Although his ghost had been camping around them during the past weeks, the residents of the capital, Kiev, and the rest of the Ukrainian cities could not imagine living in the atmosphere of war they witnessed since Thursday morning.
Warning sirens and low-flying warplanes, bombing, destruction, displacement, and long queues in front of metro and fuel stations, as well as markets and public roads.
Since the early morning hours, the residents of Kiev have been in bomb shelters, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "military operation" in Ukraine, and the sound of explosions and warning sirens began to be heard, while the streets were empty of only a few pedestrians seeking to secure their needs.
Kiev also witnessed a large movement of displacement towards the countryside and western regions, and activists circulated on the communication sites videos that showed a congestion of cars displaced from the capital to escape the Russian bombing, while the alarm sounded, which suddenly sounded terror in them.
Air raid sirens as refugee convoy hits traffic on outskirts of Kyiv.
This is very, very real now.
— Max Hunder (@Max_Hunder) February 24, 2022
While eyewitnesses documented the flight of warplanes at a low altitude over a number of Ukrainian cities, a scene that Ukrainians were not accustomed to or imagined seeing over their cities.
Удари крилатих ракет "Калібр" по Україні pic.twitter.com/lIUffNc8d5
— Промисловий Портал (@ua_industrial) February 24, 2022
Videos circulating on social media also showed the conversion of metro stations in Kiev into shelters, coinciding with the start of the Russian "invasion".
And according to what was announced by the "Kiev Metro" account on Twitter, the automatic payment system was stopped and citizens were allowed to pass to the stations completely free of charge, in addition to the readiness of 46 stations, to operate as an emergency shelter system.
Харків, метро Студентська.
Облаштовують фонтанчики для води pic.twitter.com/rZ8l3ZcZwV
— gwaramedia (@GwaraMedia) February 24, 2022
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) February 24, 2022
Eyewitnesses broadcast videos and pictures of traffic jam queues in front of gas stations in several Ukrainian cities, in conjunction with the Russian bombing of the country this morning.
Line for gas in Rivne, Western Ukraine.
— Glenn Kates (@gkates) February 24, 2022
While residents of Ukrainian cities, especially in the Donbass region, which is witnessing major battles on the front line between the Ukrainian army and the separatists backed by Russia, rushed to shops and pharmacies to buy their needs. Al-Jazeera correspondent Elias Karam monitored some of those scenes.
What increased the residents' panic were the sounds of violent explosions in the vicinity of their cities and the rising of flames and smoke from a number of locations, which was transmitted by the mobile phone lenses of a number of activists and foreign students studying in Ukraine.
"Yeh sab kya ho raha, yaar dikho whan aag dikh rahi hai…sachi mai ho ra hai", Indian students in Ukraine express shock as the country sees Russian invasion https://t.co/2ttWPEea76 pic.twitter.com/7dBgSbzada
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) February 24, 2022
While a video clip showed, huge flames of smoke rising towards the sky after a large explosion occurred as a result of the bombing by Russian forces of an arms depot in the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine.
Explosion hits Ukrainian munitions storage facility in Vinnytsia pic.twitter.com/ZVqeCLlODk
— Doge (@IntelDoge) February 24, 2022
And all these scenes prompted thousands of residents of the areas near the border with Russia to head to the train stations to get away from eastern Ukraine, which was documented by journalists, as hundreds of travelers flocked to the Kharkiv train station with the news of the arrival of Russian forces to the outskirts of the city.
Kharkiv train station is a zoo.
— Fin DePencier (@finlockedintoit) February 24, 2022
I am at Kharkiv train station: hundreds of people are queuing to buy tickets and flee eastern #Ukraine… pic.twitter.com/TCxSEOsbHc
— Sara Cincurova (@Sara_Cincurova) February 24, 2022
Other scenes showed the effects of destruction on a residential complex in the city of Kharkiv as a result of Russian bombing.
An apartment complex in Is devastated by bombardment, south of Kharkiv.
Untold number of consequences.
— Justin Yau (@PDocumentarians) February 24, 2022Keywords: