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Kyiv resident takes up arms to defend city but says 'the tables can turn at any time'

The view of military facility which was destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)
The view of military facility which was destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, 31-year-old Dmytro Veselov was working as a business analyst for a small international firm in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Today, armed with an AK-47, he’s resisting a Russian invasion along with many of his fellow Ukrainians.

Fighting across Ukraine is intensifying. There’s a growing fear that Russia is targeting civilian neighborhoods in Ukrainian cities such as Kharkiv. Russian forces have surrounded and bombarded the country’s second-largest city on Tuesday, killing nearly a dozen people including three children.

Veselov says taking up arms to defend his city was a “no brainer choice.”

“If you’re attacked, if you’re able to stand your ground — stand your ground,” he says.

He attended about 8 hours of training from a defense unit who gave him the automatic rifle, told him to man the crossroads and “catch the enemy insurgents,” he explains.

Right now in Kyiv, Veselov says there are no traffic jams but air alarms sound often. While there’s no fighting currently in the capital city, towns on the outskirts are defending themselves and requesting medical supplies, body armor and night vision technology, he says.

On the first day of the Russian invasion, he says he was occupied with evacuating his wife and attempting to evacuate his mother, who ultimately refused to leave and is volunteering in the resistance.

He says many thought war with Russia was impossible, but from the start, he believed Ukraine should be prepared for the worst. “Execute, plan, war,” he says.

Veselov isn’t afraid of war — or at least “not yet,” he says.

So far, the situation unfolding for the Ukrainian military is “way better than expected” because Russian forces haven’t fully gotten their logistics in order, he says. It will get “much worse” once they do, he says, because the Russians will likely resort to the mass bombing tactics they used to capture the Chechen capital of Grozny during the First Chechen War in the mid 1990s.

“We’re putting up a good fight, but the tables can turn any time as soon as Russian Air Force will have their operational capacity, and this will have tremendous civilian disasters,” he says. “And what’s happening to Kharkiv today, it will happen all over Ukraine.”


Lynn Menegon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.