After four days of bombardment and shellings, leaders from Russia and Ukraine have reached an agreement to hold peace talks near Belarus on Monday.
Despite Sunday night’s wheat market liking the peace talks news, jumping 75¢, Ukrainian citizens continue to dig in and fight for the independence of their nation.
Russian soldiers continue to push towards Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and federal, state, and city officials as well as private citizens, take up arms to slow down the opposition.
Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons after his disappointment with the failure of his army to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
According to news reports, also the U.S. and the European Commission (EC), France Germany Italy, Italy, the UK and Canada announced that they would remove some Russian banks from SWIFT this weekend.
SWIFT (or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a secure messaging platform that allows for fast cross-border payments. This is the most important mechanism for international financial trading.
Iurii Mykhaylov, an economist from Ukraine and agricultural journalist, has been covering the conflict between Russia and his country since Successful Farming.
Journalists are not only able to tell stories; they also record history.
Mykhaylov, a Kyiv resident, discusses how he has been coping with one of the most devastating wars in Europe since World War II.
SF: How have you coped with this war from day 1?
Mykhaylov:I was 45 years old when I graduated from the Kyiv National Technical University. I served two years in Soviet Army as a lieutenant, since there was a military training program. Despite this, I was always a civilian and never imagined that I would find myself in the midst of the ferocious war.
My wife and me are 67 years apart. Both of us are retired so I have plenty of time. A colleague from Northern Ireland contacted me on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. We talked about the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. I stated that the odds of a Russian invasion of Ukraine were fifty-fifty. The next morning, the answer turned out to be “yes”.
SF:What was your reaction to the start of war on Thursday, February 24, 2022?
Mykhaylov:This was the most remarkable day of my entire life. I woke up at 5:05 am to hear the artillery fire and turned on the TV to see what was happening. An hour later, it was reported by Russia that Russia had invaded Ukraine without any warning. They also continued to assure that they have no intention of invading the country’s borders. It is a perverse and gloomy repeat of history. Adolph Hitler attacked the USSR at dawn 79 years back.
I counted seven loud shots that I thought were the sound of a bombardment.
My first reaction was shock. I couldn’t believe it. But loud volleys made me doubt it. I woke my wife up and told her the good news.
SF:How scared were you? What was your next thought after that frightening experience?
Mykhaylov:I listened to the advice of veterans who had been through the wars in Georgia and Chechnya and began to collect what is known as an “alarm bag”, or a backpack that holds the most important items. First, an ID, food for three days, water, spare socks and underwear, personal hygiene products, medicine, dressings and antibiotics, cash, bank cards, a knife and spare batteries, matches or lighters, and a charger for a cell phone are all required.
I then filled the bathtub with water just in case.
I knew that I didn’t intend to leave Kyiv at all and so I bought food for a week or two.
There were no outages in electricity, water, gas or sewerage.
I could see people carrying large bags full of food from the nearby grocery store through the window. I went to the grocery shop at 11:15 am and noticed a large line. It turned out that this wasn’t a queue to enter the store but for an ATM. People were withdrawing cash using their bank cards. A long line was also visible near the pharmacy.
There was no panic nor excitement. The public transport system worked as usual.
The shelves were full and there weren’t many people in the shop. I bought many loaves of bread, crackers and buckwheat, as well as rice, salt, vegetable oils, smoked meats, cheese, and several boxes with matches. I bought several band-aids in the store because there was a long queue at the pharmacy.
SF:What was your plan to take shelter from an attack
Mykhaylov: I was able to find a map of the closest bomb shelters on the Internet. It turned out most of them are basements where water pipes and sewerage are located.
Guides online warn that if a direct missile hits the house, it can collapse like a house full of cards. Therefore, basements should not be allowed as it will be difficult or impossible to escape from the rubble.
The cellars will be safe in the event of artillery bombardment.
