SCHOOLBOY Lev Morilyi gripped his toy AK-47 on a destroyed Russian tank yesterday as he declared: “We will defeat Putin.”
The six-year-old and his parents were among thousands who flocked to Ukraine’s new tourist attraction — a column of wrecked enemy military vehicles.
A column of wrecked Russian tanks has become a tourist attraction in the Ukrainian capital KyivCredit: Avalon.red
Schoolboy Lev Morilyi gripped his toy AK-47 on a destroyed Russian tank yesterday as he declared: ‘We will defeat Putin’Credit: Chris Eades
One of the capital’s main streets near Independence Square has been blocked off to display 70 tanks, missile systems and self-propelled howitzers which were taken out in the first six months of the war.
Lev’s dad Roman, 38, added: “He hasn’t played with his toy gun for a long time but when we said we were coming here, he went to get it.
“Like every Ukrainian, he is proud of what our army has achieved and wanted to bring his own weapon to show his support.
“It is truly inspiring to see these destroyed Russian vehicles.
“It shows we are winning the war and we will achieve the ultimate victory.”
The graveyard of Russian military might was unveiled on the capital’s Khreschatyk Street as the country prepares on Wednesday to celebrate its formation as an independent state in 1991, after the Soviet Union’s collapse.
The date also marks six months since Putin’s brutal invasion began.
The war has forced seven million people to flee the country, leaving more than 160,000 dead or injured and has cost the Ukrainian economy £500billion.
But the country remains as steadfast as ever in the face of Russian aggression.
Human resources boss Juriy Lysovets, 47, joined the crowds inspecting the wrecked vehicles and said: “Putin thought he would take Kyiv in three days.
“He expected to have his victory parade along this street.
“Instead, he has to suffer the embarrassment of this parade of defeat.”
Although the hostilities are mostly now entrenched in the east of Ukraine, the entire nation remains on a war footing.
Air raid sirens sound every couple of hours and an 11pm curfew remains in place.
Checkpoints guard major routes into towns and cities, anti-tank defences line roads and government buildings are protected by sandbags.
The western city of Lviv was the main hub for the millions of people fleeing their homes in the first few weeks of the war.
Many are now settled in other European countries, mostly in close neighbours such as Poland and Germany, but also the UK.
But some have yet to find permanent accommodation.
Putin thought he would take Kyiv in three days. He expected to have his victory parade along this street. Instead, he has to suffer the embarrassment of this parade of defeat.
Refugee camps have sprung up, including one tucked between Soviet-era apartment blocks which has been dubbed Mariopolis by its residents.
Around 300 people are crammed into 96 units the size and shape of shipping containers.
They spend their days trying to make the sparse accommodation more comfortable and dreaming of the day they can return home.
In Unit 25, mum-of-three Aliona, 36, is about to feed her hungry brood with a pan of potatoes she cooked in the camp’s communal area.
She spends her days struggling to look after the kids on her own in the tiny space. Her husband is a soldier. They fled their home in the Donetsk region.
Aliona, who also brought along family pet Betty, their ten-year-old cat, said: “It was terrifying. There was never a warning so the first we knew of an attack was when we heard the planes.
“Moments later, the bombs dropped. We also began to hear a lot of shooting and knew it was time to leave.
“This camp at least provides us with food and shelter, but I am worried about the winter. There is no heating in the rooms and the winter gets cold here.”
The camp, run by the local authority and a Catholic charity, was named Mariopolis in honour of Mariupol, the Black Sea city which was taken by Russia after a heroic defence from locals.
One refugee said: “It is to show that although one Mariupol fell, another has risen.”
Moments later, the bombs dropped. We also began to hear a lot of shooting and knew it was time to leave.
People across Ukraine are now settled in for the long term, although they remain confident of ultimate victory on the battlefield. As one patriot explained: “The army is our new religion, the volunteers our angels.”
National pride is at an all-time high with the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag everywhere — painted on lamp posts, kerbstones and buildings. The flag adorns homes, public buildings and dashboards. Even dog kennels have their own miniature flag poles with the national colours.
And the people are confident their armed forces can take back the land Russia seized in the east, where the brave resistance shows no sign of letting up.
There was a renewed drone assault on Russia’s Black Sea fleet HQ at Sevastopol on the occupied Crimean peninsula on Saturday, the day after a string of Russian munitions dumps were targeted. And the sanctions war also continues apace, with a Russian oligarch’s £65million superyacht being auctioned by the Gibraltar government tomorrow. It is the first luxury vessel to be sold off since the country’s mega rich were targeted.
But the biggest blow to tyrant Putin over the weekend was a symbolic one, as young women took selfies in front of his burnt-out tanks to share on Instagram.
Their message was clear — the country will never accept defeat.
Ukraine’s independence day also marks six months since Putin’s brutal invasion beganCredit: AP
‘WE JUST WANT IT TO END’
TWO youngsters play on rollerskates in a makeshift village made of shipping containers for displaced Ukrainians.
But while Varavara, six, and five-year-old Mariana seem to be enjoying the pre-fab housing estate, life is less care-free for grown-up refugees on the camp — dubbed Mariopolis by its residents.
Two youngsters play on rollerskates in a makeshift village made of shipping containers for displaced UkrainiansCredit: Chris Eades
Life is less care-free for grown-up refugees on the camp — dubbed Mariopolis by its residentsCredit: Chris Eades
Some 300 people who fled to Lviv are crammed into 96 units at the camp.
Varavara’s gran Galyna Burkun, 63, said: “We had to leave our home because the war was getting near. We have no idea how long we will have to stay.
“Varavara and the other children enjoy it here because they can play all the time and they have made lots of new friends.
“They are too young to fully understand, for them it is an adventure. The adults just want it to end.”
A UKRAINIAN refugee in the UK has said she worries about housing every day.
Tania Orlova, 44, came to Britain from Kyiv in April with eight-year-old son Danylo and her mum Liubov, 74, under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Tania Orlova, 44, came to Britain from Kyiv in April with eight-year-old son Danylo and her mum Liubov, 74, under the Homes for Ukraine schemeCredit: PA
They are being hosted by a family of three for up to ten months.
She has started looking for rentals but said her lack of credit history in the UK was a problem while properties in High Wycombe, Bucks, are “expensive”. Tania has a job working at a local charity and her son is settled in school.
Nearly one in four hosts do not want to continue beyond six months because of the cost of living crisis, figures show.
Tania said: “If I have to move to another place, I have to traumatise my child again.”
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