People in Kyiv are glued to their phones, buoyed by latest developments in Ukraine war

People in Kyiv, however excited by the latest developments, seemed to be holding themselves back from pure celebration. PHOTO: AFP

KYIV - The skies over Kyiv, Ukraine, hung heavy and grey on Sunday, but its people's spirits were buoyed by the startling news of the lightning-fast offensive in Ukraine's north-east.

It was all anybody was talking about. People relentlessly checked their phones and communicated with friends, eagerly tracking the latest developments from the battlefield.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time," said Rumil Khabibulin, an actor. "My wife, my children, me - all of our spirits are lifted. I think it's a big turning point in the war."

Khabibulin strutted around Kyiv's old town dressed in a yellow satin shirt, playing a 19th-century nobleman as part of an anniversary celebration for one of the capital's most historic and scenic strolling spots, Andriivskyi Descent.

"We're hoping the Russian army will just flee," he said with a grin.

The news was coming in fast. On Saturday, Ukraine's army captured Izium, and Sunday it was pushing forward.

The feeling?

"We are a bit shocked, but we are full of joy," said Anna Rieznikova, who comes from a recently liberated area near the city of Kharkiv. She fled to Kyiv a few months ago.

She stood in a park with her husband, Roman Butko, waiting to meet some friends.

"Everything's so intense; it's so quick; we can't keep up with the news," she said.

Her husband nodded.

"We're going to celebrate today," he said. "We're going to take a walk and get a good meal."

Around the capital, packs of people in heavy jackets meandered down the sidewalks. Kyiv is a strolling city, laid out along grand boulevards. Modest crowds gathered in the old part of the city and in the parks. The weather has turned cold and rainy, but when asked, many people said they felt better than they had in months.

"It's inspiring," said Ulyana Kuznietsova, a student, about the string of victories.

But the war is far from over. And people in Kyiv, however excited by the latest developments, seemed to be holding themselves back from pure celebration.

After all, their country has been turned upside down by war. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced. And so many people said that the greatest thing about all the recent news is that it just might signal that the end of the war is a little closer.

"What I really want is to go home," said Svetlana Grishankova, who comes from the eastern Donbas region, where Russian and Ukrainian troops are locked in a gruelling battle. "I have a beautiful three-story home. I just want to go back to that." NYTIMES

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