We get an update from a Ukrainian volunteer on how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has besieged the strategic southern city of Mykolaiv, where Russian troops have targeted civilian areas for shelling. Many Ukrainians are asking European nations and the U.S. to establish a no-fly zone. We speak to Igor Yudenkov in Mykolaiv, a former IT professional who is now helping other residents find shelter, feeding pets left behind and defending the city. Yudenkov has been separated from his wife and daughter, who are currently in Russian-occupied territory.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we go now to the besieged city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. The sounds of Russian bombs exploding near the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. This is the city’s mayor, Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Syenkevych, speaking Tuesday following intense Russian rocket attacks.
MAYOR OLEKSANDR SYENKEVYCH: Yesterday they attacked the city with cluster rockets. You know that they are forbidden. So, 64 buildings were attacked. I mean civil buildings, where people live. They damaged all those buildings, and, let’s say, about 40 rockets were unexploded. So, I think they launched for about more than 100 rockets to the city.
AMY GOODMAN: Many Ukrainian refugees have been fleeing the Mykolaiv region to escape the fighting. This is one woman from the area. Her name is Irina Mihalenka, who was able to reach Romania.
IRINA MIHALENKA: [translated] We have a war, but we are not from Odessa. We came to Odessa from Mykolaiv region because there were very, very intense events there. We were hiding with my family in the basement, and Russian forces bombed so hard that sand was falling from the ceiling. And we were very scared, so we evacuated to the other side of the city. Also, when we were walking, the bridge was blown up. And when we crossed over the wreckage of the bridge because there was no other way out, there were corpses of Russian soldiers lying there, and they were turned inside out.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Igor Yudenkov of Mykolaiv. Prior to the invasion, he was working as a project manager at an IT company in Kherson, which is now under Russian control.
Igor, thank you so much for being willing to come on to Democracy Now! So, you’ve got Russian-occupied Kherson now and your own city under siege. The video we played was from you. Describe what’s happening right now.
IGOR YUDENKOV: Hello, everyone who hear me. Right now I am in Mykolaiv. On the border of our city, there is Russian troops. Even right now when I am listening to you and right now when I am speaking with you, there is artillery and missile attack. Also there was an air raid signal, but I stay with you to explain and to explain you what is happening today.
AMY GOODMAN: Igor —
IGOR YUDENKOV: Every day —
AMY GOODMAN: — you are incredibly brave, and I just want to say thank you for speaking to us, but if there is any siren you hear and you feel you should go, you should go. So, tell us what’s happening every day.
IGOR YUDENKOV: Every day my day is starting that I check all my friends, all my relatives and all my colleagues from work, that everybody is alive. Also the situation for me is hard, because my family right now is also under occupied territory in Mykolaiv region. The situation is bad, because the problems begin with the food and water. But every day I have — no, we have telephone talks, and I try to support them, but I have no tools how to help them because they are full of Russians —
AMY GOODMAN: We just lost Igor for a minute. We’re hoping that we’ll be able get him back.
IGOR YUDENKOV: I am with you. I am with you.
AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Igor. You are with us, yes. And again, your wife and your daughter are separated from you at this point, is that right?
IGOR YUDENKOV: Yes. Yes, because before, when it started, I think that it will be more safety for them to stay in the countryside, not in the city, because, for me, I was sure that they will bomb and they will hit all our cities, because it’s their main aim to make fear for all Ukrainian nation.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you have been there helping other residents. Describe what you’re doing and even the footage that you sent us, that we just played, of the Russian attacks.
IGOR YUDENKOV: How I right now helping, I am trying to work like a half part remote on my usual work. But also I try to help my own city in different ways. Many of our citizens left our city, and many pets and, like, domestic animals stay without — stay alone. I also try to feed them when I have time and when I can find some food for them. Also I help our, like, local defense with making sand — no, box sands, just to defend some streets or so on.
AMY GOODMAN: We were just communicating with some people who are helping families leave Mykolaiv. They leave, they then come back. How hard is it to come and go from Mykolaiv? And what about your access to food, to water, to electricity? Are people remaining in basements? I mean, in Mariupol, which is very near you, people are trapped. They cannot leave.
IGOR YUDENKOV: OK. In Mykolaiv, the situation is better because we have a free bridge through the river, which connects us with the road to Odessa. It’s like it’s the bridge of life, because through this bridge, food can come to our city. But it’s about Mykolaiv. But about Kherson, the situation is more harder because most of the shops are occupied by Russian troops. They just — how you say? — take from shops what they want. And there is no access for civilians to the shops, and also they fear because the Russian troops are armed with weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: What message do you want people in the rest of the world to hear as you speak from the besieged city of Mykolaiv?
IGOR YUDENKOV: For whole world, for whole democracy world, right now here in Ukraine, we stop the invasion of Russian, Putin troops. They won’t attack only Ukraine; they want to attack whole democracy, democracy of our life, the freedom. Because Ukraine is a free country. We have democracy election. We can have meetings. We can vote. But they didn’t like it. They want to fight against freedom. From my point of view, I think that whole world need to help us here to stop their invasion. Right now we are really — we have needs in air, body armor, helmets and equipment. It is what is really — we don’t have it in — there is some problems with this, and not of all our forces are equipment — has such equipment.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Igor, I want to thank you for being with us. We are going to check back with you in the coming days. Igor Yudenkov lives in Mykolaiv. He is volunteering there, where he’s been helping other residents, also those who left their pets there, trying to care for them, get them some kind of sustenance. He’s been separated from his wife and his daughter, who are currently in Russian-occupied territory in southern Ukraine. Before the Russian invasion, he was an IT professional.
Next up, we’re going to speak with the retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He says the United States cannot absolve itself of responsibility for the catastrophe in Ukraine. Stay with us.