A nearby pedestrian underpass is another option that I and my wife could use to wait out an attack. I also decided that in case of a bombing threat, my wife would be able to hide in an underpass because of the possible influx people. My wife and me would then go to a nearby forest where the trees could provide protection against missiles hitting nearby tall buildings. The trees would be able to protect against any fragments from a bomb or missile that were exploded nearby.
Google maps showed congestion in Kiev, particularly at the exits.
SF:Have you ever thought about evacuating?
Mykhaylov:People from the neighbouring apartment reported at 3:00 p.m. on Day 1 that they were driving to Western Ukraine in a car to evacuate. I was disappointed as martial law was immediately implemented in Ukraine. It prohibits men between the ages of 18 and 60 from traveling abroad. They were not going to leave Ukraine, but the neighbor is 55 years old and his son 35 (and he’s an athlete), so this surprise surprised me.
SF:How can you sleep knowing that there is a war in the city?
Mykhaylov: Friday, February 25, 2022. That night, I woke at 2:00 AM to hear the loud sounds of artillery fire and couldn’t sleep. I started to surf the Internet for the most recent news. My e mail box began to receive letters from many foreign colleagues, including Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands. Small shops, cafes, restaurants, and other small businesses were closed. The farmers markets were also closed. Except for the subway, public transport continued to work as usual. All underground subway stations were made into bomb shelters. A metro line runs 10 minutes from my home, but it is on the left bank of Dnieper and cannot be used as a bomb shelter.
Throughout the day, the cannonade was heard. 7 trains were formed to evacuate children, women with kids, and elderly people to Western Ukraine. Even if my wife or I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, public transport was not an option.
SF: According to news reports, Russia was planning to crank up the heat for the weekend. What did you think about this threat?
Mykhaylov:Saturday, February 26th, I woke from artillery firing at 4 AM. The Kyiv authorities announced a curfew starting at 5:00 pm on Saturday and ending at 8:00 am Monday. Without a permit, it is prohibited to leave the house or move around the city in a car. The exception is the permission for you to go to the bomb shelter during bombardment or other shelling.
Finally, it was explained that if shots sound without a siren, then this indicates that our artillery has been firing. This helped me to relax a bit. Sunday, February 27, I woke up to the sound of cannonade at 5:00 AM. Like the previous days, there were no fires or explosions visible from my window. I spent the entire day at home, reading the news. Many foreign colleagues reached out again for comment.
SF: Your countryman, military and allies had stopped Russians’ onslaught as of Sunday. How proud are your countrymen?
Mykhaylov:Although it may seem paradoxical, Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine has made it possible to unite Ukraine. There were many speculations before this aggression about how divided Ukraine was between the so-called Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking population. Regardless of their language, 100 percent of citizens now consider themselves Ukrainians. It is this self-identification that has led to a love for the land and a desire for its defense until the end. I am one of them.
SF:China depends on corn from Ukraine. Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey all rely on Ukraine’s wheat. What are you thoughts on the reopening of Ukraine’s ports? What are your thoughts on how ports have been reopened in the past during wartime?
Mykhaylov:Historically, no commodities were shipped to or from ports during wartime. Ports were reopened depending on the extent of damage they sustained during wartime. Some Ukrainian trading companies have terminals at ports. They warned that they would destroy their port facilities in the event of occupation.
Importers and exporters have the option of shipping through Romania if Russia has not occupied Odessa Oblast. Although it may take some time and be slow, this is possible. Some commodities and goods were also imported/exported to Europe via its western border.
SF:Any upcoming weather conditions in Ukraine will have an impact on the war. What is the forecast for your region? More snow, colder temperatures, etc.?
Mykhaylov:The weather forecast for Thursday, March 3rd shows freezing drizzles on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 1, 2 and 2). Showers are expected on Thursday (March 3,). This could affect the level of hostile activity, considering that the soil in the South and Central parts of Ukraine are rich in blacksoil. Temperatures in Ukraine are expected to be between 3-8 Celsius and 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Source: Successful Farming