Despite the tense situation in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, former Mediacorp actor Ix Shen said he and his Ukrainian wife have no plans to evacuate Kyiv for now.
While others might have immediately started thinking of leaving once trouble began, the 1995 Star Search winner said they feel like they have a greater social responsibility and that their “main focus is to help in any way”. Shen added that he would “not be able to live with” himself had he taken off.
Shen has been based in Kyiv, the country’s capital, for the past four months. In a video interview with The Straits Times, he shared how he had heard a loud explosion at around 10pm on Wednesday (Feb 23), which is 4am on Thursday, Singapore Time, while standing at his home’s balcony.
“It was a very instantaneous flash,” said Shen, who appeared calm. “For a moment, I thought I saw the moon being covered by the clouds, but the clouds would not have been able to move that fast. And then about three seconds later, I heard a very loud boom, which sounded different from regular fireworks.”
Shortly after, he began to hear more explosions accompanied by air raid sirens in the streets.
But he also added during the interview that despite the tension in the air, there was “no panic”. “People are still very civilised as they queue up to pay for their purchases and wait for their turn to buy what they need… There are traffic jams for those trying to leave the city but inside the city, it’s still pretty calm.”
The couple do have a backup evacuation plan, but it isn’t something they are keen on at the moment, as it would “raise a whole series of problems”, such as having to battle the freezing weather while “stuck on the highway with no fuel, no food”.
Furthermore, his wife Natalia, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, is also a reservist medical officer and there is always the possibility of being mobilised. Though they do not have children, the couple are also worried about their distant relatives living in the port city of Odessa and are looking for ways to extend their assistance.
At the moment though, Shen said they are sticking to the Ukrainian government’s advice to stay indoors and added they have enough necessary supplies to last them for now.