Ukraine In Flames continues telling stories of resistance from the regions of Ukraine, once more going back to Kharkiv, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. The city’s role is not only of great military significance – it also has strong symbolic value. Given the initial Russian vision of its own invasion, which was based on the expectation of quick and easy victory, there is little doubt that the Kremlin expected Kharkiv to surrender and welcome Russian troops with open arms. Nothing could be further from truth.
Watch Part 1: Kharkiv live from the frontlines of Russian war
Officially Kharkiv is home to 1.4 million people. Unofficially, the number is much higher and up to 1.8 million people have been living in the second largest city of Ukraine before the start of the large-scale invasion. Now almost half of them have fled due to the almost daily shelling. Northern Saltivka, a suburban district of Kharkiv, is among the most heavily damaged residential areas in all Ukraine. Due to massive damage and difficulties caused by non-stop artillery strikes some of the districts remain without water, gas and electricity – yet, as we will find out, local utility providers have done the impossible to improve this dire situation.
Successful counter-attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the first half of May has forced the invading Russian troops to withdraw, easing the pressure on city, which is now beyond the reach of many (but not all) heavy weapons. So the air raid alerts keep being a soundtrack of life in Kharkiv, while many residents decide to come home.
Resilience of the city has been ensured not only by the Ukrainian military successes, but also by the local volunteers that have taken upon solving almost every issue of social and humanitarian importance in the early days and weeks of the Russian invasion. Alongside them, emergency response teams work day and night to clear off the debris of residential buildings, hit by the Russian missiles, and save the people from beneath the rubble of from the fires.
Kharkiv stands tall – and so do the towns and villages surrounding the administrative center of the region. Part of it is temporarily under occupation, and, after the Bucha massacre and other war crimes have been uncovered, helping people to evacuate as quickly as possible is one of the primary tasks. United territorial communities, particularly after the decentralization reform, had vivid and fulfilling lives of their own, not worse than in the large city of Kharkiv. Homes to cultural and historical heritage of national significance, such as Hryhorii Skovoroda Literary Memorial Museum in Skovorodynivka (destroyed by a precise Russian strike on May 6, 2022); points of industrial and agricultural development – many of them were in the middle of building new schools and hospitals, renovating their libraries and culture centers when the war came. The experience of local people should be amplified alongside the heroic resistance of Ukrainian cities themselves.
- Pavlo Fedosenko, journalist and volunteer from Kharkiv
- Viktor Kovalenko, head of the Zolochivska territorial community, Kharkiv region
- Serhii Petrov, activist from Kharkiv.
UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Ukrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.
If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.
NGO Euroatlantic Course collects donations to support Ukrainian Army and civilians – https://eac.org.ua/en/main-page/.