Armed Forces volunteers, untrained civilians and veterans of the former Soviet Red Army barricade themselves at barricades and dig trenches
To stop the war, Vladimir Putin demands that Kiev recognize Crimea as Russian, the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk and that Ukraine declare itself neutral and not enter NATO, but Aleksander does not want to stop the war, he wants to win it and for that he asks “weapons”. “What we need are weapons,” says this veteran of the Red Army who helps load sandbags in the central Maidan square and stacks them in front of the subway entrances to ensure shelter for the thousands of people who sleep there every night. . Kiev lives against the clock.
The countdown to the entry of the Russians is on and no one has a minute to lose. The production of the small bags ends when the bags that the neighbors themselves have brought run out. “We cannot remain with our arms crossed in a situation like this. We all have to contribute something,” says this big man who served in the ranks of the Soviet Union troops and is now facing Moscow.
Maidan Square is the symbol, the heart of a country and the iconic place that every conqueror would like to reach to raise their flag. But to get there, the invading troops will have to overcome the defenses that have been erected with more care than means since the beginning of the war.
The armored column that crossed the border of Belarus has taken twelve days to reach the gates of Kiev. The kilometric convoy has suffered supply problems, but also harassment and ambushes. The newspaper ‘The Wall Street Journal’ revealed the deployment in the defense of Kiev of elite units, men trained by the United States and its allies in recent years and armed with state-of-the-art anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which it has helped mitigate Russian superiority. These forces also have air support from the fleet of Bayraktar TB2 drones, purchased from Turkey. The road between Belarus and Kiev has been marked by a string of charred Russian vehicles, military scrap that symbolizes the surprise that Putin’s men have taken with the neighbor’s preparation.
The resistance has lasted twelve days. Now the Russians are spreading their troops to the east and west, and the capital has been left in the middle of a horseshoe, with the only door open to the south. Regular forces are hardly seen on the streets of Kiev and the movement of troops is punctual. As you move north, the explosions are more noticeable and the situation of the Army volunteers, most of them retired men, and the militiamen, civilians who have decided to take up a weapon, who form the first line of defense, become more tense.
Search for the Spies
Can’t mention the place. Pictures cannot be taken. The checkpoint that marks the entrance to the capital is a nervous wreck. There, a dozen men armed with rifles are dedicated to “inspecting the cars that enter because the enemy can take advantage of this route to send spies or agents who want to commit attacks, so we make sure that everyone has their documentation,” explains Oleg, colonel retired man who fought with the Red Army in Afghanistan. He is the person in charge, the person everyone asks what to do and assures that “the Russians will not be able to pass through here, we will win”, he affirms emphatically.
The colonel rules over “a group of civilians who want to protect the city from invaders, each neighbor helps as he can.” Among his men is Sergei, who was caught by the war in Nigeria and has rushed back to be with his family and wield a gun. He hasn’t had much time to train, like most of him, but he remembers his years of military service.
This is the new frontier of a Kiev where, as the hours pass and night falls, the sky sounds opaque and the exchange of fire between one side and the other reverberates. Scary.
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