Isobel Koshow and Emma Graham-Harrison in Kyiv:
Few countries can be as devoted to a good cup of coffee, or at least a frequent cup of coffee, as Ukraine. Even the war, with night bombardments and atrocities committed by Russian troops just a few dozen kilometers away, did not interrupt the daily supply of caffeine in kyiv.
Valentyn Kononeko, 22, offered to help a friend at a stall in the trendy Podil district when it reopened on Monday. He is one of millions who have remained in the city, by choice or necessity, and is now trying to work his way into some kind of wartime routine.
“If I have to sit around worrying about whether a rocket is going to land on me, I’d rather do it here,” he said after processing a 20-minute queue of customers. “You have something to do, which takes a little of your time.”
Olena Osadcha, 51, an accountant, was picking up two espressos to take away, determined to stay even though her employer has closed. “I’ve always lived here and I can’t imagine life without Kyiv,” she said.
Like many in the city, she speaks lightly of the Russian missiles which tear apart buildings every evening, including one recently a few kilometers away. “To keep your cool through all of this, you have to try to live your normal life as much as possible.”
At least half of kyiv’s population is gone, its streets are littered with roadblocks, offices are closed and the sidewalks are eerily empty. But those who stayed are often proud – and defiant.
The city’s iconic trams run regularly, now free for anyone who needs them. “I can’t leave my mum for long, so it’s nice to be able to refuel between curfews,” said one shopper returning home with bulging bags.
Many women were walking around with bouquets of tulips, handed out by shops after flowers once destined for the city’s many florist kiosks were used to create a giant trident – Ukraine’s national symbol – in the center on Friday.
“Some employers collected them from the trident, and we handed them out to give everyone something to cheer about,” said Yuri Melnyk, 30, working behind the bar at the First Point cafe. Outside, customers are sitting in the sun, petting a husky.
They even had a few freshly baked croissants left, made from dough frozen before the war, though it was likely to run out soon.
At a nearby restaurant specializing in pastries in the western city of Lviv, which mainly coordinates community volunteering but still makes pies to sell to hungry locals, the handmade luxury chocolates are also selling well, says Victoria Patichenko, 20 years.
Patrons now include armed men guarding nearby roadblocks, but she looks as fashionable as she would have a month ago, when the streets were filled with drinkers each evening, not emptied by night curfew.