Conflicts & War

Ukrainians celebrate start of Easter with thoughts at frontline

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Apr 9 (EFE).- As Ukrainians kick off Orthodox Easter week with Palm Sunday, their thoughts and efforts are focused on at supporting their relatives, friends and other thousands of soldiers on the frontline.

In Lviv, festively clad families flocked to the city’s many churches to attend masses and have their willow bouquets cropped with holy water.

In Ukraine, willow symbolizes the palm branches used to greet Jesus Christ on his arrival to Jerusalem. It is one of the earliest plants to bloom after winter.

Sprouting willow bouquets also signal that the Ukrainian counter-offensive many have predicted is approaching. Military analysts, as well as minister of defense Oleksiy Reznikov, say it is likely to begin within the next two months.

Hopes for a quick liberation of the occupied territories, which, together with Crimea, account for some 18% of the country’s territory, are mixed with uncertainty around the durability of support from its foreign partners.

“Every day I see burial ceremonies with the bodies of killed soldiers pass by”, says Maria Dzvin, an employee at one of the city’s many universities, Lviv veterinary medicine university. “How could the world be so blind to what Russia was doing?”

Maria, whose family was deported from their home by the Moscow-led Soviet regime after it occupied Lviv in 1939, reveals that she felt already in 2013, when the protests against the pro-Russian president Victor Yanukovych were gaining force, that Russia would eventually attack.

She still finds it hard to believe that such a thing could happen “in the 21st century”.

Despite everything, Maria believes in Ukraine’s eventual victory, just like some 93% of Ukrainians, according to the latest poll by Razumkov Centre, and contributes in any way she can.

A richly decorated willow bouquet lies on her table which Maria bought at a fair where students are raising funds in support of the Ukrainian army.

“It was the students’ initiative”, Marta Kunytska, professor of finance, tells Efe. “They want to support our soldiers, so that they know that we are together with them”.

The funds collected from selling 150 of the bouquets, some 500 euros, were handed over to “Ukrainian Drive Power” volunteer foundation, which buys pickup trucks abroad, delivers them to the frontline and repairs those that get damaged by shelling.

“It is thanks to initiatives like these that we can continue supporting our soldiers”, Sergiy Gulyk, its co-founder, tells the students as he hands them a flag signed by Ukrainian troops.

Pickup trucks are badly needed by soldiers on the frontline to move quickly between positions, deliver ammunition and evacuate the wounded.

“It is also important for the soldiers to feel the attention from those who they help protect”, Gulyk underlined.

These soldiers who are fighting to repel Russian attacks along the frontline in the Donbas, need all the support they can get while they hold on until Ukraine receives heavy weaponry from its allies and prepares tens of thousands of soldiers to liberate Russian-occupied territories.

“I hope that next year’s fair is going to be dedicated to another cause, with the war soon over”, says Kunytska. EFE


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