Plain English with Derek Thompson - “Every Person Is Ready to Die for Our Country” Five Ukrainians on Life Inside Putin’s War Zone

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Hello, Derek.

So it was 4:30 in the morning when I woke up.

This is Nadia ship OVA.

She is Ukrainian a Fashion Stylist in a journalist on the morning of February 24th.

She was in bed in her apartment in Kiev, but then I heard like blast I heard it very far away.


It seems like something it could be like a car.

So I’m used to this noises from Cars thinking.

Like it’s a car but something inside me.

Were saying me like no, it’s not.

And I was keep on trying to sleep and then I heard one more time the blast, at this moment.


She realized Kia was under attack by Russia.

Nadia grabbed her passport, her marriage license, water car keys.

She took the elevator downstairs, the parking lot shaking with fear.

Just as she was about to start the engine and begin the hours, long drive to Western Ukraine, a thought flashed in her head that she might never see her apartment again that she might never see Kiev.



She realized she needed to take one more thing.

I was like seating and sinking that I have my cats there and I was thinking that I will be back to this apartment.


I was like, no, something inside me told me.

Like you need to go up again and take the cats.

So on the third time, I was shaking in the elevator again in like I just took this cats and it’s it.


This was last time I’ve been in my apartment because I just start driving constantly to the west of Ukraine because I realize it, it’s going to be worse and worse.

And now I realize that I did it very right choice to go away from here, Nadia.


Approval is one of six ukrainians that I’ve been in touch with over the last week.

They are mostly in their 30s.

They are artists businesspeople restaurant owners all lived in or near the capital of Kiev at least until the War Began because of Internet issues and limited cellular phone access because they are on the run during a war and bombs are falling all around them.


We did not speak on the phone instead.

They recorded voice memos to recount their experience during the war.

Then they sent the voice memos to me through a secure app, which I converted into an edited audio, that you’re about to hear this past Sunday, a Russian Force near Kiev fired, shells toward a bridge where families were fleeing the fighting the explosion killed a mother and her children and left the father, bloodied and unconscious.


In a green carrying case scattered by the blasts a small dog was heard barking.

Imagine running from your home from a foreign army, their missiles, their mortar shells.

Knowing that every decision you make could be the difference between life and death, stay or flee, turn left or right.


Leave at 5 a.m.

Or 5:30.

Every decision is potentially fatal or freeing and now imagine making those decisions, every minute of every day for weeks and weeks.

That is the world in which these six ukrainians live.


There is only so much we can learn about this war by thinking about the biggest picture strategy, Finance economics.

This Is War.

And life is what matters?

Most here are six lives that should matter to all of us.


I’m Derrick Thompson.

This is plain English.



My name is Anna kaziuchits Olga.

I’m from Kiev Ukraine.

And the day, the war started.

I was at home sleeping in my bed.

When at 6 a.m.

My friend note on my door.

I opened it.

And he said wake up.


Russia has actually started the war Hannah owns a restaurant in Kiev, in the days.

After the initial bombing.

She decided to stay in the capital.

She tries to make everything seemed normal as possible, but it’s getting harder by the day.

Every single.

All day, I wake up.

I go to my restaurant and I keep telling the guys don’t throw away these greens.


So, we’ll be cooking our salads again.

But today was probably the night that I realized that it’s not gonna end soon.

And today, we didn’t the news.

I was completely sure.

And I realized that NATO will not close the skies, and we’re left here all alone, and no one’s going to help us.


Many ukrainians seem to have accepted that NATO, won’t close the skies.

That is enforce a no-fly zone.

That would entail direct Warfare between nuclear Powers.

But this means Ukraine alone will have to take on one of the largest militaries on the planet.

It is a terrifying Prospect.


So Anna a mother has been torn between staying with her parents near Kiev or trying to go west where her husband and son live.

The last 24 hours.

We’ll probably the most challenging.

Because I had to decide if I stay or if I go to the western part of Ukraine and see my son and as a mother, of course I felt and I feel that I need to be with my son and maybe take him out of the country because his father cannot leave.


But my parents are here in Kiev and they are outside of the city in a house where the bombs are.

