At the gates of Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers watch for the arrival of the Russians

In an icy wind, five Ukrainian soldiers, equipped with a Javelin anti-tank missile, stand guard at Velyka Dymerka, on the last roadblock separating the northeastern edge of Kyiv from Russian armored vehicles.

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Suddenly, a shower of Grad missiles from the horizon fell a few hundred meters from the shivering soldiers, raising a huge cloud of dust.

A few meters away, Vasyl Popov sticks his head out through the half-open door of a convenience store. He sighs at the prospect of war coming to his city.


“The Russians were there last night, they were shooting,” said the 38-year-old man, his eyes watering from the cold.

“I barely sleep,” he breathes. “As soon as there is the slightest noise, we rush to the window to see what it is, if someone is about to enter.”

Two weeks after the start of the invasion in Ukraine, the Russians arrive at the gates of Kyiv.

On the northwest flank of the capital, fierce bombardments have for more than a week destroyed entire parts of certain localities.

Tens of thousands of people braved near-permanent artillery fire to flee working-class towns like Boutcha and Irpin and reach the calmer Ukrainian capital.

Until recently, the northeast suburbs of Kyiv were relatively spared.

Velyka Dymerka is located about five kilometers from Kyiv. Not far away there is a highway that the Russians are trying to take to enter the capital.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces pushed back a column of Russian armored vehicles there, which they partially destroyed. But the adversaries did not retreat very far.

Placed under a tree near the dam, the American anti-tank missile Javelin is the ultimate weapon of the Ukrainian soldiers to face the enemy troops.

The United States and its NATO allies have increased their arms deliveries to Ukraine to help them repel the Russian offensive.

But this support does not convince the inhabitants.

“If NATO is such a powerful organization, why doesn’t it close the airspace above Ukraine?” exasperated Grigoriy Kushka.

“Why can’t we sleep at night? Why my family, my granddaughter, the children, why are we running from cellar to cellar?” asks this pensioner, not far from a group of soldiers warming their hands near a fire.

The Atlantic Alliance refuses to send fighter jets, fearing that this will provoke a larger war between Russia and Western countries.

“There was Grad missile fire and shelling here last night,” said Serguiy, a soldier at the Velyka Dymerka checkpoint.

“We are trying to evacuate the grandmothers. But they don’t want to come out,” he said.

Those who have not fled spend most of their time behind simple fences surrounding their wooden houses.


“I’m not afraid of dying,” says Valentyna Rut, a pensioner, while feeding her chickens. “I’m afraid for my children and my grandchildren, that’s all,” continues this 75-year-old lady.

“If they enter Kyiv, what are they going to do? How are they going to manage to stay in power?” asks Roman Taranenko, a 47-year-old technician.

“People will shoot at them from every house, burn their vehicles,” he predicts. “They will never stay in power, even with assault rifles.”

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