My One-Month in the Ukraine War

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(Ogei Anton, Photographer)
Ogei Anton captured this image from the outskirts of where he lived in Chernihiv, a small town in Northern Ukraine. The 17-year-old recounts his experiences living with a war around him.

    Have you ever heard a whistle of shells over your head? Have you ever seen the death of ordinary people from bombs? Unfortunately, I have. I have lived one month in the fire of war in Ukraine. I want people of America and Europe to learn what this nightmare looks like in my hometown, called Chernihiv, a small town in northern Ukraine.
    I woke up early in the morning because I heard explosions. Immediately it became clear the war had begun. We had expected it for a long time, but found it no less shocking.
    I’m a 17-year-old student, and since I can’t take part in the hostilities, all I could do was observe what was happening around me. Observe and write down, then convey my memories to others.
    After two weeks of war, Russian soldiers approached. They tried to break into Chernihiv, but our troops repelled the attack. Realizing that it would not be possible to capture Chernihiv quickly, the Russians proceeded to lay siege to the city and began indiscriminate shelling, attacks and air bombing.
    Our troops could only help delivering ammunition and food along one road. We held this road, but our attackers stood in front of it, constantly laying siege. The Russians fired at everything they saw. That’s why the city had problems with food all month. Some people were starving, and some people were killed.
    Light, heating, gas, water – all this was gone as soon as the Russians took the city into a semicircle. They purposefully hit communications sights, hoping that in this way they could undermine the spirit of the city’s defenders.
    All month long, a bloody confrontation took place on the outskirts of the city. The invaders landed bombs from planes on us. I remember a 10-day period when Russian bombers flew in every night. At that time, we didn’t have a good anti-aircraft system in the city.
    I cannot describe in words the feelings I had when lying in complete darkness, without any light or water, hearing the rumble of an enemy aircraft. Only one thought was spinning in my head – “maybe a bomb will hit me now.”
    Our defenders had some Stingers, not an ideal weapon versus Russian night air attacks. Still, they must have scared Russian pilots since they dropped bombs anywhere dodging any possible response from the ground. Bombs often hit residential buildings, killing and maiming old people and children. After some time, we got more anti-aircraft systems, and Russian airplanes stopped regularly flying and bombing my city.
    In late March, the Russians, realizing their attacks had completely failed, and they could not occupy my city. They decided to retreat. I remember this day clearly, April 1.
    I then stood in line for humanitarian aid. Suddenly, news spread throughout the crowd. “Russian retreat, we won!” and at the same moment, there was a deafening roar. All our artillery, all batteries, which saved every shell during the siege, opened fire on the fleeing Russian columns. They fired all day, from early morning until late evening, carrying revenge for every dead person in my city. And in the evening, the Internet was filled with video from the outskirts of the city, where people from all over the world saw broken Russian columns and abandoned equipment.
    American friends, please remember our feat as the war winds on, and may you all have a peaceful sky above your head.

Ogei Anton can be reached at vovkadeg115@gmail.com.

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