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The "war coffee" diary: How one woman in Kyiv is recording history with a real-time feed of the impact of war

How one Kyiv woman is documenting war
The "war coffee" diary: How one Kyiv woman is documenting war in real-time 02:59

Yaroslava Antipina prefers her "war coffee" black — no sugar. Every day, she sips on the cup, watching a deadly assault unfold outside her window as her life strays further from the one she has always known. 

Antipina has turned her Twitter account into a real-time diary of what it is truly like to be an "ordinary" person living through war, documenting her experience and posting photos since she awoke to the sound of explosions in Kyiv more than two weeks ago. With multiple updates every day, she has amassed more than 86,000 followers as she details the constant rollercoaster of emotions, thoughts and experiences. 

It all started on February 24: "11:45 p.m. in Kyiv. We decided that if we'll sleep a little only fully dressed. The backpacks are ready." 

Yaroslava Antipa posted this photo on March 1 as she and her son prepared to leave their home in Kyiv amid the war.  Yaroslava Antipina

She and her son tried to stay in Kyiv, stocking up on food and staying indoors with only the sounds of explosions breaking a stressful silence. Antipina's mother, who lives in western Ukraine, had been calling her, crying and worried over the situation. Five days after the invasion, they decided to go be with her. 

The day they left, March 1, Antipina posted a photo of a small, grey hard-shell suitcase. 

"It's all I can take with me. All my life is [in] this bag," she tweeted. 

This moment has stuck with her ever since. The suitcase, she told CBS News, represents the despair in leaving a sense of normalcy behind. 

"I don't know, still don't know, if I can return. It's not just the things, the belongings. It's about memories, people, everything I had," she said. "My coffees, my just regular days, all the things I cannot have with me, I couldn't take. I know that I'm lucky because I know people moved without anything, just in clothes as they are." 

Antipina  says she would give anything to go back to that time. Any problems she dealt with don't seem like such a big deal anymore. 

"War is a problem," she said. 

Moments before leaving their home, Antipina took a final look outside their window — a view of Kyiv's newly barren streets as people hid and fled amid freshly-fallen snow. She said that day was the first time it had snowed in Kyiv all February. 

"11:02 am somewhere in Kyiv. It was the last view from my window. My broken heart is crying," she wrote on Twitter. "...We're escaping." 

Before all this began, Antipina said she had an "ordinary" life. She started every morning with coffee and sweets. She worked both in the office and from home during the week, and on weekends, would enjoy a cappuccino, listen to podcasts and read books. Above her apartment lives a "sneezing man," whom she has never met, has no idea what he looks like, and yet often ponders over in her Twitter diary, wondering how he's doing throughout the war. 

Yaroslava Antipina tweeted this photo on March 4, saying, "6:10 pm in #Ukraine. Decided to add day by day no make up selfies to my Twitter war diary. The reasons: - I want to keep chronological face moods - I really don't know how much life for me left."  Yaroslava Antipina

She didn't realize how normal her life was at the moment. Now, very few people roam the streets of her city and children are rarely seen in public. It feels as though "years" have passed, she said.

When CBS News spoke with Antipa, she and her son were in her mother's home, trying to keep some sense of what she calls "that" life. 

"It's two different lives. In that life, I had peace. I had my regular activities. And in this life, I have a war," she told CBS News. "I will never have that life back because I have changed. Our cities have changed. We [Ukrainians] have changed." 

In "this" life, her sister and her sister's three young children have fled the country. Her son, 19, has not joined Ukraine's territorial defense forces, but has said he will if and when it becomes necessary. 

"If he comes to fight, to the territorial defense or to the army, I will join too," she said. "It's impossible for me just to sit here when my son is fighting. It's impossible. ... It's scary because your only child will be in the war." 

Antipa often talks about her "war coffee" in her tweets. There's nothing physically unique about the drink, but it acts as a tangible reminder that everything she craves, loves and desires is fragile, as every passing moment of war could bring a more difficult circumstance. 

The coffee, along with the photo of her last look outside her Kyiv apartment and her and her son's dream of traveling the world with a cat they will name "Victory" — "Victor" if it is a male, and "Victoria" if it is a female — are her "little things of hope."

"War coffee is resistance. Strength," she said. "...We Ukrainians need such things to survive, to be strong. Because for me the very hard thing right now is the uncertainty. You don't know what's going on the next day, next week. But we will manage. ... We have no choice." 

People from all around the world have responded to her tweets with their love, and their "peace coffee" in hand. Photos of coffee mugs have flooded her replies from Tennessee, Seattle, Illinois and countless other places. 

Keeping the diary has helped her cope with the situation and remember how things have evolved. But, she said, it's also for future generations. 

"To show them what the world really is, for you, for us, for ordinary people," she said. "...It's not about only blood, et cetera, but how our life can be changed in one second, and how important [it is] to keep this peace. And how important [it is] to be strong in any situation." 

"But [it's] also for them to be strong, to enjoy life and to keep the peace everywhere in the world, in every country. It's very important because the world is owning everything — families, lives, homes, hearts, everything." 

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