And where is Gondor?

26 February

On February 24 I woke up in the night suddenly. I felt some strange pressure in my heart. I never felt like that in my life. It was a peaceful and quiet night in London, only some fox barked in the distance. I checked the time on my phone. Five in the morning. Instinctively I opened Facebook and saw awful news. “Russia launches rockets on Ukraine”. The whole country was on fire. I’ve read it many times but couldn’t grasp any sense of it. At that time in the countryside not far from Kyiv my mom and dad woke up as well. But because of explosions. They understood what is going on instantly despite the fact they never heard the sounds of bombs before. They are peaceful ordinary people. The rocket exploded within 15 miles from their place. They put on their clothes in complete darkness and went down the stairs to calm their five cats and the dog. Animals were petrified. My parents bought water and other basic supplies, as well as put the tape on the windows to protect from breaking glass. It was the beginning of the very long and hard day.
Today is Friday. I brought my daughter to school while my best friends in Kyiv ran to the shelters with kids and animals. Moms gathered around me kindly asking me how I feel and how they can help. And for the first time in my life I literally couldn’t say a single word. How would I explain this suffering? How to fit that extremely long day into one small-talk? The day that can be put in scripts for dozens of movies starring famous actors or become bestselling books. Where shall I begin? Maybe with Snake Island, the tiny rocky plot of land in the Black sea, guarded by 13 border patrol. A rocky plateau with nowhere to hide and just a couple of buildings and two Russian warships in plain sight. - This is a Russian warship. Lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed. Otherwise, we will strike you! “Russian warship, go fuck to Hell!” were the last words of our warriors, who will be honored as national heroes. Or shall I tell them about Sunflower Lady in Henichesk, the small southern city. On Thursday she approached Russian armed soldiers bravely and demanded to tell what they were doing on her soil. She condemned these occupants and suggested putting sunflower seeds in their pockets, so when they die it will grow into a beautiful sunflower. Or maybe it should be the story about Hostomel, the city not far from Kyiv, our capital, that Russians tried to occupy the whole day (their target is the military airport). Just imagine - Russians tried to occupy Hostomel the whole day. They sent 34 military helicopters with their best from the best, but till the late night Ukrainian warriors destroyed all of them. As it is said in our popular song “The lullaby for the enemy”: “You wanted this soil, so mix with it now. You will be my soil. Sleep. Sleep.’
On Thursday German MP Frau Strack-Zimmerman cynically remarked that it was only a couple of hours for Kyiv to be occupied. For now the losses of the Russian army are more than 2800 soldiers, about 80 tanks, 516 armored vehicles, 7 helikopters, 10 aircraft and Kyiv is still fighting. Sorry, Frau Strack-Zimmerman, Ukrainians disappointed you. So many heroic dramas happened: Ukrainian soldier who sacrificed his life to blow up the bridge to stop Russian tanks. Ordinary Ukrainian who tried to stop Russian tanks with his bare hands. Or the old man who blocked the armored vehicles with his car.
Hollywood, you don’t need ancient legends anymore, the first day of war in Ukraine provided you with plenty of stories for the new Oscar-winning movie to watch and cry. Or maybe I will tell you about Russian diversants whose tank ran over the civil car with the man inside on the almost empty street in Kyiv? They were caught by ordinary boys. Shoulder to shoulder Ukrainian civilians and Army fight against Russian occupants. Right now as I write it, moms in Ukrainian cities share the recipe of the Molotov cocktail on social media and discuss where to get more gasoline. Because there should be no problems with bottles as recycling station “Ukraine without the trash” (what a nice name) announced that they will give back glass bottles of all sizes. People coming out from shelters to resist and fight back. I see my friends, artists, singers, cooks and my college’s journalists dressed up in uniforms the whole day. There are queues in our recruiting centers and hospitals to donate blood for the Army. “Till what time the store will be open?”, asked my friend in the shop. “Until the building stands. We are going to be open until the very last moment, even if there will be bullets flying in the air”, - answered the girl.

Literally, all Ukrainians fight for their Freedom and Independence. Russians. Russians are your fairy tale. Smoke and mirrors, bright feathers and a lot of makeup. They enchanted you with the ballet, Dostoevsky and all this “mysterious soul” stuff, but in fact it is only the shiny skin of the vampire. The skin hides that ugly, stinky, hungry monster who longs for more blood.

We, Ukrainians, know it very well. They are barbarians who have no dignity and fight with no rules. That’s why their targets are civil buildings, hospitals, kindergartens and orphanages. And Chernobyl. It is not only Ukraine that they want, but the whole world as their hostage. All they do - invade your country and destroy you. Russians call it the “brother’s love”. In their movies Russian soldiers are very brave. The reality shows they are just cowards though.

Yesterday, during the first day of the massive invasion the whole brigade surrendered to the Ukrainian army without a single shot fired. Their chief officer looked very scared. Ukrainian Army. My friends are joking that we believe in our army stronger than the Pope of Rome believes in God.

People have donated more than £500k in just a single day alone to our popular fundraising “Save life”. It was our anti-stress exercise. The Ukrainian Army feels the support and fights like lions. Our now legendary top gun piloting dated MIG-29 aircraft wreaked havoc claiming 6 enemy aircrafts. He already got The Ghost of Kyiv nickname. I listened to Ukrainian warriors and how they speak - they sound like experienced and professional warriors. Then I listen to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, in a hope, but who would make an impression of a perplexed and lost person stuttering all the time and struggling to give clear answers instead.
Yesterday our army stopped the enemy troops in all directions and shot a “Welcome to hell” video, where they promised to fight for Ukraine on the land, on the water and in the air. One of my favorite historic characters, Winston Churchill, told the same to British people before the Blitz. For a long time Britain stood alone in front of Hitler. As we do now. Other countries observe our Battle for Ukraine from a safe distance. Though there is no safe distance in Europe anymore.

Mom, tomorrow when we will wake up, are you going to cry again?, - asked my little daughter. - No, sweetheart, tomorrow I’m going to follow messages from Ukrainian warriors - nothing cheers up better. We urgently need your help when the endless row of the gray military troops of “brothers” invades our country. Europe, USA, The World, The Civilisation, we need your help! We fight for Freedom, Democracy and Independence you’ve declared your primary and most precious value. It is time to prove it is not only beautiful meaningless words. Otherwise, what’s the sense in reading to your child “The Lord of the Ring’’ where people, elves, dwarves and hobbits unite to fight against Mordor whilst we let orcs and goblins destroy someone’s green and wonderful Shire in real life? We lit up our warning beacons! Where are you, Gondor?

Antonina Maliei