The conflict in Ukraine continues to destabilize life for millions of people, sending at least two million refugees over the nation’s borders in search of safety. Some Ukrainians already living in other places in Europe, however, feel it is their duty to drive right back into the conflict.
The Washington Post published a story about truck drivers who are risking their lives to bring badly needed supplies into Ukraine. Some told the Post they aren’t going to be returning to Berlin, choosing instead to stay and fight for their country:
“Somebody has to do this. It’s my war — my war is to deliver goods,” said Vadim Pashkiuskiy, 29, as he prepared to return to Ukraine. “It may be dangerous, but it’s my responsibility to my country. I’m not hiding. I’m doing whatever I can to help.”
Pashkiuskiy lives in Zhytomyr, a city 90 miles west of Kyiv, and he last saw his family the day before war broke out. He was driving a route in northern Germany when Russian troops invaded his country.
The Ukrainian government says more than 66,000 nationals have since returned from abroad, galvanized by the call of President Volodymyr Zelensky for citizens to join the fight.
And now that supply chains for food and medicine have been disrupted by the war, people going back have become all the more valuable — especially people driving cavernous tractor trailers.
“A week and a half ago, all of these drivers were on their regular routes in Europe when the world changed,” said Ewa Herzog, a Ukrainian who has lived in Berlin for 20 years and has been part of an effort to load returning trucks with supplies.
It all started with two trucks from a Ukrainian furniture shop owner, but soon organizers in Berlin put out a call for Ukrainian truck drivers all over Europe to help in an aid convoy. Volunteers have loaded trucks with supplies like medicine, food, cigarettes, prepared snacks and diapers — items in short supply since Russia invaded the country on February 24.
The normally 14-hour trip from Berlin to Ukraine is expected to take much longer, as some trucks have been stopped for up to 10 hours at the border for security sweeps, the Post reports. Trucks are doping supplies a few miles outside of the largest cities, as big trucks are instant targets for the invading Russian army. One driver in a separate supply convoy got all of 40 miles from Kharkiv.
However getting supplies to Eastern Ukraine, where the fighting is heaviest and civilian need is greatest, has been impossible as finding truckers to volunteer for that route is a hard sell. Still, organizers believe they will find someone to answer the call.
“Sometimes, miracles happen,” one organizer told the Post. “We need a miracle; we need to get these people help.”