Falling all the time and they hear all those guns and everything.


They’re completely scared.

They’re in the basement all the time and it’s a very dangerous war zone.

And the moment, it’s like 20 kilometers outside of Kiev and they can’t get out because the bridge that connects the, this little cottage village where they are.


It’s ruined, and it’s really dangerous to go there.

So, They still have food.

They have everything but they’re in this house and they cannot leave.

Anaconda chanko had a choice to stay in Kiev near her parents or to leave her parents and go west to her son.


She thought she only might have to stay for a few days.

But now she says, she feels trapped in her hometown with Russian forces closing in from the North and the South and the west.

And we are starting to learn.

Just how Russian forces treat the civilians.


Who do not flee.

It’s just tore me into two pieces, the one wanting badly to be with my child and the other one that wants to stay here and help as a citizen and be close to my parents.

And this is a difficult decision that I couldn’t make.


And while I was trying to make it, it became obvious that it’s too late to leave.

It’s too dangerous right now.

In one instagram recording between a musician.

Nadia door, a fever and her assistant, you’re about to hear the assistant Begin by telling the musician that she tried to escape her town, but the roads were blocked, or ruined, or occupied by Russian tanks.


This upcoming conversation is in Ukrainian, but I’ll interpret it throughout and the emotion in their voices doesn’t require any translation.


Can you go around them?

Nadia asks, can you pick a different Road?

No, her assistant says knee knee.

There’s nowhere to hide.

They’re trapped.


Nadia asks about her family in the next clip.

You’ll hear the assistant named, several men, Papa, vulva.

Bannock Uncle Sasha, the men in her family.

The last time she saw them.

Seven armed Russians were at the door of a nearby home.


She doesn’t know if her father or the rest of her family is alive.


And you’re depressed reality.

Rasta pasta, she says, meaning simply are the Russians simply shooting people.

Yes, Nadia.

She says they simply see people and shoot them.


It is for this reason that many people who have escaped Kiev are coming back.

So my name is Lucas undergone of scheme.

I’m living here.

I was born in Kiev.

Alexander nevsky a business man escaped from Kiev after the bombing started like most potential refugees.


He went West to the city of l’viv, which is near Poland and choose good route, which borders Slovakia and Hungary.

But he made the decision to come back to the capital, to defend it.

So the last 24 hours, I think it was pretty challenging.

So I have a I went to restore.


Then I came back to the leaf and from we were supposed to go back to Kiev like three of us.

And in the end of the day, the rest 30 of us 12 cars going rushing to Kiev for help.


So the last 24 hours is thing is like, as always been disturbing right now.


We equipping ourselves helmets, armored vests.

Everything that you need for the combat and we are starting out training soon more remakes reality.

We write the stories of people’s lives.

Restaurant owners, become resistance Fighters, fashion stylists become refugees businessmen, become soldiers.


I was pretty well, see and I can afford almost anything that you can that you can afford and the right now.

It’s like, hey, you are changing your habits.

Lately, that’s what it what I can tell you in, like, just in one small sentences, but that’s the new reality and you are not.


Let’s say in your reality.

That’s the way it crumbles and even if you hear the noise of the Rockets or bombarding or whenever they’re shelling Kiev, you don’t care anymore.


It was scary for the first time and I’ve arrived right now.

It’s de force and I completely like, I’m okay with that.


It’s like you are adopting as a, all human beings.

On this painting, adopting to the new changes to the shift.

Or challenges.


That’s the way how we adopted here.

In Kiev.

I asked Alexander having witnessed the initial bombing of Kiev having lost, perhaps his entire business, having escaped from his home to the west and then having returned to his home to fight for his country.


What was the most painful part?

The scariest moment was those like 5 a.m.

Bombarding is like my grandmother.

She like just when she was alive.

She told me a story about how he was.

By Nazis in 1941.


And that was pretty much the same.

It was exactly the same situation and it’s like a fashion flashback, you know, it was absolutely insane about.

It was goddamn scary.

Whenever you, you feeling the sounds of like the blows that’s like going somewhere.


You cannot see them but you, you understand.

