Despite being under siege for months now, Mykolaiv has been able to maintain its rich history and culture. The city is filled with life despite the ongoing conflict, making it a unique destination in Eastern Europe.

The “ukraine map” is a detailed blog post about life inside Mykolaiv, a besieged Ukrainian city. This blog post includes an overview of the city, as well as interviews with locals and images from the area.

Life Inside Mykolaiv, a Besieged Ukrainian City

Russian military bombard the port city of Mykolaiv on a daily basis. At the mortuary, bodies are stacked high. Residents, on the other hand, refuse to give in.


15th of March, 2022

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine (Ukraine) — Alla Ryabko was quivering with sadness and wrath in the municipal morgue’s courtyard. Capt. Roman Ryabko, her son, had been killed in action on the first day of the conflict in Ukraine, but his corpse had not yet been readied for burial after two weeks.

She pointed to the covered corpses on the ground and added, “He’s there laying in a bag.” “They aren’t even handing him over to me so I can bathe him.” I’m going to have to put him in a rubbish bag and take him away.”

The mortuary is bursting at the seams. Bodies, half-dressed in ripped military uniforms, spackled with blood and charred by fire, are being given to families in the condition in which they came. Bodies have been discovered in the hallway, the administrative offices, the courtyard, and an adjacent storage shed. Soldiers and people are bundled up in sheets, rugs, or nothing at all.

Artillery strikes rocked the earth under Ms. Ryabko’s boots as she screamed her misery. On that particular day, the mortuary had 132 corpses. There would be more to come.

Every day in Mykolaiv, shelling occurs. It frequently begins as a rumbling, thud, or thwack before daybreak. It electrifies the air and gives you a shock in the stomach, and those who choose to remain in bed rather than retreat to a cellar may close their eyes and let their ears construct a picture of the war happening in the dark.

Because it sits in their path, Russian soldiers seek to capture Mykolaiv. The city’s Varvarivsky Bridge is the only way to cross the huge mouth of the Southern Buh River for kilometres. By taking the bridge, Russian fighters will be able to proceed west down the Black Sea coast to Odessa, the Ukrainian Navy’s headquarters and main civilian port.

They must pass past Ukrainian forces who have so far refused to move in order to reach the bridge. As a result, Russian forces attack communities, hospitals, and supermarkets at random and indiscriminately, choosing for fear above military success. According to local officials, at least a dozen individuals were killed by airstrikes over the weekend.

There is, nevertheless, an unwillingness to give in. Trash is still being collected, and municipal workers have begun an intensive tree-pruning program, despite the fact that the shelling is causing some of the trees to fall.

There’s the family that shut down a high-end interior design firm and now spends their days distributing meals to the city’s poor, stopping only to escape into a cellar for safety. There was a group of locals who teamed together to attempt to repair a Russian tank that had been damaged during the battle so that Ukraine’s military could utilize it.

Even as artillery fire rattles the plate-glass windows of the Coffee Go café, a few streets from the mortuary, business is brisk. Viktoria Kuplevskaya, an 18-year-old barista with a streak of orange in her hair, stated that when the owners attempted to shut down, their young staff revolted.

She said, “We wanted to work.” “I don’t have any fears.”

Mykolaiv, formerly a major shipbuilding hub for the Russian Empire, was one of the first sites to be assaulted when Russian President Vladimir V. Putin issued the order to invade on February 24. Russian soldiers advanced well into the city boundaries only to be forced out, leaving behind burned-out armored vehicle carcasses.

Nobody knows how long the Ukrainian defenders will be able to hold out. Russian soldiers have pounded the city on three sides with tanks, artillery, and fighter planes. Every day, more people die. But there’s also defiance.

The Governor’s Office

“Good morning, everyone. “We’re Ukrainians.”

So starts Vitaliy Kim, the regional governor, in his customary morning video greeting. The joke among city residents is that no one will leave their houses until Mr. Kim says it is safe, and no one will be able to sleep peacefully until Mr. Kim says good night. It’s only a little exaggeration. His cheery videos on Facebook and Telegram, which he always starts with a peace sign and a toothy grin, usually get half a million views, approximately equal to the city’s population.

“We can go to bed when he smiles,” said Natalya Stanislavchuk, who volunteers to give meals to the hungry. “If Kim says we can sleep peacefully, we can sleep peacefully.”

Mr. Kim releases videos throughout the day, a combination of comfort and scathing criticism of Russian soldiers, whom he calls to variously as stupid, bastards, and orcs, Tolkien’s nasty snaggletoothed army of the east. Even though the explosions they’re hearing feel terrifyingly near, the messages are supposed to lift people’s emotions.

Mr. Kim said in a message sent over the weekend that started with news of an attack on a civilian area, “What can I say, the 17th day of war, everything is great, the atmosphere is wonderful.” “We have liberty, and we are fighting for it.” Slavery is all they have. We want all of our dreams to come true, and we’re on our way to achieving that goal. “We’ll win together.”

Mr. Kim’s top goals a month ago were to improve roads and the region’s tourist infrastructure, with major ambitions to build a resort on a beautiful stretch of the Black Sea coast.

