Ukrainians say they are often lucky these days.
Some consider themselves to be lucky if they live in the less-shelled regions of Ukraine far away from the Russian invasion forces.
Others feel lucky to live near a metro station so they can make it to safety should there be a missile attack. It takes only eight to 10 minutes from the time the air raid siren goes off to the actual fiery hit in a missile attack — so much depends on plain good luck.
Ukrainian parents feel blessed if their kids’ school has a good shelter. Some feel very lucky to be living on the lower floors of apartment buildings as the drones usually hit the top floors.
Many Ukrainians felt unbelievably lucky during the winter to live far away from critical civil infrastructure when Russia attacked it constantly in an attempt to freeze us to death.
In the face of the brutality of war, humanity’s instinct for survival is put to the ultimate test and when chaos descends and lives hang in the balance, luck really does determine who will emerge unscathed. Preparation, resilience and resourcefulness are essential. Ukrainians have a strict set of rules they follow during any attack to minimise the role of luck, although it is often an overlooked element that looms large over events in Ukraine.
Depicted in photos that accompany this column are unlucky civilians of Kyiv’s Podilskyi district on 16 June. As a result of a Russian terrorist attack, there was a substantial amount of debris from the intercepted missiles and it literally fell on people’s heads.
Seven people were injured in the attack, including two children. Three houses were destroyed, and 28 private houses, a shop, and a car were damaged. These people’s luck ran out on the afternoon of 16 June.
I am happy to report that most of the residents, as well as the guests of Kyiv and official delegates in the capital were very lucky on that afternoon. Those who rushed to safety in underground shelters, completely protected from the attack, were indeed very fortunate. They were blessed, shielded from danger by our air force and were able to relax in the quiet comfort of shelters.
In these dire circumstances, it becomes starkly evident that luck, that capricious and enigmatic force, sometimes determines who lives to tweet on and who sits on the ground with bloodied head and body worrying about the grandkids and the destroyed family home.
Exploring the role of luck in survival during war feels surreal as no one wants to plan their life based on being favoured by Fortune. But until the day the last Russian terrorist is chased out of our land, until Putin no longer poses a nuclear threat, we will continue our lives hoping that the whims of fate are on our side.
It is terrifying to live each day knowing it may be your last. It’s terrifying to worry every day for our armed forces, who are putting their lives on the line to protect us from the invaders. We are terrified for our medics on the frontlines and for our state emergency services — we know they are professionals doing their best to save us, and we pray that luck wakes up with them and us every day.
Murdered at night
I want to give you a clearer understanding of what Russian terrorism looks like when luck fails our people. This happened just a week ago. We’ve had a day of mourning for those murdered at night by a Russian missile attack on Kryvyi Rih. Russian terrorists hit the city on the night of 12-13 June, leaving 13 people dead and many injured.
In Kryvyi Rih, six rockets hit five civilian objects — a five-storey residential building, a transportation enterprise, a warehouse where water and beverages were stored, and other civilian objects.
These are some of the people killed by Russian terrorists on that night:
Danilo Kornilov was just 21. He studied at the State University of Economics and Technology, where he was in his fourth year. He was aiming for a diploma with honours. He was active and cheerful, balancing his studies and work with big plans for the future. He was building a life with his wife and a little son, who is only 15 months old.
David and Oksana Epelman were only 22. David was a teacher and an entrepreneur. Oksana was an only child. In 2022, she completed her master’s degree at Kryvyi Rih State Pedagogical University and started working as a teacher of elementary classes and English at Gymnasium No 108 in Kryvyi Rih. She taught children with special needs and they loved her dearly. The couple had many plans for their lives and dreamed of having their own children. They celebrated their first wedding anniversary on 3 June. Oksana and David always found time to help the armed forces of Ukraine and participated in weaving camouflage nets for the military on the frontlines.
Victor Tolstov was 23 and worked in a warehouse where water was stored. He was an optimist and a kind-hearted person. His mother, sister, and older brother are inconsolable.
Spilnyk Oleksandr Yuriyovych was 49 and worked in building maintenance at the Kryvyi Rih Educational Center of Metallurgy and Machine Building.
Anton Babich was 21, Andriy Rykhel was 17 and Vladyslav Kuznetsov was 20. The three friends were from the village of Vilyne in the Kryvyi Rih district. They all worked at the same warehouse. Andriy was the youngest of the victims, having finished school just this year. The boys were cheerful and hardworking.
Lydia Serhiivna Taranova was 77, a retired resident of the five-storey building that was hit. She was born the year after World War 2 ended and never thought that the enemy would bomb peaceful cities in Ukraine again in the 21st century.
Mykola Hryhorovych Denisenkov was 67 and a warehouse guard. He died in hospital from extensive burns.
Sergiy Kuzmych Hurytsya, was 38 and worked as an installer at an enterprise in Kryvyi Rih. He was brought to hospital from the burning five-storey building, and doctors battled valiantly and unsuccessfully to keep him alive.
They were from 17 to 77 years old. All were killed by Russian missiles fired at night.
And NOT ONE of them was lucky enough to make it to a shelter and tweet how there is no war, no missiles, no explosions and no terrorists. DM