A deathly silence fills the city that did not sleep and whose center is shielded to preserve the so-called pearl of the Black Sea. The port of Odessa is experiencing its most tense moments while waiting for the worst: the arrival of Russian troops in this city located in the southwest of Ukraine.
Barricades surround the streets of the city center where only a few dozen people are seen strolling between the closed shops and only a few spaces are open. But what abounds are the military.
Andriy, of Ukrainian and Lebanese nationality, was a television presenter and is now a soldier waiting on one of the city’s avenues, the third largest in Ukraine.
“We are prepared and I am sure that if the Russians enter through here we have enough weapons and brains to fight against those stupid Russians,” he told Efe.
A week ago, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated that Russian forces are preparing to bomb Odessa, which he considered to be a “historical crime”.
Another scenario that the Ukrainian authorities are considering is that Russia seeks to isolate Odessa from the rest of Ukraine in the event that Russian forces advance from the territories they have been occupying in the Mykolaiv region, an area where the bombing has intensified. in the last days.
Faced with all these plans, many of the inhabitants of Odessa have chosen to leave the city and go to the nearest countries, such as Romania or Moldova, while others have wanted to stay.
Among them is Olga, a 65-year-old lady who walks around in a fur coat and winds her way through all the sandbags that are piled up like barricades in the city.
“Where am I going to be, in France?” smiles the lady, and adds that Odessa is her city and that no one will take her away from home.
“Of course the situation is bad, but it will pass. We will fight”, he points out to Efe.
WITH HIGH MORALE
Most of the soldiers who are stationed with their weapons to defend the city in case Russian troops enter are not older than 25 years.
One of the soldiers, who did not want to be identified and is only 21 years old, stands in front of the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, one of the most protected historic buildings in the city on the shores of the Black Sea with a facade decorated in the style Italian baroque.
He tells Efe that they are “ready” for any advance of the Russian troops and that they will fight no matter what happens to restore the lost shine to the city.
Just that brightness and melody that always resonated among the multitude of clubs in the city have now faded, but one of the owners of the Ibiza Club, Pavel Kutsenko, tells Efe that the club “will reopen soon”.
He is optimistic and says that they will stay in the city “until the end”, that is, “until victory” against the Russians because, moreover, his family and friends have not left Odessa.
“I hope this changes soon. Summer will come and the fun will return”, she asserts, although she confesses that she has “never” seen Odessa like this, with the “empty streets”.
However, although some have chosen to remain in the strategic city, they are still afraid and would not hesitate to flee if Russia occupies Odessa.
So say Daniel and Svitlana, 18-year-old students, who cross Deribasovskaya Avenue, named in honor of the city’s founder, Spanish Admiral José de Ribas, whose bust crowns the armored street.
“We like our country, we don’t want to leave”says Daniel, although Svitlana points out: “If Ukraine becomes Russia, we will leave.”
(with information from EFE)
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