Ukrainian volunteer fighters more

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) —Andrey Gonkluk served with Russian soldiers when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and called them brothers.But on Wednesday, the 68-year-old wiped his face with one hand and grabbed the rifle with the other, ready to resist. Their aggression Of his country.

“This is a blitzkrieg,” Gonkluk said. He stood in the rubble of a house newly shattered by what was called a Russian airstrike in Gorenka, a village on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, which was in dire straits when Moscow tried to seize Kyiv. rice field.

The white-bearded retired is one of the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who volunteered to protect their hometown from Russia. He and his son, Costia, were armed after the invasion last week. Together, they patrol the village.

Among them was Pyotr Vierco, 81, a French teacher who lost his wife Lydia to a skin cancer in the Chernobyl accident. Vielco said he had a daughter and grandson, so he was ready to shoot the intruder with a rifle. But he is also thinking about what to do without firearms.

“If they come here, if I don’t have a weapon, I jab them with a rake-but I have a weapon,” he said.

Volunteer advocates also share the pain of loss. Residents said at least two people from Gorenka were killed in a Russian week-old attack and 12 were injured. Some houses were destroyed on Wednesday. The women stood in the ruins and cried.

“There was a lot of destruction,” Gonkluk said. “But the people here are firmly in control.” Many men in the village have military experience like him.

Ukrainian troops have distributed weapons to those who want to protect the country and have deployed thousands of reserves. In Kyiv, civilians in jeans and winter coats wear yellow armbands, crouching behind piles of tires at checkpoints, and watching street corners.

They are numerous, but “try to get (more) weapons,” even if nothing is supplied, Gonkluk said. “We do it ourselves. We kill our enemies and steal our weapons,” he added.

During his Soviet era, Gonkluk saw the Russians as armed brothers. Now that has changed.

“Everyone who comes to our territory is an enemy. No one invited them here,” he said. “Some of them may be good, but it doesn’t matter to me. They came to kill my people.”

Gonkrk was shocked by the invasion of Moscow.He thought Russia would eventually take over the separatist territory of eastern Ukraine, but he did not anticipate a full-scale attack. In the center of a city like Kharkov It sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing across national borders.

Others increase their anger at Russia and head for the bomb shelter. “We don’t have to be released. Another Gorenka resident, Larissa Lipatowa, who escaped into the basement during the attack on Wednesday and leaned under a blanket in a container of tomato and jam pickles. Said.

In the eyes of a veteran, and despite the rubble at his feet, Gonkluk took great pride in the apparent setbacks the Russians faced that week since their invasion as the Ukrainians resisted. ..

“I thought they could come here, and in a day or two they would take Kyiv, but see how they’re doing so far!” He said.

Elsewhere on the outskirts of the capital, another volunteer advocate helped people cross the wreckage of a destroyed bridge on their way to the city. The man held a gun in his chest, grabbed a little boy’s gloved hand, and smiled shyly.

Others inched one by one across the river with exposed pipes when it was snowing. Locals said the bridge was destroyed to prevent Russia from advancing.

Some exhausted Kyiv inhabitants celebrated even the slightest victory. Rosa, who gave her only name, showed off her freshly bought groceries. “There’s bananas, butter, fresh croissants, everything,” she said.

Like Gonkluk, she decided to stay instead of running away. And she was armed only with her determination to enter the second week of a war that was almost unimaginable.

“We rush to the basement, tremble, worry, but believe in victory,” she said.


Follow AP reports of the Ukrainian crisis