reportLocated at a strategic crossroads to Lviv in the west, the city is mobilized. Sandbags are piled up in front of the official building, and a heavy steel cross with sandbags welded to the end is installed in the sandbags.
“I never imagined I would see my city like this. », Vlad Puchych shouts as he observes the barricades built on the streets of Zhytomyr. “If the Russians attack us, we have to be prepared. Elected officials of this former municipality say. We knew our neighbors were crazy, but I admit I didn’t think they were so crazy. »» The Russian attack, launched by Vladimir Putin at dawn on February 24, now involves the north, east and south of Ukraine.
With more than 260,000 inhabitants, the city is now dominated by an armed vigilance atmosphere. Located 130km west of the capital Kyiv, it is surrounded by Russian troops. It is a strategic crossroads connected to other cities in the country by rail and road, especially Lviv, all west and a major destination for thousands of people. Of refugees fleeing the war. Residents organize their resistance.
On Saturday, February 26th and Sunday, February 27th, the city of Zhytomyr was crowded. Thousands of people gathered in the central square to build barricades and protect official buildings. Several tractors circulate in the midst of a typical frenzy. Men pick up shovels, put sand in hard white bags, and others carry them away and stack them facing the building or street to defend.
In this unprecedented mobilization, a group of friends share cigarettes during breaks. The flag on the front of the Zhytomyr Oblast is “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes”. A last-minute welded heavy steel cross was installed on the street.
Fear of “jamming operatives”
Approximately 20 women are closing barricade sandbags with rubber bands and strings in front of the city hall on the corner of a pedestrian road where the majority of businesses close their doors. Along with them, the group will provide volunteers with a glass of water. Organizers can recognize the yellow tape around their arms, go through the hustle and bustle, give instructions, regulate traffic, and answer questions. Two young people observe the crowd. “We are waiting for our friends to see what we can do to help”, Alexei, 21, explains that she is determined to protect the city. His classmate Ivan “Russians don’t care if you are a civilian or a soldier. All Ukrainians are preparing for war.”
At the entrance to the city, there is a checkpoint made of concrete blocks and sandbags, in the middle of which is the Ukrainian flag, which allows you to filter the doorway. Many armed men wear military and civilian uniforms and take turns controlling drivers day and night. Ukrainian authorities “Interfering operative” The Russians have infiltrated the cities of the country. Armed civilians of the “territorial defense”, a branch of the Ukrainian army composed of volunteers, are responsible for fighting the existence of these Russian diversion groups. Many images of local military uniformed intruders arrested by Ukrainian authorities circulate on social networks.
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