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Letter from Kyiv: ‘We are weary but morale is high – Putin did not expect it to be so tough’

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yiv’s weary, but remarkably resilient residents emerged for the first time in 48 hours from their homes and bomb shelters to which they had been confined by Russia’s continuing bombing of the Ukrainian capital.

“It’s great to see the sunlight again,” said one of my journalists, Iryna, after leaving an overpacked makeshift bomb shelter in the basement of her building. “Let’s hope our boys will hold out and knock the stuffing out of those bastards.”

The motley Ukrainian defence forces composed of regular army fighters, mobilised veterans and raw young conscripts, together with numerous civilian volunteers, have put up stiff resistance and so far managed to keep the Russians from breaking into the city.

They have had to blow up bridges, block and damage roads, and take down road signs. One of the biggest challenges has been to spot saboteurs and Russian commando units trying to infiltrate through the defences disguised in civilian clothes, Ukrainian uniforms or captured army vehicles and ambulances.

“Thank god they’ve not knocked out the electricity and internet and we have a good idea of what’s going on,” Stefan, another of my team, emphasised.

The besieged population is hearing of intensive fighting going on in numerous parts of the country. Of losses and destruction, but also about the heroism of their troops and civilians and the heavy losses being inflicted on the Russian invaders.

“Putin didn’t reckon it would be so tough and that his losses would, be so great,” Irina adds. “And look at the damage he’s caused to Russia’s economy and reputation!”

It’s the news coming not only from the battle zones that is keeping the morale of the Ukrainians so high. “Europe has finally come to its sense,” Stefan says with a smile. “Even the Germans, French and Brussels have realised they have to stand up to the latter-day Russian Nero who though he would fiddle away while Kyiv burns.”

And reports of protests against the war in Russia itself and of its oligarchs breaking ranks are also raising hopes that the Russian themselves will help to end Putin’s madness.

“We know it’s far from over and terrible things might lie ahead, but we’re certain that in the long-run we have already won” Iryna reassures us. “Europe will never be the same again.”

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