The sacrifice of hero soldiers on the Isle of Snakes. The Russians mock them on social media

Of Andrea Nicastro

The case of thirteen Ukrainian customs officers who preferred to die rather than surrender ends up at the center of the information war

MARIUPOL On Thursday, Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed Russian citizens directly. We are different, but not enemies. He did it in Russian relying on the fact that before he got involved in politics he had been a more popular actor in Russia than in Ukraine. The problem for Captain Igor on the Donetsk front (the false name) that Moscow also communicates directly with the Ukrainians, including soldiers, and does so with social networks.

We have the experience of these eight years of war with pro-Russian rebels and well-positioned defenses. We withstood the first wave of blows, repelled a raid and destroyed an armored vehicle. We were elated. But just today that we have been hammered less, the mood of the boys plummeted. Why? Social fault. Without fighting, the younger soldiers grabbed onto cell phones and got drunk with photos of bombed Kiev on Instagram and skits from TikTok, all made in Russia. There is a gag shot like a movie: the husband returns to his wife holding a hare by the ears. “Shall we fry it tonight?” “I can’t, expensive oil”. “But how? We are the land of sunflowers “. “Now the oil for export”. “Then let’s boil it.” “We can’t, now we have to pay for Russian gas”. The furious husband releases the hare and it jumps away shouting “Long live Ukrainian independence”. Understood? Moscow fills us with this nonsense. She tells us that without her gas we will not eat, that we cannot resist their weapons, that our politicians are thieves. All bombs in the kids’ brains.

Day 2 of the war also on the Black Sea. The rhythm of the shelling on the Mariupol area decreases with the light, but that doesn’t mean it’s good news. From Kiev they warn of Russian infiltrators to sabotage, kill key executives. Perhaps in the brief pause of the bombing they also took the opportunity to contact the commanders of the various positions. Just give up. Do you want to die for a country that can’t cook a rabbit? After all, what Putin explicitly said when asking Ukrainian officials to carry out a coup against Zelensky. Perhaps he is right instead the officer of the territorial defense of Mariupol who responds hard-nosed to journalists. War is not a football match to comment on. It doesn’t all happen in 90 minutes. The first day the Russians made us understand what power they have. Today, perhaps, they wait for fuel, rest, wash, eat a hot meal. And we do the same. So when they attack we will stop them and it will be up to us to let them know that we have the wrong target. War is not fought in 24 hours.

Beyond Odessa, from the Snake Island to the mouth of the Danube in the Black Sea, an audio file arrives that does not solve the dilemma. It seems to be the recording of a radio communication between a Russian military ship and the Ukrainian garrison placed in defense of the island. We propose that you lay down your arms immediately to avoid bloodshed and unjustified deaths. I repeat give up or you will be hit. A woman’s voice whispers something, then the answer from the Ukrainian garrison: Russian warship go aff ….

President Zelensky immediately named the 13 customs officers who would die as heroes of the homeland in the bombing following the bad word. Moscow, on the other hand, says that after that intemperance, the 85 soldiers on the island surrendered. Whoever is right, the episode confirms the Russian method: seek the surrender of enemy units. If Putin really wants to install a puppet government in Kiev, the least he can do to make it easier for him to not feed resentment from future pro-Russian Ukraine residents.

War patience, civil anxiety. If the east front towards the separatist republics Ukraine has yielded only a few kilometers, to the west there are those who have spotted a first Russian tank in Berdyansk, 87 kilometers from here, 150 from the Crimea from which it should have started. Civilians in the port city of Mariupol are organizing themselves in the event of an invasion. Those who managed to escape have already done so. The others either have no gas in the tank or they have nowhere to go. They arrange the cellars as shelters, stock up, keep a backpack ready in case of a bombing, review the recipe for the Molotov cocktail. In the evening, a salvo of Grad missiles arrives. The city is shaking all over. The missiles appear to have landed on a school in the eastern suburbs. Maybe someone refused to give up.

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