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Freezing temperatures add to Kyiv’s problems as Russian troops approach Ukrainian capital

<i>Emilio Morenatti/AP</i><br/>People arrive at a train station as they try to leave Kyiv
Emilio Morenatti/AP
People arrive at a train station as they try to leave Kyiv

By Ivana Kottasová and Jack Guy, CNN

Residents of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are facing worsening conditions as a Russian military column more than 40 miles long bears down on the city.

Thousands of residents are sheltering in unheated basements, underground parking lots and subway stations and a sudden cold snap has blanketed the city with snow, making the situation even more difficult.

Viktoriya and her family say leaving their Kyiv home to spend the night in a bomb shelter may have saved their lives.

When they returned on Tuesday morning, they discovered that bullets had pierced two windows in their apartment overnight. One of them shattered an electrical socket nearby, leaving a hole where the plug would normally go.

“I realized there is no place where I can feel safe now,” said Viktoriya, 38, who asked CNN not to use her full name. “My home is not my castle any more. All the time, something is thundering, exploding, shooting.”

And she said there is no relief when things go quiet.

“It becomes even more anxious in the moments of silence, because you know they are not going to last,” she said.

Viktoriya says she and her family have been spending most of their time in the shelter, since they have a small son and worry about being able to keep him safe in their apartment.

Many other families with children use the shelter, she says, so they can keep each other company; the adults also find it comforting being around each other and sharing the burden of worry and the feeling of hopelessness.

“Life changed completely in just a moment, and you can’t influence the situation in any way,” she said. “Now it’s no longer you who controls your life, but someone else. And whatever you decide: Whether to stay in Kyiv living in the basement or to go somewhere where it’s calmer, it means the same, you have to leave home.”

“The war has only lasted four days so far, but it seems like it has been with us for an infinitely long time. It’s a terrible ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling,” she added.

People have spent hours waiting in long lines at grocery stores and pharmacies in the city since they opened for the first time following a 36-hour curfew on Monday.

For now, the city’s key infrastructure is holding up. Electricity, heat and water are available as normal, but fears of potential disruptions to supplies have ratcheted up, as the Russian military closes in on the city.

The 40-mile-long (64-kilometer) Russian military convoy — made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles — has reached the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies.

US officials who were previously surprised by fierce resistance that saw ordinary citizens take up arms to fight the invasion now fear the situation is becoming “a lot more challenging” for Ukrainians.

The officials said in a briefing on Monday that Russia would likely lay siege to Kyiv, leading to ugly scenes of urban warfare, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

And on Tuesday afternoon, Russian military warned it would carry out strikes against the facilities of the SBU — Ukraine’s State Security Agency — and the 72nd Main Center for Information and Psychological Operations [PSO] in Kyiv.

The statement from the Russian Defense Ministry urged residents near some targets to “leave their homes,” Russian state news agency TASS reported.

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CNN’s Oleksandra Ochman contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Europe/Mideast/Africa

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