Ukraine. How the Citizens of Kyiv Quickly Organized Civil Resistance | International

Oleg fought in Afghanistan in 1987, when Ukraine was part of the USSR. He is now a retired Ukrainian army colonel who heads one of the civil resistance command posts. against the Russian invasion. Standing amid barricades made of sandbags, concrete blocks and metal spikes in one of the capital’s outskirts Kyiv, he refuses to have his photo taken and warns against publishing specific information on its location.

The group of men he leads take turns checking passing vehicles and suspicious individuals around the clock. But most of them carry no weapons, at least not in sight. While explosions can be heard in the background, the cold weather seems to be their closest enemy right now. Several men warm their hands on a wood-burning stove made from a barrel of oil, others unload “Molotov cocktails” from a car, and still others brew coffee on a table. Oleg says he wishes there were more cigarettes, but he is grateful for the help they are getting from neighbors, including women who bring them food.

On Monday, residents of Kyiv prepare barricades on Independence Square. luis de vega

“At night, we organize night patrols to detect groups of thieves who, unfortunately, take advantage of the country’s war situation to steal things,” says Oleg, who is one of the veterans of the group. “I know how to handle weapons and I can teach young people without military experience.” Oleg says he coordinates to some extent with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but declines to provide details as it is a “military secret”.

Sergei, 48, carries a Mossberg rifle slung over his shoulder. He says he is happy to be back in Ukraine “two days before the war started”, because he thinks it is his duty to defend his country even though he is not a professional soldier and his only training dates back to his military service three decades ago. A professional diver by trade, he was in Nigeria just before the invasion, working on an offshore gas platform.

Soldiers and anti-tank obstacles in Independence Square on Monday.
Soldiers and anti-tank obstacles in Independence Square on Monday. Luis de vega

For now at least, the fighting is still taking place far from the city center. The Ukrainian army began blowing up the bridges leading to the capital a few days ago, in an attempt to prevent Russian tanks and other combat vehicles to drive straight in. But the city is full of checkpoints like this. And most of the lanes of the main avenue that runs along the central Independence Square have been blocked by large metal and concrete obstacles. It has become a very real hazard at night, when drivers sometimes crash into them. Totaled vehicles have become part of the barricades throughout the city.

On Independence Square, the symbol of the Euromaidan revolution of 2014, volunteer citizens are also preparing for a possible attack. Women fill sandbags to erect barricades blocking access to subway entrances. Raisa, a 53-year-old cook, says she is “too old to flee” and instead volunteers in the effort to hold off Russian tanks. The same goes for her husband Aleksander, a 62-year-old engineer who also served in the Soviet army during the USSR era. He has a message for countries whose citizens have demonstrated against the war in Ukraine: “Please give our country guns, just guns.

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