Mykolaiv’s fate hangs in the balance, as Ukrainian soldiers dig in to defend the city – Henry’s Club

There are five adults in a minibus running from the village of Loche, who explain how only 10 of the 18 houses there remained standing. “There is no electricity, gas, water or heat,” says one woman, after a school collapsed. In the back seat, another Loch resident says: “The only ones left are those who can’t leave.”

In the back sits 75-year-old Halyana, who was originally born in Tambov, Russia. She remembers her late Ukrainian husband, with whom she left Russia to be with. She trembles and cries in the seat in front of her. “It’s never been like this before. I’m cold inside, shivering. So scary.”

Ukrainian soldiers stand fangs in the street, and three young soldiers show their guns at a CNN crew – despite journalists wearing “press” on their protective vests – before apologizing.

Ukrainian anxiety on the street has been fueled by fears of Russian saboteurs, but also by regional governor Vitaly Kim’s recent warning that Donbass separatist militants were attacking locals suspected of having links to the armed forces.

Within minutes, soldiers on the same highway had consolidated their positions on a post with cut trees and tyres, the fluid atmosphere on the road reflected in their changing appearance.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military destroyed several Russian military helicopters at Kherson International Airport, new satellite images from Planet Labs show. Images showed a huge black plume of smoke rising from the airport, with several helicopters on fire.

But nearby Ukrainian locations are crude: farm trenches dug along a highway marked by shale impacts. Some soldiers are local – pointing to their neighborhood in one city – and others are from the nearby city of Odessa, Russia’s ultimate target along the Black Sea coast.

The circumstances they face are staggering: this is not a trench network of delivery of Javelin missiles or sophisticated NATO weapons. Raw stoves boil water, and trees and soil form the roofs of the shelters. Russian Grad rocket systems target them every night; One soldier said the intense bombing stunned at least one soldier.

Nevertheless, their morale appears to be higher than that of the Russian troops, whom they had captured the week before, when a Tiger armored vehicle unsuccessfully attacked a nearby roundabout.

A Ukrainian soldier stands near a burnt Russian tiger fighting vehicle.
Oksander says goodbye to his son from the window of the bus in Mykolaiv.

One Ukrainian soldier said of the captured Russians: “They said they didn’t understand what was happening. They can’t go back, because there they are being shot at to retreat. So they Let’s move on.” Go on or surrender. ,

Across the farmland around the highway, rocket tips are popping out of arable land—a danger for years to come and a sign of how random the bombings can be.

At MycoLive, there is a huge line up of women and children as many buses ply around them. Sikandar, a soldier, bids goodbye to his son from the window of the bus, before returning to the city’s southern bastion.

Another man, a former sailor, helps push his wife and daughter onto a transport through the crowd. “This is my wife Xenia and daughter Varvara. She goes to Poland. After I come back. I go…” he said, pointing his head forward. “What should I do? I go to Poland? No, it’s my country, I’ll be here.”

The Russian army advanced from the occupied town of Kherson to pound the villages with the once peaceful plains.

Sirens in the evening, and distant gunshots that occasionally hit residential complexes in the city. Curfews have been established for weeks enforced by police patrolling empty streets. Their blue lights often flagged off stray, drunk locals. This is slow work. Every phone should be checked for suspicious photos of military installations.

Suddenly, there is a call from the surgeons of a major hospital for help in immediate blood delivery. Police blue lights completely illuminate the four-story building – the hospital appears almost invisible in the dark to protect it from Russian air raids.

Mykolaiv’s bombardment grew in ferocity and his indiscriminate nature. Sunday saw the worst example ever when a rocket attacked a store, killing nine people. One was the husband of Svetlana. She is sitting alone in a hospital room, her hand tied, her delicate form trembling. “Such misery,” she cries. “In an instant, all gone.”

Svetlana and her husband were buying candy for the funeral when the bomb went off.

Svetlana’s loss is in the weeks before her daughter’s death, in the Czech Republic, far from the war. She and her husband were buying candy for a funeral when a bomb exploded, stealing the only person left with them.

“We went to buy sweets to remember him,” she said. “Then the rockets landed and my husband exploded and his head was bled. And he’s still in blood and they took me here. And here I am and there he is. to pieces.”

The hospital staff has done everything possible to heal his injured arm, but they are too much to look after his health in the months to come. With blood still on her coat, she slowly walks out the door of the hospital, and back into town, in its cold, barren courtyard.