Civilian Fighters: Stories from the Frontlines

Regular Ukrainians are putting up a fight as Russia escalates its attack on the country.

Help Ukraine Romania was founded by Julia Hrytsku-Andriesh, a 36-year-old mom of two. The organization operates out of a factory in the Romanian city of Siret.

It also carries medicines, bread, water, household goods, and other critical supplies across the frontier to Ukraine, as well as transporting individuals out of the worst-affected areas.

Life Has Changed

“My biggest concern two weeks ago would be a Coach bag I bought online wouldn’t come on time,” said Hrytsku-Andriesh, who holds a Doctorate in economics and works for a multi-national body in Ukraine during the day.

“Right now, I’m in charge of a humanitarian hub that supports Kyiv and Vinnytsia Oblast.”

“Our company might outperform any logistics firm on the planet. I am capable of resolving any issue. I could obtain 300 sleeping bags in Kyiv or Vinnytsia in five minutes if someone told me they needed them.”

The most difficult task, according to Hrytsku-Andriesh, is evacuating people from encircled and impacted cities such as Hostomel, Mariupol, as well as Kyiv. “At the start, those who could travel and had automobiles left.”

Mothers who were unable to drive, on the other hand, were left behind with their kids. There are older folks who didn’t would like to go or couldn’t go at first. They’re at a loss on what to do now. It’s a falsehood that there are humanitarian routes.

Hrytsku-Andriesh is a Romanian native who has lived in Ukraine her entire life.

“In Romania, I have a car and a house,” she explained. “However, running to Romania is the last thing on my mind right now.”

“It will not take place. I’m now assisting locally. In Ukraine, there is now a spirit of determination. No one is even considering giving up. We’re either going to win or we’re going to die.”

No Fear

“Yes, use my name,” Hrytsku-Andriesh answered when asked if Politico could print her identity.

“People will realize I am a normal human if you post it. I understand some people prefer not to have their names used. I have no fear of anything. Use my brand and spread the word over the world.”

Everybody is sheltering refugees from the east, south, and north in western Ukraine, in places like Chernivtsi, which is less than 40 miles from the Romanian frontier.

Igor, a 44-year-old retired teacher who now operates an IT firm, is Russian by birth, but spent his entire life in Ukraine. He stated he joined the rebellion because he felt compelled to act.

“Some people joined for religious reasons,” added Igor, who asked his real identity not be used, as he was afraid of retaliation.

“Some are patriots,” says the narrator. “Some are simply Ukrainian patriots, such as myself. Because I don’t have a trace of Ukrainian ancestry, I can’t be a nationalistic Ukrainian. I am a Ukrainian patriot.”