This is fucking war and like putting fucking started the war the most painful part.

Is seeing how our nation, our nation is like being suppressed by Russians.


Yeah, how all these kids are dying.

All this family.

A fling.

That’s the most devastating things for me.

The last story I want to share with you was sent via text.

The author is a Ukrainian.

American named yevgeniy.

Garlic who is living in Kiev with his daughter.


When the bombing began, his wife lives in the US.

When the bombing started, he picked up his daughter and to work colleague at 5:45 a.m.

And started driving West.

This is his story quote.

We drove for 10 hours to live even Western Ukraine where we made a push for the Polish border.


The car line at the border was approximately 28 km or 17 miles long.

Some had been in line for 4 days at 3 p.m., We decided to walk 17 miles.

With my daughter.

We arrived at the border at midnight.

We spent the night outside the gates.


It was a scene out of 1945 Mass hysteria, mostly women and children.

No border guards.

People pushing and shoving fighting women and children.

Crying people fainting, freezing temperatures around eight, AM Customs agents began to show up.


Gate started to open.

We were finally organized and let through at passport control.

The agents discovered that I didn’t have an entry stamp in my US Passport.

I forgot that I used my Ukrainian passport.

When I entered Ukraine in early February.


They immediately turned me and my daughter around and set me back inside, Ukraine.

At this point, I broke down, mentally, and physically.

We hadn’t eaten, anything from February 24th at side, some gas station snacks.

We hadn’t slept since five a.m.


February 24th, and now it was noon on the 26.

I was borderline hysterical famished.

My brain was delirious.

I was met with the Stark realization that I might not have the energy or mental capacity to make the 28 km Trek back to town.


We hitchhiked several kilometers back when I called people to see.

If anyone knew anyone in the area that could take us in, we got in touch with the family that agreed to let us stay the night.

We arrived at 7 p.m.

We ate and went to sleep.

The next three days.

I spent with his family.


They were an absolute blessing.

I could tell you a whole other story about them and their kindness.

Meanwhile, my wife who lives in the United States, used her network, to figure out how we could Escape.

Even with my passport issue on day 4, we decided we would move from the vivre 2’s square root a city in Western, Ukraine near five, different border.



We drove another five hours through many checkpoints and blog posts in uzhgorod.

We were greeted by friends who had already got an apartment there.

A few days earlier eight of us slept in a two-bedroom 450 square foot.

Apartment for the next few days.


After three days to return to the border, the same problem arose, no stamp.

In my passport.

I stay diligent.

I spoke English.

I explained that I lived in the US for 30 years was schooled there had my whole life there.

The guards took my passport and Left Behind Closed Doors.


We waited for 30 minutes.

The guards returned handed me the passports and left.

No instructions.


We showed it to flip the pages, my passport to see if They were new stamps.

We found the pages there.

It was a stamp with the day’s date.


We did it.

We were free.

We all thought that the world will stand up and protect us.

We all thought that NATO will protect us.

We all thought that the war in the middle of Europe is not happening.


It’s not possible.

Anaconda chanko, the Key Restaurant owner again, but now, we all feel that we’re left alone, but we still believe in our President, we still believe in our Me and we still believe it our people and as ukrainians.


We feel very United.

I can’t even describe this feeling the love for your country, the love for your people.

It’s enormous.

I’ve never felt like that.

We hope for the best we right now.

We’re not waiting, that someone will save us, we know that no one will, but we know we’re going to win.


We believe that.

It’s just that probably it will.

Take time, and a lot of people will be killed every day.

We hope for the best, but we not do not expect a miracle anymore.


As of this recording Russian forces continue their bombardment of Ukraine, they continue to make progress in the South but ukrainians have held up.


Well, near the capital of Kiev.

We don’t know where we are in this war.

The beginning, middle or end, but Anna isn’t waiting on a miracle from the west or from above.


She is placed her faith.

In people like Alexander nevsky.

Ukraine’s own to defend their home.

To Alexander and Donna to Nadia to vulva and Bonnie can Uncle Sasha and to Elena stay safe.


Stay strong, Slava, Ukraine.