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The Eve of Christmas: On Andriy Degeler’s Ten Months War

When I first spoke with tech journalist Andrii Degeler, February 24, 2022a Ukrainian-born Dutch resident had taken a night train from the west of the country to his hometown of Kharkiv to obtain the necessary documents to bring his mother to Holland.

While Andriy was on that train, Russian forces launched an attack on Ukraine before dawn. He managed to obtain the documents, eventually moving his mother further west from the Eastern Front. It was the scene of a violent attack.

He spent a month in the Ukrainian city of Khmelnytsky before being allowed to take his sick mother to Holland with his wife and son.he is his Conflict reporting experience From Ukraine on Dutchnews.nl in March.

Ten months into the war, and as Ukrainians celebrate their first Christmas since the Russian invasion, Andriy reflects on a memorable year.

Q: The last time we spoke was ten months ago when the war broke out. What has happened to you since then?

“It’s been a quick year. After returning from Ukraine in March, my whole family was with me, including my entire in-laws. I moved from Groningen to Amsterdam. I have a new job as head of media at The Next Web. I found a job, my wife also found a new job, we have a new child, a daughter!So in our family, everything has changed.But we are now together here in Holland is.

Q: Couldn’t you have imagined all-out war in Ukraine?

‘Absolutely not. We were constantly discussing what was going on while I was still there. After that, I will return to Holland in March. Then comes April and May, and summer is gone. It’s not what we could have imagined, and so far I’m not so optimistic. not anymore. ‘

Q: You loved your city. What’s going on in Kharkov now?

“There was a lot of damage in the city center and at least one residential area. It was badly damaged.No one knows what will happen to these buildings.Nobody knows how structurally sound they are.So when the war is over the city will change.Everything will be rebuilt. Kharkov will definitely look different after being done.

“The problem with Kharkov is that it is very close to the border with Russia, about 30 kilometers away. So while other cities far from the border can only be targeted with cruise missiles, Kharkov can only be targeted with artillery. Being able to target it makes it much easier for the Russian military to keep firing without expensive cruise missiles.

Kharkov suffered throughout the war and there were very serious battles in the area. Eventually, Ukrainian forces regained control, but the artillery fire did not go away. It’s inhabited, but it’s still not a safe place, and there’s artillery fire every week, if not every day.

Q: How does it feel to see your city destroyed from afar?

“I haven’t lived in Kharkov since 2007. I was born there and spent some 20 years of my life there. Getting ready to go home inside to see my family and show my kids the place.

“It’s not easy to see these things. I know I’ll never live there again. I knew it before the war. I also know that (buildings and entire neighborhoods) don’t exist the way they used to be, and it’s hard to contemplate.In any case, it just changes.

Q: Do you have friends who still live there?

“Many of our friends have moved from Kharkov to other parts of Ukraine or abroad. One of our best friends was killed in the trenches around Kharkov a few months ago.

And more people I’ve known over the years have also died in action and I’m still not quite coming to terms. I still don’t believe I’ll ever see these people again. For those of you who are left, please let your friends know if you’re okay or if you need anything.

Remains of Andriy’s mother’s house

Q: Via Telegram? You mentioned earlier that it is a popular information app in Ukraine.

“Unlike Holland, in Ukraine a lot is done on Facebook. There are a lot of people who aren’t talking, government officials are also very active on Facebook, and people my age [37] Younger generations are also actively involved. That’s how I get most of my information.

Q: Do you want to volunteer or do you want to fight?

‘No. If so, I would have done it when I was still in Ukraine. My obligation at this point is to the family I need and support.

Q: And when you see images of your home as a war zone?

‘That is awesome. It’s something we never imagined we’d see in our lifetime.

Q: Do you agree with the accusations that Russia is weaponizing the weather?

‘exactly. I think this was the whole idea from the beginning. They are trying to make the city uninhabitable by driving people out. I have to say it is absolutely not working at the moment.

The answer is that many emphasize staying in Ukraine and using whatever means possible to turn on the heating, turn on the lights, turn on the internet and actually continue to work. Many people are still working in between power outages. So I think the spirit is pretty high.

“Normally, if people have electricity, they will work from home. There’s a whole network of special points where people can go to different places (schools, offices, etc.) to warm up, get electricity, charge their devices, sit for a bit It is to provide basic services to people.

Q: How long can people’s resolve last?

“This is the first all-out war for Ukraine in a long time, but it is not the first time that Ukraine has been attacked from the North. And winter will end again, and when winter ends, people will be more tolerant of this situation and more determined to move forward.

Q: What grieves you most about this situation?

“It probably has something to do with the fact that I am a young father. And considering how difficult it is for parents to keep going.

Q: A slightly bittersweet holiday season? On the one hand, there is a new child and a new life in Amsterdam. But the war is still raging in Ukraine ….

‘That’s strange. Life goes on here, and when I get home, I have young and older children who I love very much. But at the same time, I can’t help but think about what’s going on in the country where I was born and raised.

Q: Will your mother return to Ukraine?

“No, I don’t think so. , the roof of her house burned down, so she no longer has a home and most of our relatives are not there.

It doesn’t matter if she comes back. We had this conversation with her and she agrees, it’s sad for her. It’s where she spent most of her life and where her parents and my father are buried.but she’s not getting younger [62] Or healthier, she really needs support and we can only provide it if she’s next to us.

Q: How long do you think this war will last?

“Unpredictable! At first we all thought there would be no war at all! Hopefully it won’t last longer than next winter. My big hope is that it will be over by then.

Q: What do you think future Ukraine will look like?

“I think society is actually much healthier. I don’t know what will happen after the war is over. You can see that it pulls out, people are doing everything to help the next person, it was before the war, but it’s more pronounced now, it helps development after the war is over.

“Ukraine is already a European country and the population is very pro-European, but we expect it to be even faster than we thought two years ago. I am sure it will be a country, but also by its senses and the functioning of society and what people expect from authorities, society and the world.”

Q: What do you expect from your children?

“I hope they don’t have to live in a country at war.”

Q: Ten months ago you said: what do you think now

“Now I really hope that we not only survive this, but win.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/12/the-night-before-christmas-andrii-degeler-on-10-months-of-war/ The Eve of Christmas: On Andriy Degeler’s Ten Months War

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