The Ukrainian capital has many sandy beaches, usually crowded during the hot summer weather.
But on this first weekend of July, despite temperatures close to 30°C, there is no rush to put down your towel, witness to a city that is still living in slow motion, three months after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.
Compared to the rain of bombs that fell on the Donbass, in the east of the country, or the deadly strikes in the south, on Mykolaiv or last week in the Odessa region, kyiv remains relatively spared.
But a missile which left one dead and four injured on June 26 in a residential building, in a district near the center already hit twice in the past, revived the anxieties of the inhabitants.
Many also say they are tested by the warning sirens that sound regularly. And the daily curfew, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., like the statues protected by boxes and sandbags, is a constant reminder that the country is at war.
Can we relax under these conditions? Ivan Soukhanov, 41, an electrical network engineer, is among those who seem to have found a balance.
“Honestly, after four months of war, we got used to it,” he said. “When the warning sirens sound, we don’t go to the shelters, we don’t respect the safety rules (…) We live as we can, hoping that everything will be fine”.
– “Never experienced such stress” –
He who, in recent years, took his wife and two children to spend a few weeks in Odessa, and had even thought this year of taking them to Egypt, has made up his mind.
“We wanted to show the pyramids to the children, but the war ruined our plans,” he says. “This year, we are taking advantage of what is around kyiv, the bodies of water, the parks (…) We are resting as best we can”.
Vera Sapyga, she may try to enjoy the beach, she does not hide her anxieties.
She returned to kyiv a week ago, after leaving on the first day of the war in a village in western Ukraine with her five-year-old daughter, and is already looking forward to leaving.
“Morally, it’s really very hard”, says this 37-year-old woman: “I worry a lot, with the warning sirens, the information. Every day, I cry. I had never known such a stress.”
She plans to leave with her daughter next week, to London, to stay with a family who have offered themselves as part of a support program for Ukrainians.
Vera Sapyga is in her second exile: the first was in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula where she and her husband then lived.
How long she and her daughter will stay in England, she does not know. “It’s very difficult to plan anything.”
– Incessant rumors –
A phrase that comes back like a refrain in kyiv, where no one ventures any more predictions about the duration of the war.
“At first, our specialists assured that the war would end quickly, then they said, It will be over for Constitution Day (June 28, editor’s note), then for Independence Day (August 24) , now they don’t say anything,” said Lioudmila Iachtchouk, 55, sitting at a table with her husband at one of the few open cafes on the beach. “We hope that (the war) will be over by the end of the year, but now everyone is talking about a long conflict”, added Mr Sukhanov.
Uncertainty fuels “incessant rumors” of a new Russian offensive on kyiv, according to the symbolic dates of the calendar: this was the case as June 22 approached, the anniversary of the invasion of the USSR by the Nazi army in 1941, or Constitution Day on June 28, explains Ianna Khlinina, 33, who came to sunbathe with her husband.
However, neither she nor anyone seems to doubt Ukraine’s final victory against Russia.
Ukraine “has already won morally”, says Ivan Soukhanov. “We just have to make it happen on the pitch.”