‘The descent of a missile sounds like a speeding train – this is springtime in Kyiv’ | Express Comment | Comment

Spring is in the air in the Ukrainian capital – as was a gaggle of missiles that alighted on the city with thumps and explosions in the early morning hours of March 21st.

Almost 30 cruise missiles and two hypersonic ballistic ones, an Iskander and a Kinzhal to be exact, were launched from Russian bombers hundreds of miles away.

The Kinzhal, or “Dagger” in Russian, lives up to its name, in that it strikes like a knife in the back with little advance notice.

The city had just been nicely watered by a night-time shower, and the morning promised to be refreshing.

As usual these days, I just rolled over in bed when the air raid sirens went off.

Then I rolled off the bed and hard onto the floor. The descent of a ballistic missile sounds like a speeding train just before it crashes: About two or three seconds of furious screeching followed by a hellacious din.

No puttering drones were being shot out of the sky during this attack.

At that point, one starts looking for as many walls to hide behind as possible, as making it to a bomb shelter is no longer an option.

By sunrise, the usual reports had begun coming in, describing the damage done to buildings, homes and schools by falling pieces of missiles shot down by Ukraine‘s air defences.

But after more than two years of this war, I have begun to think locally and fixed my attention to a thick plume of black smoke rising over some buildings just a few blocks from my home.

Approaching the scene in the cold light of day, I cannot say I was particularly shocked – the usual glass-strewn street from blown-out windows, and a couple of low-built warehouse buildings whose rooves had been eggshelled.

On the opposite side of the road however, stood two young women placing flowers into a vase on a small table in front of a flower shop whose store front window had completely disappeared, frame and all.

The owner, Anastasiya, tells me that she’d opened the shop just a few months before the start of the large-scale Russian invasion in February 2022 and that this was the second time her store front had been damaged by Russian air attacks.

“As flowers are not a necessity for people, I cannot say that business is thriving these days,” she explains. But, like most Ukrainians, she has no plans to pack up and leave.

Inside the flower shop, the impact from the air attack is more graphic. Large shards of glass and the mangled window frame clutter the otherwise quaint interior.

In typically stoic and no less hospitable fashion, the girls of the shop make me a lovely cup of coffee and then resume sweeping up their shop in preparation for the coming work day.

What is spring without flowers, after all.

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