One month in Odessa, Ukraine

One more week comes to an end in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Odessa. It has gone one month since my arrival and I have to say that time runs really fast here.

This week, with the help of some former volunteer combatants, I was introduced to the local Odessa battalion called “Shtorm”. Shtorm’s paramilitary battalion was formulated from the existing self defense personnel and included people from police squads, as well as civilians who enrolled as volunteers. The preceding week Shtorm and its personnel celebrated the fifth anniversary since the creation of the self-defense battalion. According to the stories that I have heard, all Ukrainian battalions including the Shtorm were not created randomly, but due to the anticipation of Russian aggression, as well as the further advance of the pro-Russian separatism into regions other than Crimea and Donbass. So, the paramilitary battalion Shtorm was created in responce to the events of 2014, and the fifth anniversary since the creation had a strong symbolic importance for the Ukrainian independence, as well as the capability of Ukrainian people to defend their country.

The flag of the Shtorm battalion
A child on an armored military vehicle

I had the honour to participate in this important event for both the battalion and its members. Everything began from the military parade ground with the singing of the Ukrainian anthem. Thereafter, the combatants were awarded with rewards and certificates for their deserts. Shtorm’s volunteer fighters played a significant role in impeding the advance of the pro-Kremlin insurgents in the Eastern Ukraine. Therefore, the deeds of the fallen soldiers were met with great respect both under the military performance and the joint lunch. Thanks to my acquaintances within the battalion and the hospitality of the Ukrainian people, I was invited to participate in this joint lunch. During the mingle, I was acquainted with more volunteer combatants who had very interesting stories to tell about their experience at the frontline.

Volunteers at the military parade ground
Award ceremony
At the joint lunch with the volunteers from Shtorm
The poster of fame dedicated to the fallen volunteer combatants

I liked the delicious Ukrainian dishes, especially those dishes with herring.  Herring can be found in almost all dishes such as sallads, sandwiches and in a warm meal with cooked potatoes and dill.

The combatants in the Shtorm battalion were very friendly. What I found interesting was the number of women in military uniform, which indicates a relative gender equality within the Shtorm. The upcoming week I plan to meet more volunteers from Shtorm and talk about their experience during the military operation in the Eastern Ukraine.

Hasta la vista!:)

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