Ukraine: Artists in Kyiv work 12 hours a day making anti-tank obstacles

An artist called Alex next to an anti-tank barricade
An artist called Alex next to an anti-tank barricade © Kosmos Tabir

Bodia used to organise cultural events in a community centre in northern Kyiv. Now he works 12 hours a day making giant anti-tank barricades known as "hedgehogs" aimed at stopping tanks. It is yet another example of how Ukrainian civilians are supporting troops as they try to repel Russia’s advance.

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“We work from 8am to 8pm, everyday, without breaks. Since the beginning of the war, we have made 150 anti-tank barricades. We have been working in a shipyard and a nearby boat factory has been providing us with lots of the material. We have also begun making bulletproof vests and we coordinate with NGOs around Europe for supplies and support.

 

Artists in the factory making anti-tank barricades
Artists in the factory making anti-tank barricades © Kosmos Tabir

 

Volunteers with anti-tank barricades
Volunteers with anti-tank barricades © Kosmos Tabir

 

 

'Everyone is doing what they can to defend our city, our country'

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, beginning a war that, to some Ukrainians, felt improbable until the first explosions went off. The resistance effort was immediate. 

On February 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens across the country to mobilise against Russia’s full-scale invasion. Thousands of people lined up to enlist in the military.

Meanwhile, everyday citizens were told to take up arms to defend their cities. The Ukrainian defence ministry encouraged residents of a Kyiv suburb to “make Molotov cocktails” and “destroy the occupier”. 

Analysts say the Russian military may have been caught off guard by Ukraine’s strong resistance. Bodia told us that everyone has become involved in the war effort.

Children, from the age of seven, are busy making molotov cocktails. Old women and restaurants are cooking food for soldiers. Civilians are signing up to fight. Everyone is involved, doing what they can to help, to defend our city, our country.

'The Russians could arrive at any moment'

With the invasion now in its second week, Russian troops and tanks are still outside the capital – but maybe not for long.

The situation in Kyiv has been calm for the last few days, there’s a mix of silence and sirens, with explosions going off every hour or so. We know that the Russians could arrive at any moment, but we don’t know when. So we are preparing ourselves, we are getting ready to fight.

When we go out to buy more metal, we see massive lines in front of every shop and pharmacy. Checkpoints are everywhere. This is a capital, it is usually full of life, but right now, it feels dead.

'We want to stay here until we achieve victory'

While thousands of Kyiv residents have packed their suitcases and left looking for safety elsewhere, many, like Bodia, refuse to leave and vow to defend the capital. 

If we wanted to leave Kyiv we could flee at any time. But we don’t want to. There are people here who need our help so we can’t leave. We want to stay here and defend our city until the very last minute. Until victory.

More than one million civilians have fled Ukraine because of the Russian invasion, according to the United Nations

Meanwhile, around 160,000 people in Ukraine who have fled the war are displaced within the country. 

The EU believes that figure could climb to seven million, and that 18 million Ukrainians will be affected by the war.