Fighting continues in Ukraine as hundreds of thousands flee

Fighting in Ukraine continues as thousands of young people join the resistance against Russian troops. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing to neighboring countries. President Volodomyr Zelensky has agreed to hold peace talks with Moscow at the Ukraine-Belarus border. Yaroslav Trofimov, Chief Foreign affairs Correspondent, Wall Street Journal joins from Kyiv.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yaroslav, what have you been seeing in Kyiv these past 24 hours?

  • Yaroslav Trofimov:

    Well, it's mostly what we've been hearing. We've been hearing a lot of airstrikes and the thud of artillery on the horizon and really seeing empty streets because Kiev has been under a curfew all day since Saturday night and until Monday morning and the curfew is necessary, the authorities here say because of Russian infiltrators. There have been Russian sleeper cells and Russian agents and saboteurs, as the government puts it. They've been trying to take over buildings in the Ukrainian capital, have been engaging in firefights. And so the government says they need this time to hunt them down. And so through the night, we've heard for two nights in a row shooting in the streets of Kyiv , exchanges of gunfire. During the day it's been quiet, and tonight it's also been quiet. So it looks like the Ukrainians are finally getting control of every corner of the city, while at the same time battles are raging on the outskirts of the city and they are real, real battles using artillery, aviation, the drones that Turkey had supplied to Ukraine. And we've seen evidence of Ukraine stopping this offensive of destroying several Russian columns of armor and pushing back the Russian forces from the immediate vicinity of Kiev.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are people sticking to the curfew or are they out trying to get whatever they need for the next couple of days? I mean, you seem to be in a place that has electricity, has an internet connection.

  • Yaroslav Trofimov:

    Electricity is uninterrupted in the city. Mobile phones work, there is internet, there is food in the stores. You know, people were not supposed to go out today on Sunday, but yesterday we were going to the supermarkets and we're still well stocked, from before the war, I suppose. ATMs still work and have cash. I was able to pay enough for my groceries with Apple Pay. So in some ways, it's very normal. But in other ways, it's an empty city, it used to be, just four days ago, a modern, bustling European capital with nightclubs and restaurants. And all of that has ended now.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are most people staying above ground at night or are they trying to go in bomb shelters, subway stations, basements?

  • Yaroslav Trofimov:

    I think most people have left. Most people with small children, and most people with elderly parents have boarded busses and cars and trains and fled to the west of Ukraine, which is much safer than Kyiv, that is not being attacked by Russia as often and where the threat of Russian soldiers showing up on the doorstep is much lower in the immediate future. So I would say sort of, ballpark estimation is about a third of the residents of Kyiv have stayed behind, but that third is mostly young people who want to fight. And so we have seen, you know, thousands and thousands of mostly young men, but also women joining the new Territorial Defense Forces. And those are people of all walks of life, you know, all joining the resistance against the Russians and the Ukrainian government just said today that in addition to the 200,000 regular troops that they have had, 100,000 people signed up for the military in the last 48 hours.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Are the people in Kyiv tonight aware of how the world perceives what's happening?

  • Yaroslav Trofimov:

    I think they are wary, but they also see it as a bit of too little, too late because they are now receiving military help, lots of countries such as Germany that opposed sending weapons to Ukraine, that opposed sanctioning Russia have now changed tack. But the way many Ukrainians see it, if it even had a much sterner in the past, if they'd allowed Ukraine to have air defenses, which Western nations refused to sell them last year and there wouldn't be these bombings, and Russia wouldn't have this freedom to damage on one of Europe's oldest cities.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yaroslav Trofimov of The Wall Street Journal joining us from Kyiv tonight. Thanks so much.

  • Yaroslav Trofimov:

    Thank you so much. Thank you.

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