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Opinionista

Ukraine’s in for a long, cruel winter as Russia continues with destruction of vital infrastructure

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Liubov Abravitova is the Ambassador of Ukraine to South Africa.

If you visit any Ukrainian city now, you’ll hear the humming of generators from afar. Our cities now function on individual generators in between power blackouts. People are building individual wells and installing pumps to get water if Russian terrorists further damage our energy and water supply.

It’s rather challenging being Ukrainian during the winter of 2022. But it’s an honour to take on this challenge. As the freezing winter temperatures set in, the unbreakable people of Ukraine – soldiers and civilians, each at their place – are preparing for a very difficult, but probably the most important winter of their lives.

Russian terrorists and war criminals have already severely damaged our vital infrastructure system and we know the massive missile strikes are far from over. So, all we can do is to plan and prepare.

If you visit any Ukrainian city now, you’ll hear the humming of generators from afar. Our cities now function on individual generators in between power blackouts. People are building individual wells and installing pumps to get water if Russian terrorists further damage our energy and water supply. Ukrainians are equipped with sleeping bags, armed with power banks, flashlights, candles and heaps of new books to read when there’s no power. 

Last week also marked the day when terrorist attacks spilled the war into European countries. Our colleagues in Ukrainian embassies and consulates began receiving explosives and death threats in the mail. The first terrorist attack took place in our Embassy in Spain, where an explosion injured the Embassy’s employees.

Later on our embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia, Italy, Austria, the consulates general in Naples and Krakow, and the consulate in Brno received packages soaked in blood that contained animal eyes. Our ambassador’s residence in the Vatican was vandalised and our embassy in Kazakhstan received a bomb threat.

The only thing I have to say to the terrorists is: you won’t intimidate us. Your pathetic criminal attempts to somehow frighten Ukrainians haven’t worked once in more than nine months so don’t hold your breath now.

Our animals in Ukraine have and are suffering immensely because of Russia’s war. (Photos: Supplied)

Our animals in Ukraine are being killed and tortured in sanctuaries, national parks and zoos. (Photos: Supplied)


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Might I remind the terrorists that in a couple of months it’ll be a year of Russia “taking Kyiv in three days” and we are here alive and winning. Meaning that their dreams of torturing and killing the Ukrainian resistance, and building a subjugated nation without any freedoms or rights, has miserably failed and all they can show for it now are thousands of documented war crimes by the Russian government and its soldiers that they all will be tried for; a missing regular army; failing mobilisation; and a frightened Putin sitting in a bunker afraid of his own shadow, not to even mention attending a G20 (19) meeting. 

Apart from all of that, I’m personally heartbroken and distraught: DNA analysis confirmed that during the occupation of Izium, Russian terrorists killed our beloved Ukrainian children’s writer, poet and laureate of numerous literary awards, Volodymyr Vakulenko.

He was kidnapped by Russian terrorists in March and after the liberation of Kharkiv region, his body was found in a mass burial site along with hundreds of tortured and killed Ukrainians. An immense loss for our nation – Volodymyr was a talented, extremely gifted writer. He was a wonderful loving father and the love for his son shone through his writing. He will be greatly missed by our nation.

I have seriously debated with myself as to whether or not I should write about the next topic, but I came to the realisation that my job is to tell you the truth, and not to safeguard sensitive information. Though I do believe I should warn you so you can make a conscious decision on reading or not. If anyone is sensitive to the topic of animal abuse, please be warned. 

Our animals in Ukraine have and are suffering immensely because of Russia’s war. Apart from Russians heavily terrorising our villages and shelling the farms to mass kill all of our farm animals, that’s not all they’ve been doing. They take sick pleasure from killing and torturing our animals in sanctuaries, national parks and zoos.

The animals that were cared for and loved, the animals that were a big and important part of our lives. We’ve seen it all throughout liberated regions – Russians would slaughter our beloved animals in sanctuaries, national parks and zoos to either eat them or just torture them for their entertainment. 

For example, near Lyman, zookeepers who entered the city with our soldiers to check on their animals were left in shock. All of their animals were either beaten or starved to death. And a lot of the city favourites, like kangaroos, zebras and ostriches from the petting zoo were shot and eaten.  

The latest shock of barbarism was presented to us in the liberated Kherson in the sanctuary meant to preserve endangered wildlife of the region, mainly endangered species of hamsters. Among the tortured animals was a rare grey dwarf hamster, listed in the Red Book of Ukraine – an official national list of endangered animals, plants and fungi protected by law in Ukraine.

“Killing is entertainment for them. When the occupiers are unable to torture & kill civilians, they do it to animals” read the tweet of our Ministry of Defence that included photos of tortured animals from Kherson sanctuary. 

This isn’t just one or even 10 instances when Russian soldiers tortured and killed animals. They ate pet dogs for fun and we’ve found puppies with the symbol of the Russian war – the letter Z – literally carved on their noses with a knife. These are sick terrorists and the world should clearly understand who we are dealing with. 

It’s been another insufferable week. But we will push through and prevail. There’s no place on our planet for Russian terrorism and we are proud to stand up for the world and help to make it a better place. DM

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  • Louis Potgieter says:

    Where I sit, propaganda abounds. But one thing I see is that Russia can and will continue targeting infrastructure even if they have been driven from all Ukrainian territories. Demoralisation, fatigue and destruction will drive Ukraine to the negotiation table.
    It appears to me the Russians have a genuine issue with the Azofs. It should help the cause to bring them under control already.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    It is typical of the savage and barbaric Russians. It is in their history and DNA to be cruel, brutal and inhuman. That’s why evil and murderous monsters like Stalin, Putin, Beria, Lavrov etc can thrive in a sick and ghastly society. Pity the long-suffering and highly abused population who have been at the mercy and receiving end of these diabolical ogres. As for Ukraine 🇺🇦 – may God bless you, give you strength and fortitude to carry on killing these vile terrorists and just wish Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin suffer a horrible lingering death for all the pain, suffering, destruction and murder that they are committing. May they burn in hell forever more🔥. Long live Ukraine🙏

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