Few towns still under Ukrainian control have been bombed as ferociously and as frequently as Mykolaiv.
A few months ago, the Russian forces had advanced within a few miles of the major shipbuilding port on the Southern Bug River, but in recent weeks Ukrainian counter-offensives have driven them back, although they are still within range.
Not a day goes by without incoming missiles hitting buildings – the universitieshouses, council offices, factories, apartments, etc.
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There seems to be no logic or strategy to what Russia is aiming for, just the gradual elimination of life.
I have visited the city several times during this six month war, and each time the destruction is more evident.
Although not strictly on the front line, we still enter taking the same precautions as if it were.
It’s worse at night. The hours of 3am to 5am can often be vicious. Few sleep through it.
“It’s scary to sleep,” says Tamara Ribova, 69.
“I fell asleep today at half past six in the morning. Terrible.
“I run down the hall and sit in the corner because there is no place to hide around the windows and the door.
“I run down the hall and sit down. And everything clicks.
“And when it calms down, you’ll get some sleep. I sympathize with the people in prison.
“I’m in a cell. I don’t see anyone or the outside world.”
“A ball of fire and dust flew into the room”
Her windows were blown out by an airstrike a few weeks ago – the glass landed on her sleeping granddaughter on the sofa.
She said: “It happened at 6.55am. Such a roar, so fast. It can’t be put into words.
“A ball of fire and dust flew into the bedroom through the open door. It picked me up and threw me onto the bed.”
The windows in his second-floor apartment are now clad in wood – the consequence is that no natural light comes in, so the electricity is always on, costing them money they simply don’t have not.
Down the road we meet Iryna and Lyudmila.
Iryna’s windows are also gone, now covered in plastic sheeting.
“I have no money, I have nowhere to go. Let’s hope there will be electricity,” she tells me with the resignation of someone who doesn’t believe there is. will have.
Without good insulation, people will die
Come winter, in just a few months, temperatures will be well below zero here.
These are largely the elderly or sick people left here in Mykolaiv. Without good insulation, people will die.
We meet people repairing their homes, rebuilding lives destroyed by Russian bombs. Small gestures – fixing the front gate, removing debris from the yard – are acts of defiance and pride.
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“Every morning we go out into the street and see who survived the night and who didn’t,” was one man’s grim dose of reality.
It was hard six months; it might be about to get harder.