As tens of thousands of Ukrainians desperately flee the country, others are holed up in basements or second homes as they tried to avoid detection Friday by advancing Russian troops.
A 40-year-old man from Kyiv told The Post he was staying with friends at a home in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine as darkness fell in the Eastern European nation. He escaped the capital of roughly 2.8 million people by car earlier this week.
The man, who declined to be identified out of safety concerns, said he and his friends had just returned from hiding out in a basement for more than an hour.
“The sirens are ringing once in a while, running to the cellar,” the man said.
Russian forces had targeted a nearby military airfield as the assault on Ukraine got underway, but none of President Vladimir Putin’s troops were on the ground in the Ivano-Frankivsk region Friday. Still, fear of being detected remains palpable, as well as running out of supplies of food and medicine, he said.
Another growing concern is Ukraine’s announcement Thursday that men ages 18 to 60 are forbidden from leaving the country as long as martial law remains in effect.
“I’ve never had something to do with rifles, shooting, etc.,” the man told The Post, adding that he intended to lie low in coming days and weeks if necessary.
“If it will get to mass resistance — like total war, then probably yes,” he replied when asked if he’s worried about potential penalties for not joining the fight. “We’re not at phase as far as I know.”
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Another Ukrainian — a woman named Tetyana — said she was holed up at her parents’ summer house near Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, the country’s largest airport.
“We currently have enough food here and the car has full of petrol ready,” Tetyana told The Post. “If we will stand this night, I think we will be on the winning side from then. As soon as we can leave, we will go to western Ukraine.”
Tetyana, 32, who fled Kyiv a month earlier, said Russian forces launched a rocket strike early Friday near the airport 18 miles east of the capital.
“I hope we will not be captured [because] Russians are very cruel when it comes to war,” Tetyana said. “Currently, we hear sirens sound from Kyiv.”
With martial law still in effect, people are barred from going outside between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., making it “impossible” to escape at night, Tetyana said.
Despite hiding out as Russian “occupiers” advanced in Ukraine on Friday, she was hopeful Ukraine would emerge victorious, citing reported losses by Putin’s forces, including airplanes, helicopters and tanks.
“If they will keep up like this, I think that soon we will be on the winning side of this fight in Kyiv,” Tetyana said.
But not without some outside help, the Kyiv woman said.
“We urgently need NATO to provide us with a no-fly zone for our safety since they are not planning on sending their troops to help us,” she said.
More than 50,000 Ukrainians refugees fled the country in less than 48 hours, many to Poland and Moldova, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday.