.

Artillery and air strikes have targeted built-up areas in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.

Ms Bulanienkova said if the Russian soldiers arrive at her parents’ village she will stay put and hide.

“The worst thing to happen would be the death of the people close to me but I don’t want to feel like I am running away, I believe in Kyiv,” she said.

(PA Graphics)

She broke down crying as she described the moment her best friend was forced to leave her to shelter with her own family.

“This is my best friend, she is my rock… we feel much stronger when we are together,” she said.

“This was very harmful for me but for her much more because she had to decide between her best friend and her brother.”

Ms Bulanienkova’s 56-year-old father and 36-year-old brother have travelled to the capital to drop off supplies for the territorial defence soldiers in the city centre.

The rest of her extended family, whose ages range from 27 to 62, are staying in her parents’ four-room house.

Anastasiia Bulanienkova
Anastasiia Bulanienkova (Anastasiia Bulanienkova/PA)

She said they have enough food and working electricity but a faulty water system has left the family relying on neighbours for running water.

“If bombs fall down near us buildings will be destroyed and we could be killed by our own house,” Ms Bulanienkova said.

“It depends (on) the type of gun or bombs the Russians decide to use because the ones they are using right now tend to explode to a height of around one metre.

“We decided that if they are using this one then it is safe for us to stay here, but if they use other artillery then our shelter could fall down and kill us.

“This is a choice we have to make every day, deciding if you are better off inside your home, on the street or in a basement, and it’s not an easy choice.”

The UN’s refugee agency believes more than 874,000 people have fled Ukraine since the invasion last week and the figure could reach a million within hours.

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