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Ukrainians react to Russian invasion with disbelief

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We've been checking in today with people NPR has met in Ukraine these last few weeks. We asked some to send us voice memos, just tell us how they're feeling today. Some are using only their first names because they're concerned for their safety.

SVETLANA: My name is Svetlana. I'm 33, recording this message from inside my tiny apartment in Kyiv city center with two cats and a friend who came over in the afternoon. I'm really scared and frustrated. Today has been a real hell on earth for the Ukrainians.

MISHA: Hi. My name is Misha, and I'm in Kyiv. We decided to stay for family reasons. We have all the parents and cats to take care of. And, I mean, it's all just terrible. It's terrifying. It's a disaster. It's like being inside a Hollywood movie about some sort of the end of the world.

KELLY: We also heard from a Ukrainian chef our colleague Joanna Kakissis had spoken with. His name is Yevhen Klopotenko, and he is something of a celebrity. He tells us he has left Kyiv to stay with his parents, and his restaurant has become a makeshift bomb shelter for his staff. He says he was in shock, but then...

YEVHEN KLOPOTENKO: I just start to cook the borscht, and I forgot about everything, you know. And I don't know why. I do not still understand how it happened, but I started to cook, and I started to feel better. And then we sat together with parents and start to eat and, you know, everything just like start to be normal. If you saw the film "Don't Look Up," and they were sitting, you know, and eating together in the last scene. I felt something like the same. And now I slept for a few hours. And now I cook again. I cook some potatoes with the herring, and we will sit and eat again.

KELLY: That is Ukrainian chef Yevhen Klopotenko. We've been speaking with him and other Ukrainians, asking how they're feeling on the day Russia invaded their country. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.