DNIPRO, Ukraine – Outside a large military hospital in the city of Dnipro, central Ukraine, people lined up on Sunday to donate warm clothes and water, while a priest moved through the crowd offering sips of wine saint from the silver cup and allowed those waiting to kiss the large silver cross he wore on a chain around his neck.
Serhii Bachynskyi, deputy director of the hospital, said that since the fighting began three days ago, wounded soldiers have poured into the hospital, sometimes as many as 80, mostly from the front lines in the east and south near Ukraine’s Crimea, said Serhii Bachynskyi, the hospital’s deputy director. The hospital has 400 beds, but the number of injured has exceeded this number in the past few days, he added.
Because Russian planes control the sky, it is too dangerous to evacuate the wounded from the helicopter.
“We are evacuating whatever we can; on trains, buses, people are volunteering,” said Bachynskyi.
Across the street, a group of military medics had just arrived with a pile of wounded soldiers smoking cigarettes and preparing to return to the front lines. They will provide some details on what they are seeing ahead, but say they are not short of work.
One of the doctors said: “Either we fight them or we all die. “We are trying and will do so until the end.”
On Sunday morning, Dnipro is an active group. The city, like many other cities in Ukraine, is preparing for war. Although the Russian troops are still at a distance, and the artillery fire that has become the anthem of many places in Ukraine is still unheard of, it is expected that fighting could strike at any moment. .
Bachynskyi, from the military hospital, said a group of Russian diversionary soldiers tried to parachute into the suburbs of Dnipro on Saturday. One was killed and three were captured, but four managed to escape and are now hiding somewhere in the area.
At all entrances to the city, groups of men are stacking sandbags and setting up tank traps. Soldiers with automatic rifles were interrogating motorcyclists and searching cars.
At Rocket Park, an outdoor display of intercontinental ballistic missiles and other rockets manufactured by the local Yuzhmash factory, men in black or camouflage are signing up for tours. Territorial defense convoys are being deployed to guard the city perimeter and patrol the center.
There, I met Timofei Khomyak, a musician I knew on a previous visit to Dnipro. Less than a month ago we were drinking beer at a Bohemian bar on the banks of the Dnieper. Now, he says, he has given his guitar to a rifleman: “I am not a musician anymore. Now I am a soldier”.
Nearby, people in civilian clothes were sorting and bottling boxing bottles to make flamethrowers. One man was organizing others, looking for volunteers to pick up bottles elsewhere in the city to fill with flammable liquids.
They speak Russian, which this part of Ukraine tends to prefer. But that doesn’t mean they plan to greet any Russian troops with flowers if they show up, as Russian officials and propaganda television insist the Ukrainians will.
“We are all Ukrainian and everyone feels that they are Ukrainian,” said Yefrem Korotkov, 25, who just signed up as a volunteer. “No one lets these ethnic Russians in here do anything. They will all die.”
At the age of 15, Bohdan Smolkov was 9 months too young to join the forces defending the territory, so he tried to help in various ways.
“My mission is to help my army,” he said. “Whatever they tell me to do, I will do. I sort bottles; they called me in to make Molotov cocktails. ”
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