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Ukrainian civilians arming Russian troops in Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine – Shards of glass, metal and shell casings, debris from a fierce and deadly street fighting in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, are scattered hundreds of meters of sidewalks. . Leading out of the site were bloody footprints.

The fighting, part of a two-night seesaw battle in the northern regions of Kyiv, left Russian trucks and a tracked vehicle burning on the highway. And it signals that, despite heavy assault, the Ukrainian military and a growing army of civilian volunteers are building a morale defense for the capital.

While military experts say the odds are stacking, for now, Ukraine’s combined defense forces have defied expectations by slowing down and in some cases, preventing advance of the Russian army, seemingly upsetting Moscow’s war plans.

The change to war was swift, almost bewildering for some. What just three days ago was a bustling, modern European capital, with its abundance of restaurants, bars and cafes, has fallen into an eerie war faster than it seemed imaginable. Trucks and cars with armed men without uniforms crisscrossed the streets. The checkpoints seem to go up at every stop, with men and women in civilian clothes, carrying rifles, stopping cars.

“When I heard the explosions, I decided I was ready,” said Olena Sokolan, a sales executive who received a rifle to defend the capital. “I’m a grown woman, I’m healthy and it’s my responsibility.”

Newly armed civilians and members of various paramilitary groups are fighting under loose command of the military in an organization known as the Territorial Defense Force.

“In the city itself, the territorial defense teams are operating quite effectively,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s chief of staff, said in a statement Saturday morning. “It turns out that everyone is going out to the army, protecting their homes. Analysts of the Russian General Staff did not expect.

At a recruitment center, where the Kalashnikov rifle was fired, several dozen people took part. Before receiving the guns, they were asked to form special units of about 10 people each and choose a commander, some of the people in the line said.

One group wore tight suits and camouflage jackets, some in tennis shoes and others in hiking boots. But they all wore yellow armbands that identified them as members of the Territorial Defense Force.

The new unit exited the recruiting center driveway and into the city, where booms could be heard throughout the afternoon. “Pride for Ukraine!” other men waiting for rifles shouted. “Glory to its heroes!” members of the new unit shouted back.

Men in their 20s to late 50s, from a variety of backgrounds, appeared. Igor, 37, an economist for an online retail company who doesn’t want his last name published for safety reasons, stood in line for a gun. He could only speak in a whisper and his lips trembled. In the distance, bombs and firecrackers could be heard.

“I never served in the military, the police or anything,” he said. He said he hopes to be able to figure it out. He was worried, he said. “But those who are really scared are sitting at home. They are not here now. “

Denis Matash, 33, manager of Milk, a nightclub in Kyiv, who stood in line with about 50 other men at the recruitment centre, said: “Everybody in our country needs protection – women women, girls, everyone. “I don’t think they understand where they come from,” he said of the Russians. “Look what’s happening here.”

Grigory Mamchur, 40, who works as a male stripper at Milk nightclub, part of Kyiv’s once-booming but shuttered nightlife scene, also fits a Kalashnikov.

“There’s not even anything to think about that,” said Mr Mamchur. “We will defend the country in any way we can. This may be our last chance. On Saturday in Kyiv, a city whose population before the evacuees over the past two days was 2.8 million, signs pointed to a bloody battle ahead, even if Russian forces should be quick. quickly declared victory over government buildings.

At the site of the 4 a.m. skirmish with Russian vehicles and possibly infantry – which took place along the central road, Victory Prospect, and less than an hour from the city’s central Maidan Square. miles – Ukrainian soldiers dug new trenches on Saturday.

The streets that were deserted a day before had come back to life somewhat. People stood in long lines at ATMs, shopping for essentials, donating blood or going to gun delivery locations. Air raid sirens sounded every hour or so.

No matter how hard they try, military analysts and even Ukrainian generals speaking late last year have acknowledged that the Ukrainian military has little chance of holding out for long and it’s not clear how civilians get their hands on guns. The assault field could prevent artillery shelling the city or Russian tanks rolling into the street. . After Saturday morning street scuffles that left Russian vehicles on fire behind, the Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksy Danilov, released a statement at around 7 a.m. that: We’re keeping the crowds out, as far as we can.”

But such assessments do not dampen the resolve of the citizens of Kyiv, who have protested or fought in the streets for independence twice earlier this century, in 2004 and again in 2014.

Ihor Zhaloba, 58, a history professor at a Kyiv university and a researcher at the Institute of History of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, said everyone in his family was worried about him but no one asked. You don’t volunteer.

“My wife is worried; IM worry; everyone is nervous,” he said in an interview at the recruitment center. “But nobody told me not to do this, not my wife, not my daughters. They all think I should be here.

About a mile away in another downtown district, two dozen men and women lined up to donate blood at the Regional Health Care Center.

Oleksandr Horbunov, 24, a programmer, said: “I’ll donate some blood, that’s the least I can do.

“I believe in our soldiers,” he said. “They will protect us. They have determination. Everyone is like that,” he added: “They said Kyiv would fall in two days, and well, it’s been three days and I don’t see any Russian flags in the city. ”

Iryna Koziienko, 42, a psychologist, said she came so the nurses could “take a little bit of my blood to support the body of my people.”

After the attack began on Kyiv on Friday, she said, “I’m scared sometimes but I’m also angry. You see this great weather today? It’s sunny, it feels like spring. The birds are singing. I don’t want war on my land.”

At the site of the fighting Saturday morning, bullets hit shop windows and a car hundreds of yards away. A tank rammed into the asphalt of Victory Prospect. The Russian military trucks on the streets of Kyiv had burned to a thick orange-yellow color and their acrid smell was faint.

Walking in the area creates a jingling noise, from metal fragments of destroyed vehicles, shell casings, broken glass and other debris. Small pieces of human flesh were scattered around the site due to an explosion.

A splatter of blood and bloody footsteps led into a basement garage, indicating a wounded soldier had entered.

Several families are sheltering in the garage, including an elderly woman and a man with a baby, sitting on blankets in the parking lot.

Elena, 36, a human resources director who doesn’t want her last name public out of concern for her safety, said she was in the garage during the battle. She listened to the thunderous explosions and the explosions of small arms and the thunderous explosions outside. She wasn’t sure how long it lasted. “It’s been an eternity for me,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/world/europe/ukraine-russia-civilian-military.html Ukrainian civilians arming Russian troops in Kyiv

Fry Electronics Team

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