A Ukrainian teacher covered in blood after surviving a missile strike has today vowed to “do everything for my motherland”, as Russian forces bombarded the country.
The picture of Olena Kurilo, heavily bandaged over her face and head, has become one of the most striking pictures of the conflict so far.
Ms Kurilo, speaking outside her smashed home after visiting the hospital, said that she was “very lucky” and must have a “guardian angel”. She added that she “never thought that this would truly happen in my lifetime”.
The teacher said: “I will do everything for Ukraine, as much as I can, with as much energy as I have. I will always only be on my motherland’s side.
“I myself am a director, an educator, we studied the history, but we never thought that this would happen on our land,’ she said.
Ms Kurilo’s home has been “completely destroyed” by the shelling and her injuries are from shards of glass that were blasted into her face when the missile struck.
It comes after Mr Putin mounted a full-scale military assault by land, sea and air just after a pre-dawn televised address in which he announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Since then Ukrainian and Russian forces have been involved in heavy skirmishes in the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson and Odessa, home to a major city and Ukraine‘s most important seaport, in the south.
A resident of Kharkiv, Ukraine‘s second biggest city, said windows in apartment blocks were shaking from constant blasts.
The highway heading west out of Kiev was filled with thousands of residents attempting to flee the bombings.
“We’re afraid of bombardments,” said Oxana, stuck in her car with her three-year-old daughter on the backseat. “This is so scary.”
The UN refugee agency said an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians had fled their homes and that several thousand crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Romania and Moldova.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Ukrainians to defend their country and said arms would be given to anyone prepared to fight.
“What we have heard today are not just missile blasts, fighting and the rumble of aircraft. This is the sound of a new Iron Curtain, which has come down and is closing Russia off from the civilised world,” Zelenskiy said.
US President Joe Biden called the Russian invasion an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” and British prime minister Boris Johnson criticised Mr Putin’s “hideous and barbarous” venture into Ukraine.
Additional reporting by agencies
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