How is it in Ukraine right now

Kyiv, Ukraine –

Ukrainians have a nickname for the Iranian-made drones that Russia is now firing at their towns and cities: flying mopeds.

They sound like airborne motorcycles as they fall from the sky, the new weapon of choice, or desperation, for the restless Russian military. A lot of noise; not much firepower and relatively easy to take down.

Six of them hit the town of Bila Tserkva, not far from Kyiv, in one night. “There was a roar and then a boom,” as an 80-year-old man described it, surviving intact except for the terror of it all.

Iran has of course blatantly and ridiculously denied its role as supplier, which only adds to its reputation for deception and mistrust.

The drone’s official name is Shahed-136, otherwise described as a « trailing swarm munition ». The version now invading Ukraine has been repainted in Russian colors and rechristened with a Russian name, the Geran-2.

Judging by the noise, it sounds like a V-1 or « doodlebug » buzz bomb used by the Nazis to terrorize London towards the end of WWII. Today we call them cruise missiles, same technology, but faster, more accurate and deadlier than a simple doodlebug.

Ukraine claims it has shot down 60% of all suicide drones fired at it. Yet it is a weapon of fear that complicates civilian life with another level of danger.

Looking at the big picture, the UK MoD says the Shahed is unlikely to be the kind of « deep strike » tool Russia had been hoping for. Disconcerting perhaps, but not a game changer.

Either way, as deadly drones and missiles targeted civilians this week, Ukrainians lurked in the city’s subway singing the country’s national anthem. That said: “The glory of Ukraine has not yet perished, nor its freedom.

It was a stark and chilling replay of what the city went through during the early days of the invasion. Until that time, people had almost returned to their old habits and comfortable way of life. Perhaps lulled into a false sense of normalcy.

The streets around Independence Square were teeming just a day before the Russians landed with their massive aerial revenge attack. If the goal was submission; the result was a raised middle finger.

Within hours, the streets were cleared of bomb debris and shops reopened, but with a renewed sense of mistrust.

Even the prospect of a Russian nuclear attack had a liberating and stimulating effect. Fifteen thousand people have signed up to join a mass orgy atop a famous hill in Kyiv, should Vladimir Putin decide to drop the bomb.

It became a cry of defiance and bravado, more than a date with fate.

“It’s the opposite of despair,” as one woman told Radio Free Europe. « Even in the worst-case scenario, people are looking for something good. »


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