Ukraine war latest news: Russia strikes Mykolaiv in another blow to the besieged city

The first person Yana Moravants tried to persuade to leave her home near the front lines of Ukraine was a young woman, five months pregnant.

She didn’t want to give up her cows, her calf, or her dog. Ms. Moravinets told that she had put her energy and money into building her house near the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, which she was afraid to lose.

‘None of this will be necessary when you lie here dead,’ said Mrs. Moravenets.

From the early days of the war, Ms. Moravinets, a 27-year-old photographer and videographer from the area, took on a new volunteer job with the Red Cross: encouraging people to evacuate. In phone calls, conversations on the doorstep, public speeches in the village squares, sometimes under fire, she tried to convince the Ukrainians that leaving everything behind was the only sure way to survive.

Convincing people to give up everything they’ve built in their lives is one of the many dismal jobs created by war, and another Challenge Powers have encountered. While the city of Mykolaiv managed to repel Russian attacks early in the war, the strikes devastated this city and its region, bringing widespread death and destruction. Many residents have left, but hundreds of thousands are still there, and The mayor’s office has Urging people to leave.

Ms Moravinets, who has spent thousands of hours in recent months trying to establish the cause of the eviction, said she was not prepared for the task. She said she started having panic attacks, but felt she had to keep going.

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“The war is not over and people are still putting themselves in danger,” she said on a Zoom phone call from Mykolaiv that had to be interrupted by the bombing. “If I can convince one person to leave, that’s really good.”

Boris Shchapelki, the disabled evacuation coordinator who works alongside Ms Moravinets, described her as a tireless worker, kind to the people she needs to evacuate and “always in a good mood” with her colleagues.

With the Red Cross, she said, she helped evacuate more than 2,500 people, but many stayed or returned a few days after they left. It took a month and a half to convince the pregnant woman to flee, Moravinets said, and she only left after she had her windows smashed twice.

“Especially when it’s safe, people think it’s okay and they live under some illusion,” she said. “They decide to leave only when the missiles reach their house.”

attributed to him…Laetitia Fancon for The New York Times
attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

For two years before the war, Ms. Moravenets worked for Lactalis, a French dairy company with a factory in the area, touring farming villages to check the quality of the milk.

Now that many country roads are dangerous, she has reached remote villages, avoiding fire by using shortcuts she learned in her previous job. But now it has to persuade the dairy farmers to give up their livelihoods.

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“It’s their whole life,” she said. They say: How do I leave my cows? How do I leave my cows? “

Before the war, she said, a cow could cost up to $1,000. Now, people take them to slaughterhouses to get meat for a fraction of that.

Ms Moravinets said some of the farmers who agreed to the evacuation left the barns open, so the animals wouldn’t die of starvation, and cows, bulls and ducks now roam the village streets in search of food and water.

“The people who had the money, the opportunities, the cars have left,” Moravinets said. But others, who lived in the bunkers for several months, told her they were ready to die there because they refused to leave.

She said she was staying for the same reason.

“The people who remain are those who are willing to sacrifice their lives.”

Valeria Safronova Contributed reporting from New York.

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