End this war that is going nowhere!
(Odessa, Ukraine) As I write these lines, the luxurious port city of Odessa is plunged into darkness for another evening. Electricity has been shaky since Russia’s latest strikes on infrastructure. It comes back suddenly for two hours, then disappears, we don’t know how long. Water supply has been patched, but some buildings still don’t have it.
Despite everything, my guide, Violetta Diduk, arrives at the hotel dressed to the nines, with flawless pink nails, a small blue and yellow silk scarf in Ukrainian colors, and lipstick to match her coat. I tell her that I admire her endurance and desire to be beautiful. He sighs and spills the beans, “Can’t stand to congratulate me! Of course, we are determined, of course we will not submit. Of course! But admiration is not what we need! These are the weapons to hit the Russians at home, to end this war that is going nowhere! »
This war that is going nowhere? I have been here for 10 days and I feel the same. What are these missile attacks that the Ukrainian military has been overwhelmingly destroying, these attacks primarily harm the most vulnerable? Who is Vladimir Putin really targeting? Babushka Tania?
As Europe, the United States and Canada come together at the initiative of France to talk about reconstruction, Violeta asks the West to give her country whatever it needs to stop this war that is going nowhere. How many deaths are there? Over a hundred thousand? What about the wounded? What about refugees? What about those who are traumatized?
Because in addition to these surreal strikes, there is a war in the east and south of the country that has caused human casualties. More precisely, a few hours ago I met two settlers from Kherson, the city of martyrs. Olga Pavelko, 72, and Ludmilla Rudenko, 53, each in turn described to me the horrors they were now experiencing; corpses scattered in the streets, rain of shells, burning houses.
Driven out of the city by the incredible offensive of the Ukrainian army, the Russians are pulverizing everything like a cry of rage, breaking all the conventions of war, targeting civilians, hoping that we will surrender under pressure, as we did in Mariupol last spring. But it’s nothing. Still, it’s going nowhere.
Volodymyr Omelyan, the former infrastructure minister of Ukraine and now a military man, is returning from four weeks at the front in Kherson. He explains to me: “Russians don’t think like us. Dozens, not individuals. Our men have to deal with waves of poorly trained soldiers being systematically shot down. The bodies are piled up like garbage (another humanitarian disaster). And he uses it. Then there is the tireless artillery. The same scenario is on the eastern front, around a town called Bakhmout, whose images on social media evoke the trench warfare of the First World War. Besides, it’s not going anywhere.
“The Russians want to wear us down,” the former minister tells me. They want us to tremble and thus pass the steam-wheel. But Ukraine does not hesitate and the war continues. So, apart from 100,000 displaced people in Odessa every day, there are also those from Kherson and Donbass.
And despite this horrendous humanitarian waste (and I haven’t mentioned all those torture victims), Russia is lagging behind, unable to recapture the territory it lost in humiliating retreats after Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the fall. Defeat for Vladimir Putin is a descent into hell. He has every advantage in continuing the fight… even if it doesn’t go anywhere.
“The West needs to stop fearing escalation,” Daniel Bilak, a friend and Canadian businessman turned soldier working for territorial defense, reiterates to me. Indeed, there is a consensus among officials and civilians that preventing nuclear escalation (which is already impossible, as Russia has nothing to gain) would mean that Vladimir Putin’s forces could do no more than they already have in retaliating against Ukraine. Thus, Russia would already be at the end of its capabilities.
Therefore, Ukraine moves to the second level. He is no longer waiting for the green light from the West. Over the past week, it has used its drones to blow up ammunition depots, railway bridges, fuel depots and military bases inside Russia and in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.
“We cannot watch the destruction of our infrastructure with our hands! Violetta, a woman who has nothing to do with the instigator, tells me. He is right.
This is not an escalation, as some have argued, but a necessary political and military measure for Ukraine to limit the humanitarian damage caused by Russia’s brutal drone and missile attacks on its country’s infrastructure and people. But in order to succeed, the Ukrainian army cannot do this with its own arsenal, it needs American and European weapons.
I tell Violetta that the former minister of infrastructure predicts the victory of the coming summer and vacations on the beaches of Crimea. A huge smile forms on her fuchsia lips. He wants to believe it. “You will stop in Odessa, I hope. You will see, Opera will light up! It is very beautiful! And we’re going to talk about things other than endurance. »