REPORT – “We are afraid”: they wanted to stay in Ukraine, they will have lasted four months before leaving the country

Nicolas Tonev (in Mykolaiv), edited by Laura Laplaud
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5:12 p.m., June 23, 2022


They were determined to resist, they lasted four months. As Russian forces intensify their shelling of Donbass and southern Ukraine, some of the Ukrainians who had decided not to leave their villages at any cost are finally starting to do so. This is the case in the Mykolaiv region, about a hundred kilometers from Odessa. Our special correspondent is on site.

Exile before losing my mind

The city is the strategic lock that prevents the Russians from advancing towards Odessa. The Russians know this well and it is for this reason that the region is the subject of daily bombardments. After four months of war, some of those who remained there could not take it any longer and finally chose exile before losing their minds.

The 86 names of people determined to flee the country are called to board a bus that will take them to Chișinău in Moldova. Under the bombs for months, these men and women have cracked. “Before our eyes, a five-storey building burned, charred, everything happened…”, says a resident. “I simply can’t take it anymore. It’s terrible, it takes my nerves. I don’t want to live here anymore when it’s my home, when my family, my parents, are buried here. Everything is horrible “, she continues, crying.

People with disabilities or with pets enter the white bus first. “Don’t worry, there’s enough space,” says Sacha, the driver. A 10-hour journey that Yevgeny will make with his 80-year-old mother, Valentina. “We have more savings, more salary and more work,” she laments.

“Russia stole our old age”

“We are afraid, holding on in such a situation is not possible, we don’t know how long it will last, you don’t see a perspective, you don’t see a future, Russia has stolen our old age”, regret Valentina. The bus moves away from Mykolaiv but the tension is still present. “Dear passengers, relax, don’t worry anymore, we have three hours left before the border, we are trying to do it as quickly as possible”, informs the driver. The last test: four hours between customs before this sad guarantee of security for all, outside their homeland.

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