War Reminder Tour: In Kharkiv, Edge of the Free World

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Lviv Now’s editor Joe Lindsley took on a cross-country journey through Ukraine to gather and share stories of Ukrainian life in war. Here are the impressions from Kharkiv, the city to which he went right before the start of Ukraine’s lightning counteroffensive in the region, and where now Russians shell heavily on the objects of critical infrastructure.
photos by Joe Lindsley and Anton Hutyriak

photos by Joe Lindsley and Anton Hutyriak

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Amid the great news of Ukraine’s counteroffensive to liberate much of Kharkiv oblast, I think back to my trip last week to Kharkiv city, where in seeming retaliation, the Russians have now cut off much of the power supply. 

Before the war, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was creative, entrepreneurial, dynamic–full of energy, amazing food, brilliant start-ups, beautiful parks. Now, much of it is in rubble, a shell. 

I remember in particular a woman walking through the main square. As she looked warily around her, to the sky, to the bombed-out buildings, her eyes struck me: bewilderment. 

Read also: Native faces of unbreakable Kharkiv. Personal war stories from the outpost city

To walk these streets, you have often to step over rubble. I tried to go to the Old Hem bar, which I had remembered fondly. It’s gone, totally destroyed. And the next morning, two missiles shook the city centre and the souls of all within: those missiles hit just across from the Old Hem.

On September 7, our team was in the terrifying district of Saltivka, northern Kharkiv city, just miles from Russia and at the very dangerous edge of the free world. 

My friend Goodie, a British warrior also in the same region, wrote this today: 

«Getting shot at by the Russians really isn’t that scary at all... It’s the constant artillery and the lack of knowing where and when the bombs will land that scares me.... People will always talk shit and try to act tough when it comes to warfare, but artillery is scary and there is absolutely no denying that.»

By Joe Lindsley

Photo: Ukrainian Freedom News

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.


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