In Lviv, in the west bastion where people no longer sleep: “No surrender”

Of Marta Serafini

Citizens look to a possible aggression from Belarus: “But they don’t hate us that much.” There are 500 checkpoints to protect the city

from our correspondent

LEOPOLI – “No, it can’t happen here.” Until five days ago it was the bubble, the hub of aid, of the resistance, the rear at the gates of Poland, where those who finally arrived were safe. Shops open again. And ATMs running. For two days Lviv, the western bastion of Ukraine, no longer sleeps soundly. Two attacks, one against the military airport of Lutsk and the other in Ivano-Frankivsk where the most important international airport in the region is located, at dawn on Friday. Then at dawn on Saturday an air alert lasted more than two hours. The longest since the beginning of the war. While the fear grows that the Tsar wants to cut off the supply route to the East that passes through here. Andriy looks to the sky. Then the gaze rests on the statues of Rynok square, which the whole world has immortalized, covered with fireproof sheets and now surrounded by iron bars. «Our historical and cultural heritage is protected by Unesco. Putin is crazy but he won’t. Not even Hitler dared so much ».

Ukraine-Russia: the latest news on the war

Close to NATO countries

But it’s not just art that acts as a shield. 75 kilometers to the west, the border with Poland, bombing here as well as east would really mean declaring war on NATO. Furthermore, from the first days of the invasion to today, the Ukrainian anti-missile system has mostly intercepted Belarusian missiles coming from the north. An invasion with the Minsk military does not seem likely. Dictator Alexander Lukashenko is loyal to Putin yes. “But the Belarusians don’t hate us that much,” they say in the city. Near the center, the embassies of the countries that have decided to stay have been established. In the lead, Italy and France. The offices, the relationships are reorganized, we try to save as many people as possible. Supporting the aid machine in every way is the priority now. And supporting Kiev is now all the more important for Rome and Paris. This is why we work tirelessly. UN agency staff are also settling in the city. “There is one of the worst humanitarian disasters taking place, staying in the country is essential,” says an official. However, prudence is still a lot. “We stay alone as long as the conditions are right,” they all repeat while the voice is lowered almost for fear of breaking a delicate crystal. A few meters away, a group of children are playing among the sandbags of an anti-aircraft shelter. It’s the weekend, the schools are still officially closed, the hope was to reopen tomorrow, but who knows. “We will reduce the number of checkpoints from 500 to 100,” promised Ivan Sobko, deputy of the regional military administration in recent days.

The defenses

But maintaining the fortified city is all the more necessary, while the siege in Kiev is getting tighter, diplomacy is struggling to proceed and even on the southern front, towards Odessa and Mykolaiv, the pressure is increasing. The Friesian horses remain guarding Lviv then. Curfew and martial law in effect. Nobody is safe. The camouflages of soldiers and militiamen mix with the rustle of the elegant streets of the center. The line at the rifle and carbine shop is now for hours. Weapons are everywhere. In each warehouse, boxes of food, clothes and medicine are unloaded to be sent to the front. “Maybe there won’t be a war, but civil war for sure.” Nationalist slogans have now completely replaced advertising posters on walls and billboards. Goodbye Lviv, museum city, where tourists arrived with Ryanair for the weekend. Now it is Lviv, the bastion of resistance. The displaced persons camp which is hosting 200,000 people. And from which 1 million and 575 thousand people passed through to Poland. “Surrender is not an option.”

The presence of the government

The president’s men appear in the city. The Deputy Minister of the Interior was also spotted in the city. Lviv new capital? A group of 78 entrepreneurs asked local authorities to relocate factories and businesses to the region. “We are trying to identify possible hubs and locations,” they say again from the governor’s palace. And Zelensky? The president has been appearing on video for three weeks, in camouflage. He is in Kiev. In place of him. The circle around him and the city, however, increasingly narrow. Then? “And then it will be our turn. But we are waiting for them here ».

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