Okhtyrka in northeastern Ukraine is a place like no other. Towns and villages in the region near the Russian border were swept away during an invasion by Moscow forces that began on February 24, and the region of 48,000 people, located on the Vorskla River, said it was “need”.
On February 24, the first day of the occupation, a column of Russian tanks moved in with the intention of capturing Oktyrka and moving towards the capital, Kew. “They thought they were going to pass very quickly,” Mayer recalled. Pavlo Kouzmenko led an immediate response that saw Ukrainian troops hastily withdraw from their enemies, who had left behind tanks and other equipment.
Following the month-long siege, the Russians bombarded the city almost daily, destroying the town hall, a shopping mall, water and sewage systems, a fuel depot and the local thermal power station. After a month-long encirclement, Russian troops retreated on March 26, as did the rest of the area. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has named Oktyrka a “Hero City,” an honor bestowed only on Kharkiv, another city in the northeast.
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