Thursday, February 24, was the day that changed the lives of Ukrainians forever: Russia sneakily launched a full-scale invasion. This event came as a complete surprise for most Ukrainians because no one could have imagined that a new war would break out in the centre of Europe in the 21st century.
So the morning of February 24 was an ordinary day. The day promised nothing special: neither good nor bad. And then I heard the sound of alarm sirens. The beginning of the war had been announced on the radio. It isn’t easy to describe the range of emotions I experienced at that moment: despair, fear and sadness on the one hand, and exaltation on the other. Because we Ukrainians are masters of our own land, we didn’t call the Russian orcs – so we have to kick them out.
I live in the small town of Boryslav, which is famous for being the only city in Europe located on an oil field. It’s a two-hour bus ride from Boryslav to the regional capital Lviv. So the pictures that I saw on a frightening winter morning in my peaceful hometown reminded me of images from a scary movie: the sound of alarm sirens, the road full of cars rushing somewhere at breakneck speed, kilometre-long queues at ATMs and grocery shops, and the smell of disaster in the air.
But judging by the mood of the people we talked to that day, they were scared, but at the same time, their spirit was undaunted. Now more than ever, Ukrainians are determined to fight back. Some take up arms and go to war; some join territorial defence units. Others help the army as volunteers. Calamity has truly united us. Ukrainians became engaged in bloody combat to prevent anyone from dominating our country.
Thousands of people were killed, homes destroyed, and human destinies were terrible prices the Ukrainian people were paying for their freedom. However, this war was the point of no return: never again will we return to the embrace of ‘big brother’. The masks have been lifted – now the whole world has finally seen the real face of the Kremlin. The time will come when we will kick the invaders out of our land – then Ukrainians will live happily and richly in the big European family.