Mr. Kim remarked, “These were expensive, enormous, magnificent constructions that were required, and they were destroyed in one day.”

He now works with the military to ensure the city’s protection. Mr. Kim was clothed in green cargo trousers with a black revolver holstered to his belt as he met for an interview at the regional administration offices.

Any Russian attempt to take Mykolaiv, he predicted, would result in a bloody and destructive street-by-street firefight. Every street corner has a mound of tires and a ready-to-detonate incendiary bomb nearby. Residents are prepared to immediately plunge Russian soldiers into a smoky darkness, providing cover as Ukrainian fighters try to pick out Russian tanks one by one.

Mr. Kim described it as apocalyptic.

He said, “My method is to be far more joyful than is suitable for this type of setting.” “This isn’t to say that I don’t recognize the gravity of the situation.”

The Objectives

Like an early morning, the fireball lighted up the night sky. Another day of Russian artillery bombardment had started.

On March 7, Russian soldiers started an early-morning offensive that shocked locals out of their beds. Because they now spend so much time there, several people have prepared basements with beds and shipping pallets as impromptu bomb shelters.

Mr. Kim claimed in one of his messages, “They struck our city dishonorably, cynically, when people were asleep.”

The 79th Ukrainian Air Assault Brigade’s barracks had been damaged by a cruise missile while they were asleep. Eight people were murdered, and eight more went missing, their remains buried in the wreckage. The barracks were opened like a dollhouse during the strike, providing an unnerving view into a soldier’s everyday life: gray steel bunk beds, rules printed on the wall.

It might have been much worse if the missile hadn’t hit a row of poplar trees first, throwing it slightly off course.


15th of March, 2022, 2:12 p.m. ET

“We were incredibly fortunate that these poplar trees were here because if it had been a direct hit, we would have all been screwed,” said Vova, a soldier who was assisting in the body search. “The rocket’s trajectory was deflected by the poplars.”

That day was the same all across Mykolaiv. Residents in one densely populated apartment block alternated between clearing out their shattered homes and fleeing to basement bomb shelters as the strikes continued. When contacted by a reporter, one lady released a stream of vitriol intended against Mr. Putin, prompting her to apologize and then break down in tears.

The missile attacks blew out windows and shot shrapnel into furniture, walls, and appliances, shattering everything.

“Look at how the Russian world is helping us,” Marina Babenko, a mother of two, sarcastically said, alluding to Mr. Putin’s assertion that Russia is fighting a liberation war. “We were in good shape and had everything we needed.” Now they’re bombing women and children in residential areas. We don’t have any firearms. We have no choice except to hide in the basement. We don’t have the energy to do anything else.”

Residents in the immaculate Balabanivka area were cleaning up after Russian planes dropped a cargo of bombs early in the morning, leveling houses and killing a number of people.

Three hens sat by the crumpled ruins of Roman Nikora’s cottage, where a bomb had cut a massive crater out of what used to be his garden. A foul odor lingered in the air.

“Come, let me show you how we survived,” Mr. Nikora remarked as he led a visitor into the narrow basement where he had sheltered with his wife, kid, and parents during the attack.

The basement seemed to have been shook and turned inside out. Cabinets had been pulled from the walls, and a portion of the backyard had been forced through the windows.

Mr. Nikora, a 32-year-old businessman, described the Russian soldiers as “worse than Nazis.” “They claim they solely attack military assets and buildings.” “Well, we don’t have anything like that here.”

Mr. Nikora said he and his family had no plans to leave despite his fears of future bombings.

He said, “We’ll rebuild.” “I still have hands,” she says.

The Invincible

Two elderly ladies were sitting on a park bench in a metropolitan park, watching three little children play, when an ominous droning sound disturbed their talk. The sound of an air raid siren. The ladies continued to converse. They gently rose after a few minutes, loaded the youngest kid into a stroller, and strolled away in a leisurely manner.

The pace of life in Mykolaiv may now be dictated by Russian rocket assaults, but many people are determined to perform the song in their own key.

“There is no panic,” said Ms. Stanislavchuk, who spoke so admiringly of Mr. Kim, The Governor’s Office. “Our people coolly evaluate the situation and help one another.”

Ms. Stanislavchuk and her husband, Aleksandr, had intended to create a second branch of their interior design firm in Bucha, an up-and-coming suburb of Kyiv, where their son, Yegor, had relocated into a sleek, freshly completed complex, before to the conflict.

What You Should Know About the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

1st of 4 cards

A sign of European Union solidarity. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenian presidents traveled to Kyiv to express the European Union’s “unqualified support” for Ukraine and to give financial assistance. As conflict rages outside Ukraine’s capital, the visit was kept a secret until the last minute.

Instead, they were traveling around Mykolaiv, their hometown, last week, dishing out food and hoping for news from Yegor. After hiding in a cellar for many days from Russian forces who had captured the area, he was trying to flee Bucha with his pet rabbit, Diva.

Ms. Stanislavchuk, who was holding an Orthodox image of the Virgin Mary, remarked, “There are those times when morale falters and your attitude sours.” “However, if you notice that someone needs your assistance and support, you must stand up and move.” Then you understand it’ll be over soon since the truth is on our side.”

