In the centre of Lviv is The Church of The Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Also the Garrison Church. A good place in which to contemplate life on St Patrick’s Day. In such surroundings, my mind clears. My thoughts turn to family and friends.
I pray for the people of Ukraine.
I pray for peace.
The only sound is the gentle church music and the quiet sobbing of widows and children who come to light candles for their husbands and fathers. It’s highly emotive. Too much for me. I will return.
Finding a park bench in the bright sunshine, wrapped up against the chilly morning air, watching the people hurry-by and listening to the rhythm of vehicles thumping along the cobbled avenue; one might be forgiven for believing that all was at peace in the World!
Further south, about 600 kms; no such luxury. No time to sit and wonder. No time to enjoy the simple things.
The sound is of artillery shelling. The thoughts are consumed by the cold, hunger and safety.
Earlier in the week we had loaded 3 vehicles with provisions at SafeDrop’s warehouse in Lviv.
Odesa was the staging destination, with runs to Mykolaiv and Kherson. Our first aid drop was at the Odesa Children’s Hospital where we delivered urgently needed medical equipment. The vehicles were to be reloaded at a forward position and run the gauntlet into Kherson several times.
Over this period: 275 shellings were recorded, 47 hitting residential areas and infrastructure. Through this, we managed to deliver 6 Tonnes of supplies.
We covered 2,400 Kms in 4 days. The “New Crafter” – supplied by Addistone Group – performed with style. The “Black Crafter” and the Fiat are showing their age and require constant nursing; not easy in a War Zone, nor reliable! Despite the mechanical difficulties, the road conditions, for the main, were fairly reasonable and good timing was maintained. Karl’s vehicle knowledge was called upon several times.
The M14 between Mykolaiv and Kherson saw much fighting; the main axis for Russian invaders to take the strategic objective, Odesa.
The village of Posad- Pokrovs’ke lies along this route. Here I met Luba.
Luba had returned to what was left of her village. Posad-Pokrovs’ke once a village of 3,000 has been raised to the ground. The few buildings which remain just-about standing have been partially covered with blue awning, as some protection against the rain and the cold.
It’s difficult to imagine for how long this fix and mend will suffice.
In the longer term a complete rebuild will surely be the answer. But at what price!
Luba’s daughters were in Poland and Turkey. But she and her husband had returned to their home village . I found Luba to be phlegmatic and engaging with a smile that came naturally. Her attitude was truly inspiring. I gave her all the chocolate I had.
We will return with proper aid for her.
Luba’s village was on the front line of some intense fighting. Though the invaders didn’t get much beyond this point and were eventually forced back to Kherson and back over the river were they are today.
The area remains a Military Zone and we had to observe certain restrictions.
It’s a rush to return with re-loaded vehicles before 5pm, the time at which, niether personnel nor vehicles can be within Kherson Oblast.
We managed 3 drops by this time over 2 days.
The apparent lull in the strategic picture is understandable. There is a hiatus before the expected Spring Offensive; although the fighting on the front remains intense and unbroken.
The Kremlin continues to test the patience of the West and push limits. The recent MQ-9 Reaper Drone incident is an obvious example. The policy of denial and lies is straight out of the Kremlin Playbook. The evidence strongly proves otherwise!
How dangerous are they!
Thank you all so very, very much indeed for your continued support and help with Op SafeDrop. Luba and her Nation are hugely appreciative. Luba thanks you.
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