Across the river, in the offices of an old building from the golden age of the Soviet Union, some women frantically move between the rooms. In one of these the door opens and closes hundreds of times a day and is always manned: here we think about supplies, numbers, contacts and humanitarian arrivals from all over the world. And so in the improvised inventories, among the diapers and tomato cans, there are also badges and grades of fabric: there are thousands of them on an office shelf tied to bunches with a spring, but more and more bulletproof vests, helmets are sought military, K-rations and medical kits for soldiers. The last outpost that guarantees support and supplies for the defense of the East is located in Dnipro: the city that on the one hand reaches out to refugees and on the other arms the arm of resistance.
Since the first days of the war, up to five hundred civilians arrived here a day, asking for a Kalashnikov to go to the front: “We sent them to the military commissariat because yes, this is the Coordination Center for Territorial Defense Volunteers, but they had to enlist do it there.
We collect the things you need and then take them to the front, “explains Katerina Leonova, one of the leaders. Then the fibrillation of the southern territories began and more and more often those vans returned to the base loaded with people on the run.
Dnipro, where the largest Jewish community in Ukraine is concentrated but also the highest crime rate in the country, has always acted brazenly in the assault of Russian militias, which have so far struck here but without sinking. Four days ago a dozen missiles arrived in the area and destroyed the airport and a few weeks earlier the railway station had been hit in nearby Pavlohrad. The gray city cut in half by the river, with its old and often run-down buildings, however, seems nonchalant, despite the sandbags and Friesian horses everywhere. “The only thing we must be careful of is the bombing of the bridge – many say – so that we do not remain isolated in the South or North. Because we can still be decisive”.
Meanwhile, what makes the difference here is the tenacity of women, who support the men at the front. “This is not new – explains Leonova – since 2014 women have begun to enlist and represent about 10% of the territorial defense, many others go to the front as nurses and doctors, make camouflage nets, cook large quantities of food, manage distribution medicine and take care of the registers. And there is a difference with the soldiers of the army, who instead have the same roles as men: they are snipers, they fight behind mortars or in infantry “.
A couple of kilometers away, however, Tatiana Yanushkevich, a Belarusian and Polish lawyer, proudly displays the newly painted refugee children’s room, which she will set up with drawings on the walls and rubber mats. “So far we have registered one hundred thousand people arriving from all over the Donestk region here in Dnipro. In the former dormitory of the Russian workers who built the metro station in the city, there are now 323 refugees, including 70 children: they populate the five floors of the ‘building, arranged in the rooms crossed by dark and suffocating corridors. The worst news always comes from Mariupol, where, the new guests say, “the only way to get out of that nightmare is to go to Crimea or Russia, where some tell us of having been forced to stand naked in front of the soldiers. In that city there is no food and many are forced to drink snow water. The first to die are the youngest, from hunger. “But for them now Dnipro is a cradle, welcoming children like a