АвторAuthor: Alexey Antonenko | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
18 June 2022
Ludmila’s life in Sumy was happy and carefree until the war broke out in the city. Together with her family, during the evacuation from her hometown, she not only faced difficulties, but also met a column of Russian military equipment that was going to “liberate” Ukrainians from the Nazis.
My name is Lyudmila and my life, like the children of Ukrainians, came in two parts – ‘before’ and ‘after’. Before the start of a full-scale Russian war in peacetime and after February 24, 2022. I used to be an apolitical person, as well as among the representatives of the city of youth, I lived in Sumy, where I worked as a bartender in one of the restaurants in the city center. However, since the beginning of 2022, I have heard more and more often, as if according to American intelligence, Russia is going to attack us in the near future. Instead, none of us seriously believe the information, believing that it is all political beams.
That morning I woke up about 6 years old from the sound of a phone call, as it turned out my boyfriend David was calling. At that time he was in Kyiv at work. The first thing he told me was the word “Began.” I did not understand at first. I ask him: “What exactly began?”. Like it was a joke or a prank, and I fell asleep and not in a hurry, and he decided to surprise me with something. In response, I heard that the war had begun and Kyiv was being bombed. So we decided to follow the news on TV and the functional instructions that will be announced on the screen.
“Then I turned on the TV, where I heard that at 4 am I signed an order to start the so-called “military operation” on the territory of Ukraine and launched a full-scale military offensive”.
Missiles, military aircraft and artillery columns flew towards Ukraine. However, they advised to keep, keep calm, you just need to control, stay safe at home and take on every case and the so-called “alarm roller”. I looked out the window and saw that the bank branches and pharmacies nearby were closed at the time, but people started queuing. Then I picked up the phone and called my sisters. I asked her what they were planning to do. However, I was also thinking about evacuating and asked me to buy a baby formula for my three-month-old nephew in the store.
On the street, I came across just crazy queues at grocery stores that stretched from the entrance to the store. People with big suitcases also started to appear, as if they were going on a trip. I want to emphasize that Sumy is a student city and we have many foreigners, including students from India. So, the latter also stood with safety suitcases in a confused state and do not know what to do.
It was rather strange that in the center of the city no special transport was observed, nor was a taxi visible. While I was standing in a long queue at the pharmacy, I noticed that there was no panic as such. People just talked about the range of drugs available in pharmacies. But there were no guarantees to buy what was needed. Also in the queue you could repeatedly hear remarks about the possibilities of payment by bank card, discussed this information, and decided to do in the future, possibly evacuation routes. About 8 o’clock in the morning bread in grocery stores bakeries available and no longer observed. I bought everything I needed and returned home.
On the phone, I learned that my husband and I decided to go to my parents, who live in a village in Chernihiv region. I am also happy to join them. In peacetime, you can get there by car in two years. Gathering things, money, documents and some clothes, I continued to monitor the latest news. Suddenly there was a phone call. Called from work and asked to help put in the freezer products that I made. Towards noon my sister called and said that they were leaving so that I could go down. Picking up my things and the hamster, I headed downstairs. At first we thought to move to the gas station and fill a full tank, so we have enough to get to our destination. However, out of many long queues, they decided not to waste time and go.
So, closer to noon, we set off with an incomplete fuel tank and a small child. I will note how much gasoline we need to get to the village. We headed in the direction of Konotop. The vast majority of cars on the route went to meet us, in the direction of western Ukraine. This was due to the fact that the Chernihiv region, where we were going, borders on Sumy, and therefore is at risk.
About halfway there was an event that we will remember for a lifetime. The fact is that our car hit a convoy of military equipment moving in the direction of Konotop. There were tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored vehicles, many military KAMAZ trucks and other equipment. Given that no explosions or shots have been heard so far, we thought they were ours and even rejoiced that they were going to defend our land from the enemy. However, as it turned out later, we were sadly wrong, so there were racist soldiers. The length of the column reaches no tank kilometers, no identification marks in the form of “Z”, “V” or others were visible, there were no flags at all, and it is not possible to see anything. The only thing we noticed on the left arm of the military was red headbands.
It should be noted that on the route still behaved adequately and passed single civilian cars moving in the same direction. Probably the occupiers expected that they would meet here with flowers and bread and salt, about which all their ears were “buzzing” yesterday. Some tanks also drove in two rows in their direction, but as soon as we caught up – they gave way to us. Given the obstacles, the speed of the car is constantly decreasing. As a result, we began to worry about whether we would have enough fuel to reach the gas station. Sometimes there were villages along the route, the inhabitants of which also went out to move the colony of military equipment without identification. The look on their faces was more curious than frightening. Eventually, we overtook the whole column and headed on. Fortunately, the route was empty, which meant arriving at the destination as soon as possible.
Instead, it did not happen as expected: somewhere at the entrance to the town of Konotop in the Sumy region, we saw Ukrainian soldiers building a checkpoint and digging trenches in the middle of the road. Ahead of us were several other civilian vehicles that missed, but instead signaled us to turn around. Of course, the prospect did not use us like that, and did not even rejoice, because it was not enough and we would not have enough to go back. Once it happened that they saw a small child in the cabin and let us pass. In Konotop, we immediately went to the gas station, where at that time there were strict fuel restrictions and sold no more than 10 liters of gasoline per car. After refueling, we went on, to the destination left to go about half an hour. Here my father called us and we were very pleased that the Russian occupiers had captured the town of Korop and were heading towards Konotop, so we need to hurry because they are worried. He advised to go through the landfill. The problem was that none of those roads knew, in addition, the snow began to melt and the car could just boot. So, despite the very high risks, such as a short distance from Korop to Baturyn, we went through Baturyn. Looking ahead, I want to say that this night in Konotop the fighting began, that is, a column of Russian military equipment that we met on the way attacked the city. A column of occupiers from the town of Korop also arrived there.
We got to the village very quickly, without incident. From the first night, instructions were given to support light masking, ie the whole village was plunged into darkness. As the Moscow highway was nearby, there was a rumble from there all night, as if railway trains were moving. In the distant night side of Konotop, sounds resembling a thunderstorm were very audible, as it turned out later – these were the sounds of cannonade of the heroic confrontation of the military of the Armed Forces against the Kremlin occupiers. To date, it has become known that our army continues to repel Konotop, trying to drive out the racist abomination. The situation with food there is very difficult, there are no green corridors.
Now I am being evacuated to a safe place, I am fine. I believe in Ukraine’s speedy victory. So far, our army has completely liberated the Kyiv region, I am proud of our soldiers, and I hope that they will also be able to liberate Konotop as soon as possible. From the area of that area the sound of fierce fights is heard, break also that new forces of the Russian military come from Russia. However each new day brings us closer to the Victory. Glory to the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Everything will be Ukraine!
The interview with the heroine was recorded in early March.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Alexey Antonenko | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
“Frightened, we sat in the school basement. Azovtsi told us that everything is going to be alright, we will deal with everything, and we will win,” — this is a story of a woman from Mariupol who was at the hottest spot