“We’re closing down,” Tetiana said. “There is no point. There are no people.”
Evacuation vehicles were still leaving the city but not at the volume they had in the days before. One resident said that buses sent from western Ukraine were already leaving unfilled. Those who were staying in Kramatorsk, many of them older residents, were bracing what may lie ahead: making do without electricity, living in cold damp basements, cooking by fire and enduring the terror of incoming artillery fire.
But on Sunday, Lidia, 65, and Valentyna, 72, dear friends, dressed in nice clothes and decided to leave their lifelong homes together. Both women declined to provide their surnames.
“After what happened at the railway station, we can hear the explosions getting closer and closer,” Lidia said. Through tears, Valentyna added, “I can’t take these sirens anymore.” Their destination, as with millions of other Ukrainians since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, was somewhere vaguely west — just anywhere farther away.
“We need to leave because we can’t bear it anymore,” Lidia said.
Air-raid sirens in Kramatorsk are not the haunting, distant chorus you hear in the movies. They are, in most cases, just a loud single horn that seems inescapable, whether indoors or out. And if any kind of strike occurs, the sirens usually come afterward, too late, residents complained.