December 10, 2023

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Kharkiv pushes the invader back | War in Ukraine

Roads on the outskirts of the city are littered with burnt armored vehicles, many symbols of the most violent battles that have taken place there. In the first days of the invasion it was attacked by Russian forces, and the second city of the country was heavily bombed, thus expelling large parts of its population. But in a relatively quiet state, more and more citizens are eager to come back.

Destroyed Russian tank.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-François Bélanger

Oleksandr and Lyudmila Nishcheta go to the extent of crossing the city limits. Because this retired couple owns a house in Vilkiva, fifteen kilometers east of Kharkiv. The journey to get there was fraught with difficulties.

The Ukrainian military has plenty of checkpoints, in each of which soldiers are raising warnings: the situation is becoming more fluid; The area is still subject to occasional bombings; Retirees need to understand that they are going there at their own risk. Quickly, rows of dilapidated houses on either side of the road ensure that the clashes do not only destroy military targets.

Portrait of Alexander and Lyudmila.

Oleksandr and Lyudmila in front of their house remaining in the Kharkiv region.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-François Bélanger

But when they arrive in front of their house, a playful barking concert greets them. Rick, the neighbor’s dog they thought was dead, ran up to Lyudmila and covered her with saliva with a huge lick of her tongue. Immersed in emotion, the sixty-year-old, relieved, embraced him, hugged him, and repeated the words of assurance to him.

But once through the gate of the property, a sad scene awaits them. A shell dug a large ditch in the garden and destroyed the facade. Olexander sighs, he walks over the rubbish, rubs his head frantically, and repeats to himself loudly: It’s a dream, it’s scary. Then he tells us: This is how the Russian peace looks like.

His wife joins him and shares his grief. They quietly look at the faade and then friendly identify the location of the two Ukrainian soldiers guarding the neighborhood. This is our land, our motherlandRecalled Alexander with conviction. And no one is going to force us out of here. His wife nods. He notes that his sense of belonging to the Ukrainian people has risen since the February 24 invasion.

We are strong. No one has made us as strong and united as Vladimir Putin. nobody is here.

A quote Lyudmila Nishcheta
Alexander and Lyudmila behind the burnt van.

Alexander and Lyudmila observe material damage following the path of the Russian army.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Emilio Avalos

Retired couples have Russian as their mother tongue, as do residents of the Kharkiv region. But when she sees traces of Russian soldiers in the house, she feels torn between hatred and contempt.

He particularly detests Vladimir Putin’s use of Russian speakers like himself as an excuse to invade Ukraine. It is said that peaceful Russian soldiers came to free usShe said jokingly. Free us from what? I do not know. By this time, they had largely freed us from the Russian language.

Pronounce the last sentence slowly and emphasize its importance in the Ukrainian language. Like her, many Russian-speaking Ukrainians are now ashamed to speak their mother tongue and now choose to speak Ukrainian. As they leave, Alexander and Lyudmila ask a neighbor. Like 87-year-old Vasiliy Orinchin, he did not move out of his home throughout the occupation. Weak shadow, curved back, old man quotes an old proverb to describe himself.

Portrait of Vasily.

Vasily did not leave his home during the Russian invasion.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-François Bélanger

I will die where I was born and where I was baptized.

A quote Vasily Orange, a resident of Vilhivka

The man says he saw Russian soldiers on the street in front of his house when he looked out the window a few weeks ago. He takes us to the back of his modest house to show us Memory That we left him.

Less than a meter from the wall of his house was an unexploded rocket stuck in the soil. He says it fell at midnight and it woke him up because the walls shook. They threw a bomb and it fell on my houseBefore he can add, he concludes with a smile in his eyes: Me, I did not ask for anything.

Vasily vows to stay home until Ukrainian deminers arrive. He feels very safe as the Russian soldiers leave the surrounding towns and villages.

Ukrainian soldiers with artillery pieces.

Ukrainian soldiers are preparing to attack Russian positions.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-François Bélanger

The village hears a dull noise. Two heavy-duty artillery pieces pass through Wilkievka. The 203mm motor-mounted guns suddenly stand in a field and position themselves sideways. The swarm of operators immediately spread out to charge them and point them in the right direction.

Two thunderbolts quickly burst into the sky as a large fireball erupts from the muzzles of the cannons. The surgery lasted only a few minutes. Quickly, after the shooting, the gunmen began to pack. This is because these weapons of the traditional old design of the Soviet era are vulnerable to counter-attack. So the Ukrainian soldiers relied on nomadic and different firing structures to defeat the enemy.

In the view of Gron, commander of a special unit called Duman, which means fog, speed of action and vast knowledge of the terrain are essential assets. The tall guy with the full beard looks like a somewhat good-natured grandfather. But there is no doubt about the iron vision we feel behind his ballistic glasses and his determination to carry Kalashnikov on his shoulders.

We are all sure we will win, He points to his men and confirms by waving his hand. He attributes a number of factors, including the extreme rigidity of the Russian army’s command chain, its supply problems, logistics and the low morale of its troops, to weighing the enemy and supporting Q’s troops on the ground. But for him, it was the undefeated motivation of the Ukrainian militants that made the difference.

We are fighting to protect our soil, our motherland, our women, our children, our future. There is no better motivation.

A quote Gron, Commander, Duman Special Forces, Ukrainian Army

His right hand, Noam de Guerre WestTo show us his collection, he takes us to the bunker next door Cups. There are a series of weapons left by Russian troops lined up on the concrete wall. RPG7 rocket launchers, machine gun duchkaA gun Sniper Dragunov. Gifts from RussiaParadoxically he says.

NLAW worn on the shoulder.

NLAW gift from the English.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Emilio Avalos

But this was another gift, which, from Britain, was very useful on the battlefield. Orest shows us the NLAW sitting mainly in the bunker, the most modern anti-tank rocket launcher that destroyed many Russian tanks.

The officer is taking the opportunity to appeal to Western countries, asking them to provide the Ukrainian military with more modern weapons and special equipment such as night shots. The only way, according to him, is to put an end to the conflict quickly and thus reduce the loss of human lives.

A brutal and unwise war, the end of which Alexander and Lyudmila wait impatiently, signifying its great numbers; Tens of thousands of victims and millions of people are now homeless.

As he leaves the half-ruined house, Alexander, realizing his wife’s sadness and despair, embraces her and whispers in her ear: We will recreate everything, don’t worry.

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