“Yes, we need hands”: a kitchen appears in the Ukrainian capital

Food, water and medicine ran out in Ukraine on Monday, well ahead of the second week of war with Russia

KYIV, Ukraine – The field kitchen at a makeshift camp in the Ukrainian capital was a hive of activity on Monday, giving volunteers a way to contribute to the war effort – and providing a much-needed distraction from the heartbreaking news on the escalation of the Russian invasion.

A woman identified only as Oksana, whose husband is fighting in the Ukrainian army, said cooking duty allowed her to avoid the latest developments.

“I received information that people needed help in the kitchen,” she said from the tent village that had sprung up between a multi-storey building and a barrier made of piled up tires and sandbags. “I came and asked, and they said, ‘Yes, we need hands.’ That’s it, and we’re not sitting around reading terrifying messages on the news channels. »

Another kitchen volunteer, Oleksiy Shevchenko, said: “We prepare soups, porridge for our military, for civilians and for everyone who needs our help, including hospitals.

Volunteers chopped red peppers and boiled potatoes at the various kitchen stations as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine worsened and Russian forces stepped up their shelling.

Food, water, heat and medicine became increasingly scarce, in what Ukraine condemned as a medieval-style siege by Moscow to subjugate it.

A third round of talks between the two sides ended with a senior Ukrainian official saying there had been minor, unspecified progress towards establishing safe corridors that would allow civilians to escape the fighting. Russia’s chief negotiator said he expects those corridors to start working on Tuesday.

Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fluttered above some of the field kitchen tents. Stacks of wooden crates and piles of crafted firewood for the camp walls. The boiling vegetable soup sent steam into the cold air; the log fire was crackling.

Men in camouflage uniforms inspected cans with messages scribbled on them in black marker.

“Thank you my darlings! We pray for you. God with us!” says one can.

Christi C. Elwood