Civilians take up arms to defend Ukraine Civilians take up arms to defend Ukraine

Civilians take up arms to defend Ukraine

    NHK World
    NHK World
    Ukrainian officials say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the week since Russian forces invaded their country. As the shelling turns modern cities to rubble, ordinary Ukrainians are taking up arms to fight back.

    Inna Sovsun, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, picked up a gun for the first time in her life on the day Russia invaded.

    "This is my city," she says of Kyiv. "We're not giving it to the Russians."

    Her 61-year-old father plans to go to the battlefield. Sovsun says he has trouble with his knees but told her that he could at least crawl.

    online interview Inna Sovsun
    Inna Sovsun says that Russia is defying the whole civilized world.

    The lawmaker has been tweeting from the basement where she takes refuge when the sirens start blaring.

    "All of us want to become something useful, whatever we can do," she says. "This is actually Russia's war against the whole civilized world. They are defying the basic principles of international law and simple human decency with what they are doing now. And if they are not stopped here in Ukraine, they will go further."

    Inna's tweet

    An evacuee crisis

    Olga Tokariuk is a Ukrainian freelance journalist based in Kyiv. She is now in the western part of the country with her husband and their six-year-old daughter.

    She says the world needs to know what is happening in Ukraine.

    online interview Olga Tokariuk
    Olga Tokariuk says people want to contribute to the defense of Ukraine in whatever way they can.

    Tokariuk also covers the evacuee situation. The UN Refugee Agency says more than one million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. Many others have left their homes behind to seek refuge in what they hope is a safer region of the country. But Tokariuk says even evacuating is a challenge.

    "For many people, the only way to leave is by train, but it’s not safe to go to the station, and there aren’t enough trains for everyone who wants to leave," she says.

    Those who make it there find carriages so crammed that they have to travel standing up. That can mean close to 20 hours on their feet.

    Tokariuk says her engineer husband is planning to enlist to fight the Russian forces.

    "Of course I’m worried," she says, "but I can understand his decision. Everyone wants to contribute to the defense of Ukraine in whatever way they can."

    Olga's tweet

    And, she says, she hopes that feeling extends beyond the country's borders: "Hopefully all of the world will help us, so one day my husband will be building houses again."