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What the city of Kyiv looks like as people return


And my co-host Scott Detrow joins us now from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Hi, Scott.


Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So you've been in Ukraine for several days now, but more in the western part of the country. And it was unclear...


CHANG: ...That you'd even be able to make it to the capital, Kyiv. But I understand that Russian troops have moved out of the suburbs there. And you and your team managed to get there safely earlier today. Is that right?

DETROW: Yeah. We got in this afternoon after a nine-hour train ride from Lviv.

CHANG: Wow. Wow. OK. Well, I'm glad that you made it there safe and sound because we're starting to learn more about how awful this fighting has been. Elsewhere in the show, we had our correspondent Nathan Rott reporting on some of the most tragic consequences of this war in one of the nearby suburbs, Bucha. And Scott, you are now in the city center of Kyiv. I'm just curious, what are your first impressions?

DETROW: The main impression is that the city feels almost totally empty. We were, at times, the only people walking down big, wide boulevards. But it's all about perspective here. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED producer Kat Lonsdorf is here with me. She was here in Kyiv with Mary Louise Kelly seven weeks ago, just before the war began. And she was shocked at how empty it felt compared to then.

But we were also talking to NPR correspondent Elissa Nadworny, who's been in Kyiv for the past week. And she said that there are now way more cars driving around than before. The city is starting to slowly return, compared to how things were during the height of fighting in the area.

CHANG: And what about damage to the city? Like, what shape is Kyiv in physically?

DETROW: Most of the fighting and shelling has been in the suburbs just north of the city. But still, it's a fortified city. We saw sandbags everywhere - piled in front of metro stations that had become bomb shelters, piled in front of windows. We saw big steel and concrete barricades in the streets placed there to block tanks. One other thing that we all noticed - even though we saw many children on our train ride into the city today, we did not see a single child walking around Kyiv today. And that's just very different from other cities we've been in. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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