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new chess

Ukrainian soldiers on patrol play chess using Molotov cocktails as chess pieces, with light from their comrades. Twitter photo


In Every City, Every Village, Forest and Field

Abby Zimet

Assailing "this crime that reflects all evil that the invaders have brought on us," President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia's bombing of a Mariupol maternity hospital "the ultimate evidence (of) genocide" against Ukrainians. In an address in both Russian and Ukrainian posted Wednesday night on Telegram, Zelensky offered a litany of destroyed cities - Volnovakha, Izyum, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Okhtyrka, Borodyanka, Hostomel, Zhytomyr - to ask, "A children's hospital, a maternity ward...What is this country, the Russian Federation, that is afraid of hospitals?" In bitter tribute to his comedy past, he added, "Was it de-Nazification of a hospital?" Media described "colossal” damage to a 600-bed complex in the latest of 18 reported attacks on health facilities. In response, the Kremlin claimed, "Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets," likely news to the pregnant, bloodied women stumbling from the wreckage. The attack came amidst what the Red Cross has already called “apocalyptic” conditions in the southeastern port, until two weeks ago a vibrant, multicultural city of about 430,000. Now Mariupol residents are trapped without food, water, power, heat or medical supplies after Russian forces shelled and mined a so-called humanitarian corridor, stalling evacuations. "They are trying to exterminate us," said the city's mayor. "It's medieval."

The attack on Mariupol is just one atrocity of many, with multiple reports of decimated villages, bodies lying unburied, stranded residents melting snow for water. Over two million refugees have fled, often with wrenching farewells; new reports suggest Russians have begun dropping imprecise "dumb bombs," with ever greater devastation; the Chernobyl nuclear plant has been knocked off the power grid and is relying on back-up generators for its cooling systems; bombs dropped without warning on the northern city of Malyn killed up to 20 people, including two newborn babies. Still, argues historian Heather Cox Richardson, in a region of the world long beset by conflict and incursion and shifting borders, "The war is not proceeding according to Putin’s plans." To control Ukraine, she notes, Russia needed to take it quickly; despite forces 8 times those of Ukraine, it's failed to do so, exposing massive weaknesses in a military once deemed invincible. At the same time, it's suffered up to 10,000 deaths, the world has come together with remarkable unity to oppose Putin, and staunch Ukrainian resistance has changed the longstanding geo-political narrative: "Russians seem weak, and Ukraine strong. They have turned Russian propaganda on its head." Per Zelensky on Shakespeare's question "to be or not to be: I can give you a definitive answer: It's yes - to be."

Meanwhile, Ukrainians remain fiercely, stunningly defiant, feeding ever more resistance. Crowds of angry, chanting Ukrainians, hands in the air, surge toward panicked Russian soldiers who back up even as they fire in the air. Civilians fill, carry, stack sandbags at hospital windows; people stand or lie before oncoming convoys; farmers haul off so many Russian tanks with their tractors they boast Ukraine unofficially now has Europe's fifth largest military; musicians play "Don't worry, be happy" in the street or record themselves at home: "Music under the fire. Each sound can be the last one." People calmly gather together to make Molotov cocktails: "Let these Russian shits come here - we are ready to greet them." They film Russians stealing chickens - "They're just hungry thieves" - and struggling with doors: "Battle of Techno House 2022." Women troll Russian soldiers who arrive in their town: "Do you know where you are?! It's Konotop. Here every second woman is a witch. Tomorrow you’ll no longer be able to get your dick to stand." Women keep having babies - over 40 since the invasion began - in hospital basements, subway stations, shelters: "Life goes on. The screams of newborn Ukrainians will defeat (the) bombings of the terrorists." Women vow, "Not a single city/ village/ bullet/ bomb/missile/ heart /scream/ tear/man/ woman/ child/ Will be forgotten." And women combatants, who had to fight for their jobs, echo them, heartrendingly: "Glory to Ukraine."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email:

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