The most poignant stories coming out of Ukraine

From births in bomb shelters to Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s resistance

A woman and child outside a damaged residential building in Kyiv
A woman and child outside a damaged residential building in Kyiv
(Image credit: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images)

The people of Ukraine have had their lives rocked by the Russian invasion launched last week. Around 386,000 people are believed to have already fled their homes and at least 100 civilians have been killed, with the real figure feared to be “considerably higher”, according to the UN.

“In the last days the world has witnessed awe-inspiring displays of bravery and heroism from the Ukrainian people in response to those who seek to obliterate their freedom by force,” said the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson in a statement last night.

Here are just some of the stories coming out of the war-torn nation.

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Births in bomb shelters

Amid the “chaos and destruction wreaked from missiles landing on the city of Kyiv”, a number of “‘miracle’ births have given many a cause for hope”, reported ITV News on Saturday. Hannah Hopko, chair of the Democracy in Action Conference, shared a picture of one new mother with her baby Mia, born in an underground bomb shelter.

The Kyiv Independent estimated that at least six babies had been born in the country’s bomb shelters, including a metro station and others in maternity hospital shelters.

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‘Tank man’ of Ukraine

Video footage of a man kneeling in front of a Russian tank outside the city of Bakhmach went viral at the weekend, prompting comparisons to the “tank man” of Tiananmen Square. The “brave Ukrainian” tried to block the convoy of several tanks “with just his hands”, pushing one until it came to a complete stop, described The Independent. He then knelt on the ground before a number of people pulled him away.

In a separate clip, shared by Ukrainian news outlet HB, another man was seen standing in front of military vehicles as they swerved around him, reported The Guardian.

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Families separating

Some of the most heartbreaking scenes in Ukraine have been of fathers bidding farewell to their children evacuating the country. The border agency has banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving. One video captured a “sobbing Ukrainian father” saying goodbye to his daughter as she left with her mother, “exiting the country for at least the foreseeable future”, said the Daily Mail. The clip “gives a horrific glimpse into how the Eastern European conflict is tearing families apart”, said the New York Post.

Molotov park meeting

The BBC recorded a surreal scene in Dnipro, south-east of Kyiv, over the weekend. A large group of women had gathered in a park with polystyrene, cheese graters and glass bottles to prepare Molotov cocktails to defend their city. A teacher, named only as Arina, admitted that “nobody thought that this is how we would spend our weekend”, but that making fire bombs now seemed like “the only important thing to do”.

Zelenskyy’s bravery

The decision by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his family to stay in the country while under Russian attack has “moved many”, said Steven Erlanger in The New York Times. The comedian-turned-politician “has become the leader Ukraine did not know it needed”, inspiring his citizens to fight for their country with “impassioned speeches” from the streets of Kyiv, said Erlanger. “Mr. Zelensky’s response to a reported American offer to evacuate him – ‘I need ammunition, not a ride’ – will most likely go down in Ukrainian history whether he survives this onslaught or not.”

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