Thoughts from Kyiv — Sunday 5 June 2022
This morning, after a pause of about a month, Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s capital resumed. Logistical infrastricture on the left (eastern) bank was targetted. In the Podil region where we are, the night was loud (antiaircraft fire), but no explosions.
During the past month, the war had become a bit distant. Receiving tragic news of the death of friends or acquaintances (most often – former students) had become an almost daily occurrence, but the actual battles are 400-500 km away, and so the distance is numbing. Today, the war came close again.
Our younger girls (13 and 15) waxed philosophical this morning: if a rocket were to hit our apartment, would it be better for us to be together or in separate rooms? Separately, there would be greater chances of survival, but then we’d have to live our lives separately too. These are not questions young girls should be discussing.
We’re off to church in an hour. Maybe that will help.
Watching the western news channels, it’s obvious that Russia’s war in Ukraine has become one of many stories — no longer the center of global attention. The media likes dynamism. This is a meatgrinder.
The turning point seems to have occurred after the surrender of Mariupol. The heroic defenders of that city were ordered to surrender “for the sake of saving lives”. I fear their existence in Russian captivity is far worse than death, but that story will again become news only sometime in the future.
In the future, many stories from this war will need to be told and retold: massacres, rapes, torture… It will all become known and documented. But for now, death rages outside of camera range. No video = no news.
For those who may have forgotten, we are now in a classic “frontline war”. Ukrainian forces are valiantly holding their ground in Severodonetsk and Zaporizhzhia, gradually counterattacking near Kherson, maintaining pressure on the enemy along a frontline that now stretches almost 1300 km (800 miles).
Such wars are won and lost by artillery (or so we’re told). The speed with which guns and shells can be brought to the front determines the result. No wonder the Russians hit the railway lines in Kyiv this morning. Weapons from our western friends are (supposedly) on their way, and some (at least) were likely channelled via the capital. This morning’s missile strike was logical, if not completely expected.
Yesterday, during the day, I tuned out for a couple of hours to veg in front of the TV. One on the channels was showing “War of the Worlds” – new version, starring Tom Cruise (Ukrainian dubbing). The analogies to our current reality were not hard to spot: the alien ships that had been buried in our midst for years, waiting for the right time; the chaos and futility of any attempt to flee a marauding invader; the absolute commitment of a father to his daughter (and rebellious son). And of course: the bloodthirsty enemy.
The story ends with a happy ending: evil is destroyed by a virus. Not by weapons. By a virus.
Freedom is a virus. But only if we actually desire it.
H.G. Wells wrote something on this:
“It seems to me now almost incredibly wonderful that, with that swift fate hanging over us, men could go about their petty concerns as they did.”
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