Thursday, June 30th, 2022

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Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, posted a picture on Twitter of the damaged apartment block.

“Kyiv, our splendid, peaceful city, survived another night under attacks by Russian ground forces, missiles. One of them has hit a residential apartment in Kyiv,” he wrote.

He called on the international community to “fully isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, (introduce an) oil embargo, ruin its economy”.

Mariupol, Ukraine – Andriy Voytsekhovskyy held back tears, praying for Ukraine and singing hymns with a small and emotional congregation in a subterranean church as fighting raged nearby.

In a quiet suburb of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, the church is almost invisible from the street as it sits in the foundations of a building that was never completed. It’s unusual for two reasons – it is underground, and it is Evangelical in a country where most Christians are Orthodox.

On the uncertain first day of a full-scale Russian invasion, the space was a heavenly gift to its devotees as troops close in on the city from two sides.

While children somersaulted across roll-out mattresses on the floor, too young to understand the magnitude of events around them, their parents swap information and try to decide whether to stay or go.

Andriy and his wife, Viktorii Voytsekhovskyy, both 28, slept here.

Just after midday on Thursday, as Andriy walked his Jack Russell Chelsea near their home in the city’s east – just 10 kilometres 96.2 miles) from the front line with Russian-backed separatists – a Grad attack crashed past him into the window of a ground-floor apartment, about 15 metres (50 feet) away.

“If I had gone outside with my dog one minute later, I would be exactly in the place where the strike hit and it changed my mind. Before, we were thinking to stay at home but now, I feel like there is no safe space,” he said.

While gut-wrenching flashes of explosives throughout the night and morning were terrifying, the close call was the last straw.

People leaving from Mariupol train station to Kyiv. People bid emotional farewells as they head from Mariupol train station to Kyiv [Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera]

The couple’s son, Leon, 4, quickly lay on the floor when he heard the blast from inside.

Living so close to the tense front line with Russia-backed separatists, he is used to the threat of war. The family have even made war into a game – the “evil king” wants them to be afraid and they will not give him that. Yet when he comes, they should always hide.

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