The owner of a restaurant chain escaped Kyiv when the bombing began but says she will not leave Ukraine unless forced to
- Anna Zavertailo owns several restaurants in Kyiv but fled as soon as the first bombing occurred.
- She, her husband, and 3 kids drove 18 hours to find refuge in her friends' country house.
When Russia began attacking Ukraine, Anna Zavertailo wasted no time in fleeing the capital city of Kyiv, despite the impact it could have on her successful restaurant business.
Within an hour of the first bombing, Zavertailo set off for Western Ukraine with her husband and three children. They found safety in a friend's country house. "We had packed all the necessities on Wednesday. So, we picked up our bags and drove away."
They hadn't slept for three days prior to their departure as they had been preparing for the impact of any potential attack. They then spent 18 hours in the car to reach their destination.
Another Ukrainian business owner previously told Insider that "a trip that usually takes 10 hours now takes 23 hours."
When announcing the invasion on February 24, Vladimir Putin tried to justify his actions in a speech by claiming he sought the "denazification" of Ukraine.
But Zavertailo told Insider over the phone on the day following the invasion: "We don't understand why the attack is happening, it does not make sense." She added that she and her children were safe and far from Kyiv, although her husband has since decided to return to the city.
Zavertailo owns several restaurants in the capital, including Zavertailo and Honey Cafe. She said: "All our equipment stayed in Kyiv in our restaurants. If the city is destroyed, we don't know how we will be able to sustain for ourselves."
She added: "We may have lost all business right now," but in the midst of the chaos, her employees and manufacturers are working together to provide shelter and food for people in Kyiv.
While she is concerned about her businesses, she is also a mother of three children who are all under the age of eight years old. When the attack occurred, she and her husband knew they had to take swift action.
"We were preparing days before the attack occurred because we suspected something would happen." She did not want to believe it would actually happen, she said, as her voice started to tremble.
"My husband and I are trying to tell our kids what is happening — it is really a war," she added. "Even our kids don't understand. They wonder why our neighboring country would attack us."
But her children's fear was evident: "They are scared for our future."
The United Nation reported that a million Ukrainian have fled their country and are finding refuge in European countries. The organization said on Thursday: "The United Nations has mobilized staff and supplies, both to help people fleeing across borders for safety, and to support those inside the country."
Despite the escalating situation, Zavertailo insisted that they would not emigrate unless they were given no other choice. "We want to save our business, we want to be there for our people, our family," referring to both civilians and her employees.
Should the worst happen, "we have friends abroad in Italy, Poland, Spain, and other countries, so maybe we'll think about immigration then." But she said this hasn't crossed their mind yet.
Still, the sense of uncertainty was growing stronger day by day. Nearing the end of the phone call, just before the line cut off, Zavertailo said, simply: "We have no future right now."
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