“The city is gone, there are only ruins. It is impossible to rebuild. If the Russians took it too they would have conquered rubble”. In a nutshell, Anastasiya sums up the paradox of the invasion of Moscow: in his destructive charge he no longer even serves his interests. Anastasiya is one of the thousands of people who fled the martyr city of Mariupol. His house, like 80% of the buildings, was devastated by Russian bombs. She, with her two children and her husband who was injured, fled first to Berdiansk, then to Dnipro, finally to Odessa. Staying at the Dream Hostel which, since the beginning of the war, has hosted dozens of evacuees from the East, giving them a first comfort.
Georghe, the owner of the hostel, has been running a voluntary association since 2014 to help the elderly, women and the frail during the Donbass war. With the start of the war he made his hostel directly available.
“We built this kitchen in a few days. We want to give a little rest to those fleeing from Kherson, Mariupol, Melitopol. People exhausted by the journey”, he explains to ANSA. At her side is one of the latest arrivals, Anastasiya. A missile did not hit her building for a few meters but still devastated her apartment by blowing up the windows. “The first thing I did was cover my son in shrapnel, we were lucky,” she recalls as she holds this baby so small that he hasn’t learned to speak yet. They are all headed to Romania, where this young mum has a promise to work in a local company. “I don’t know how long I will stay there, one day I would like to go back to Ukraine, but there is nothing left in Mariupol”.
The memory of the bombs is vivid. “My husband, even before February 24, told me to get out of there, and then he was very calm”. Then came hell. “In 2014 this was not the case, you could hear the sounds of the battle in the distance, not in the center. There were no air strikes,” explains Anastasiya. She is certainly not the only one to have arrived in Odessa from Mariupol. Kateriyna Yerska, in the martyr city, was a volunteer and a local chronicler. “Putin will go all the way, up to Europe. Like all dictators, he will continue until his very end”, she told ANSA in a telephone conversation. For Kateriyna, despite 2014, this war marks a point of no return between Russians and Ukrainians. “But let’s be clear, this is our land. We have been here since before the Russians, since the times of Kievan Rus'”, he underlines, recalling the great kingdom of the Eastern Slavs which, around the year 1000, reached its maximum expansion occupying between the other the very large part of present day Ukraine.
Words, those of Kateriyna, which are reflected in the strenuous defense of the Southern front and Odessa, called by its mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov his “personal front”. So far, almost 490 tons of humanitarian aid has arrived in Odessa, and in the last few hours the defenses of the city have been increasing. The Ukrainian army has embarked on another round of exercises to deal with what, in the coming days, could be one of the last Russian offensives from the Black Sea. In Odessa they await it and, in the meantime, military and tanks are also moving in Mykolaiv, to further secure the southern line. “From now until next week we will know the truth”, explain several local sources. Convinced that, after crossing the ford, perhaps victory will be very close.