Russia’s progress in Ukraine has slowed recently, but the people of the strategic port city of Odessa are preparing for a possible Russian attack in the near future.
The decision is approaching in Odessa. Civilians in this historic and famous Kupolitan port city have seen other Russian warships circling the shore, air raid sirens ringing cobblestone streets, and the Russian Army trying to push west along the Black Sea. The sea shores are facing the dire situation that millions of Ukrainians are already facing.
Some city dwellers leave Odessa and head west towards the Moldovan border, or take a crowded train from north to Lviv. Sandbags are poised to protect some of the most famous monuments, but the elegant boulevards of the city with cafes, trams and theaters are now almost empty and full of tank traps.
But like many Odeskan residents, Valentin Cartashova is currently staying in his city. Kartashova, which operates a state orphanage, cares for 90 children, including newborns and people with severe disabilities.
“These kids need oxygen and breathing support to survive. I have received many offers from abroad. They want to see us at the border. I train these kids. Or can’t be taken by car.? Should I leave? Should I only take healthy things? “Shake your head and ask Cartashova.
Kartashova has decided that it is safer to stay in Odessa unless the children are exposed to an open flame after having enough supplies in the orphanage for at least a week.
A few kilometers from the city center, Olga Pavlova made a similar decision.
“I’m scared and I’m not alone with this. I think others are just as scared. But we stay here. We love our city and we stay. I volunteered. Who else is going? To feed these animals? “Ask Pavlova, a veterinarian working at the Odessa Municipal Zoo.
Hundreds of families left their pets at the zoo before leaving the city, but almost all staff decided to stay and continue working.
“We have decided it is better to stay here. Animals are our responsibility. We believe we will win this war soon. People will come back. Zoos, theaters, We need to make sure that the library is still here. We need to protect it to protect our culture, “says Igor Belyakov, director of the zoo.
He explained that some of the more nervous animals, such as the 43-year-old African elephant known as Daisy and some bears and zebras, were kept indoors in case they panicked by the sound of an explosion. doing.
Two Russian retirees, Alexander Nikrasov and Nikolai Ivanov, playing chess at sub-zero temperatures in a park near the Russian Orthodox Church, “worse than the Nazis” who occupied Odessa during World War II. Explains what happened.
“At least the Germans didn’t destroy the city when they left Odessa, but now it can,” says Ivanov.
“Mykolaiv [doğuda Rus saldırısı altındaki bir şehir] He is already suffering because he is protecting us. Of course, war also happens here. Are thousands of people dying? Is Putin wanting to rob us of something? Nikrasov swings his wand and asks. He calls it “my only weapon.”
Boris Kelsonski, one of Odessa’s most famous Russian-speaking poets, called from Italy, says he is “not a refugee,” but a few days before the city after receiving a literary invitation. I left.
“It’s a really difficult decision. What keeps you in Odessa? What is waiting for you abroad?” Khersonski assumes that the city will remain under Ukrainian control and he will return soon. He added that it was planned.
“If the city is under Putin’s control, I will not return. If Putin can occupy Mykolaiv, there is a straight road to Odessa. This place always has a wonderful cultural heritage, but Many writers have left Odessa over the years. Oduseus can generate many talents, but often cannot take care of them, “she says.
Here, as in many parts of Ukraine, many volunteer to join the local defense forces.
“I love my country. I want to live in a free country. My language is Russian, but now it’s an enemy of Russia. It may have been a surprise, but it might have been expected. I’m usually a pharmacy, but I’m currently learning how to assemble the AK47.
“I still don’t know how to fight, but we have to do our best. Maybe Putin has a problem,” says construction worker Dima.
During the airstrike, volunteers working at a food storage center near the city’s old Grand Opera House rushed to the basement. So a local singer took out a guitar to play Ukrainian folk songs.
“We do not expect our Russian heritage to protect us from bombs after seeing how Russian troops destroyed other historic cities like Kharkov,” he said now. Alexei Kostrzhitski, an IT specialist working in a local defense group, says.
“Mariupol and Kharkov are very pro-Russian cities,” says young city council member Petro Obukhov. “Most citizens here speak Russian instead of Ukrainian. Still Putin is bombing them. It doesn’t make sense. I hope he doesn’t bomb us anyway.”