When I heard the propellers of russian helicopters Passing over her building and on her way to the airport, Professor Olga Yermuraki learned that the war had started 500 meters from her home and that her husband, a member of the Hostomel Territorial Defense, was in great danger. He would die minutes later because of a missilebut Olga went down to the shelter and tried to entertain all the children in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the professional poker player Olexander Kharkinsky was involved in a scam in the city of Khrkiv, without mobiles at hand, in a basement, with four other gamblers. None of them took the US threats seriously, so they didn’t appreciate that, 30 kilometers from where they were, the Russians had mobilized the largest army since World War II, that already breaks the border barriers as if they were toothpicks.
When Jarkinsky came out of that basement, with the first light of the day, the sirens thundered the sky and Russian missiles were already falling in the center of the city. So Kharkinsky took the car, filled up the gas tank, drank several coffees to keep from falling asleep, and took the highway, which at that moment was beginning to fill with panicked refugees towards the kyiv region. There was his old unit with which he had fought in the Donbs, and to which he planned to re-enlist. Four days later, with only a few hours of sleep, ambushed its first Russian logistics convoy in Ivankiv along with several mechanics students, ultras from the Metalist soccer team, gym thugs, a DJ, and three children’s teachers.
Margaryta Rivchachenko, journalist and model, got up in kyiv without hearing the anti-aircraft sirens. He had dozens of missed calls from his family, and when he found out what was happening, he went to donate blood and, that same night, tried to enlist in the Ukrainian army at a recruiting office. In the middle of the night, a soldier finally noticed her and took her to a kyiv metro station where a woman was teaching basic notions of first aid. Within hours he became a paramedic.
Alina Mikhailova, a kyiv councilor, put on her old Donbs veteran uniform and went in search of her old unit.
Hearing the first planes over Bucha, his hometown, Grigori, a 70-year-old retiree, opened his closet in search of his old Soviet uniform. He put it on and went to the town hall, where at that hour hundreds of young people were trying to enlist. They all laughed at him. Days later, armed with a tank destroyer, this old man with combat experience in Afghanistan he blew up a tanker truck and several armored vehicles in the street of the station in his city, where dozens of Russian soldiers burned and melted to the asphalt. Then I walked to his house and fell asleep.
A kitchen in the garden
At the same time, Tamara, a 66-year-old woman of Russian nationality, burned her passport and began to cook in the garden, now without electricity in the neighborhood, for the few neighbors who did not flee in the early hours.
Roman Zaverukha, a builder from Lepolis, opened his home to a couple and their son recently arrived from Khrkiv during those first hours of hell, stopping only to refuel. In addition, he offered to drive for free with Western journalists who came to his city. It was coordinated by Sergei, a jazz bassist, who put his four-piece band to look for empty houses for refugees, recruit volunteers to protect the city’s historical heritage, distribute sandwiches at the train station or organize trips to the border with Poland. .
Vladimir Putin designed his Special Military Operation knowing first-hand the troops that Ukraine had, its manufacturing capacity, its bridges, airfields and communication nodes. He had a dense network of spies and a plan to buy off corrupt politicians and the military, but he believed that Ukrainian civil society was as gagged, as anesthetized, and as manipulated as he himself maintained the Russian one. He thought, and his big mistake was gone, that the Ukrainians received the troops with flowers, with a mixture of submission and terror. However, the Ukrainian people, whom Putin denies, assuring that they are none other than the Russian people themselves, and therefore do not deserve to have their own state, decided to defend themselves.
Russian propaganda then assured through its usual channels that hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians fled to the rest of Europe to avoid fulfilling their military obligations. It was fake. Of course there were desertions, but they were minimal, because the vast majority voluntarily went to the enganchas before anyone called them, while the trains in which hundreds of thousands of women and children escaped from Putin’s bombs returned. full of expatriate Ukrainians ready to fight, women included.
That patriotic electricity that runs through every corner of the country from that moment until today did not emerge from the presidential palace in kyiv, but began within each Ukrainian in those first days of war and ended up reaching President Volodimir Zelensky, a Russpeaker of Jewish origin who has made part of his artistic career in Russia. That powerful cramp ends up reaching Zelensky’s bunker a few hours after the invasion.. So he already knows that the soldiers are still at their posts and that the Ukrainian state has not collapsed. The president is pushed to record a videosselfie in the middle of the night with his advisors and his Defense Minister, who went viral in seconds. The president is still here, is the message. Later, when Washington offers him a helicopter rescue to take him out of kyiv, he drops his best-known phrase, with Churchillian echoes, that flies in the WhatsApp of the Ukrainians: I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition. The electricity of the resistance then flows in the opposite direction, but this time from Zelensky’s bunker to the rest of the Ukrainians who are fighting, in one way or another, for the survival of the country.
The war, at that moment, was posed as a true war of independence, foundational heroic drama that will bring a new Ukraine, at any price, to finally break the heavy yoke of Moscow. All this is not created by Zelensky, but assumed by him.
Let us remember that Ukraine is possibly the country that has suffered the most violent deaths in relation to its population during the 20th century. From the tsarist repression, through the Holodomor or Stalin-induced starvation genocide, the invasion of Nazi Germany, the Jewish genocide, the subsequent Soviet occupation, the Beria purges and, finally, the shooting deaths of many unarmed protesters on the Maidenthe poisonous Russian intervention in the east of the country to arm the warlords of Donetsk and Lugansk and the large-scale invasion on February 24 to wipe the Ukrainian state off the map.
That factor, the motivation of the people, was never understood by Putin and that explains the errors that came after. Because firepower isn’t everything. While Russian soldiers have never understood the reasons for attacking the Ukraine, the Ukrainians fully assimilate the reasons they have for defending themselves against the Russians. Zelensky dressed in military green and vehemently and credibly conveyed to the world, already in the role of his life, what all this meant.
A few weeks later, that stubborn and fierce resistance of Ukrainian society, civilians and military, managed to stop the Russians at the gates of kyiv. Exhausted and defeated, they turned around. It was at that moment that the West understood that winning the war was not a bluff on the part of the Ukrainians, but a matter of life and death. That’s when help came, real help.
According to the criteria of