In the last two weeks, there has been a mass migration from Mykolaiv. Large convoys of automobiles and buses have delayed traffic at the Varvarivsky Bridge on recent mornings, with some carrying handmade cardboard placards reading “Children.”

The bridge serves as a means of escape. It is also a trophy coveted by Russian military.

However, if Russian soldiers reach the city, they will meet individuals like Dmitry Dmitriev, a local journalist who has abandoned his pen in favor of a submachine pistol. There were more firearms than journalists at his online news outlet’s premises on a recent visit, and boxes of ammo covered the floor.

“We’re all involved in the resistance,” Mr. Dmitriev remarked.

Nikolai Bilyashchat, a 54-year-old bus driver, will also be a challenge for Russian soldiers. Mr. Bilyashchat and his neighbors were peering into the open engine bay of a Russian T-90 tank last week, cigarettes dangling from their lips.

Ukrainian army had blown up a bridge the day before as the tank was passing it. It was still driveable, but it could only go in circles. The tank’s antenna pole was adorned with a Ukrainian flag, and a white Z, which had been used by Russian troops to identify their tanks, had been painted over in green.

Mr. Bilyashchat hoped to get it up and running so he could use it against Russian forces.

“We’re simply locals,” says the narrator. I’m not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination. “All I’m doing is assisting,” he said. “What are we meant to do now?” We must assist in some way. I’m not going to hide in my house.”

The Injured

Anna Smetana sat up on a cot, weeping, at City Hospital No. 3. She was a 40-year-old mother dressed in a peach dress with black polka dots, her shoulder and leg wrapped in enormous blood-soaked bandages.

Ms. Smetana and six of her orphanage colleagues had been traveling to a tiny town where the children had been relocated at the start of the conflict two days before. An armored Russian combat vehicle branded with a white Z started fire on the van about 15 kilometers outside of the city, she claimed.

“At first, they fired automatic firearms at us,” Ms. Smetana said. “Then the car caught fire and burst into flames, filling the room with smoke.”

She said the troops had instructed her to “go out, get out.” “They knelt us down, brandished their guns at us, and grabbed our phones.”

“We requested them to return them,” she said. “No, it’s not feasible,” they say. We’ve received orders.”

According to Ms. Smetana, the fire that enveloped the vehicle killed three of her coworkers. Ms. Smetana was shot in the shoulder twice and the leg once.

“There were rockets and explosives everywhere,” she claimed. “All we heard were explosions,” says the narrator.

According to Dmitri Kolosov, the hospital’s medical director, Ms. Smetana was one of 25 patients treated for wounds caused by shelling and gunfire on a single day. Shells had fallen in the hospital courtyard earlier in the week, spewing shrapnel in all directions, he said.

Mr. Kolosov remarked, “We thought coronavirus was a nightmare.” “However, this is hell.”

The Defenders are a group of people that work together to

A prop aircraft on the runway of Mykolaiv’s modest international airport is pocked by black strafe marks. The security screening area has been destroyed, and the leftovers of a soldier’s meal of tinned sardines in tomato sauce may be found in a second-floor lounge.

The airport was temporarily occupied by Russian soldiers early in the conflict, but Ukrainian fighters rapidly evicted them. Since then, Russian forces have continued to strive to establish control so that their transport aircraft can bring in soldiers and weapons to support their struggle and march west.

However, for the time being, the Ukrainians continue to block them. Ukrainian military may be seen on video firing shoulder-mounted rockets towards Russian fighters below from the top of the airport.

The Ukrainian flag was flying on a recent visit.

Sgt. Ruslan Khoda, who insisted on honing his English with a reporter, stated, “We have a pretty solid position and we’re waiting for them.” “There’s nothing out of the ordinary here.” We know when they’ll arrive and where they’ll come from. “Hello, Russian foolish lads,” we’re ready to say.

Russian soldiers looked to be hunting for weaknesses, according to Sergeant Khoda. They strike from the north and northeast before turning around and attacking from the south. Attacks are often preceded, he added, by Russian surveillance drones flying above.

“They are attempting to strike us from all directions in order to taste our protection and might,” he stated. “Russian forces had not anticipated such a powerful army.”

The Ukrainian aim, according to Maj. Gen. Dmitry Marchenko, commander of Ukraine’s armed troops in Mykolaiv, was to undermine morale by hitting Russian positions nonstop. But there’s one more thing to consider.

He said, “We are protecting our homes, our women, and our families.” “We don’t need their universe. We don’t need their lingo. Allow them to construct their own nation, die there, and establish whatever tyranny they like. “We’re going to live like free people,” said the group.

A Night of Boredom

Mr. Kim’s evening video address on Monday was solemn. He recognized that the situation had worsened, but slammed Russian soldiers for firing rockets into civilian areas, calling them “idiots.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he remarked. “However, we have taken the initiative and are going forward.”

On the 18th day of the conflict, he put the residents of Mykolaiv to bed with that.

“I wish everyone A Night of Boredom.”

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