IVANO-FRANKIVSK, UKRAINE (NewsNation Now) — The low hum of an air raid siren sounded through the halls of an Ivano-Frankivsk hotel Wednesday as guests gathered their belongings and evacuated to a nearby basement.
Ivano-Frankivsk is several hundred miles from Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, which has seen destruction and civilian casualties in the week since Russia carried out its invasion. But seeking shelter and drowning out sirens has become a part of daily life even for those in Ivano-Frankivsk.
“This is horrible that we are getting used to this type of life,” said Julia Sovkova, a Kyiv resident who is staying in Ivano-Frankivsk. “This is something strange — another normal for us.”
Russia’s assault on Ukrainian cities continued Wednesday with an announcement from the Russian armed forces claiming they had captured the Ukranian city of Kherson, but the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has denied those reports.
As the war extended into its seventh day, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reported that more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have died so far. There is no way to verify that claim.
Sovkova and fellow Kyiv resident Ted Plesha were sitting at a restaurant Wednesday when one of the air raid sirens alerted residents to seek shelter.
“We’re sitting in a café, you know, just trying to work, pretend nothing’s happening,” Plesha said. “You try to do that but at some point you just get used to it and then you just wander out (when you hear) sirens and go to the nearest shelter.”
Sovkova and Plesha left the city to take care of Sovkova’s grandmother, who lives alone. But being away from home in a time of need has weighed heavily on them. Sovkova does what she can from afar, offering food and rides to members of the Ukrainian Defence Force, but feels her contribution would be greater in Kyiv.
“But still my parents, they’re just asking, persuading us not to move anywhere. Just stay here because it’s more or less safe. And I don’t like it,” Sovkova said. “But all I can do is just agree and do what I can just here.”
Back in Kyiv, hundreds of thousands of citizens rush to spend their nights in the city’s subway network as air raid sirens howl overnight.
Life in Ukraine’s underground shelters is hard — water and fuel shortages are common, toilets sometimes overflow. But families find it hard to complain. One 74-year-old woman told the Associated Press, “It’s much harder for soldiers at the front.”