Live Updates: Explosions Shake Kyiv and Ukraine’s Second-Largest City

Marc Santora

Credit…Marc Santora/The New York Times

LVIV, Ukraine — With jars of pickled food, arms full of clothes, gallons of water and trash bags stuffed with toiletries, the stream of volunteers came all morning on Tuesday to a Lviv arts center to offer their help in the defense of the nation.

In one sense a citizen army is no different than a traditional army: Supply lines that keep it fed, warm and healthy are essential. So Yuri Viznyak, the director of the arts center, now finds himself leading a logistical operation aimed at helping sustain those on the front lines — from formally trained soldiers to members of newly formed territorial defense units.

They are also helping care for those displaced from their homes by war.

“We began immediately after the bombardment began,” Mr. Viznyak said. “Our main goal is to sort and pack all the humanitarian aid and send wherever it is needed.”

Every day, more volunteers join the group as they pack and send supplies from Odessa to Kharkiv, to Kyiv to Mariupol. It is one center in an emerging network, where volunteers and the police work together to ensure that supplies can be moved swiftly through dangerous battle zones.

That includes both the front lines and the camps that are forming outside the city for those fleeing their homes. A handful of volunteers has now grown into a sizable force.

“Only today, there are already 200 volunteers,” Mr. Viznyak said. By afternoon, there are usually so many people showing up to help that they have to turn people away.

On Monday, more than 60 trucks were dispatched across the country.

“Today will be more,” he said.

He offered a quick tour, zipping between stacks of toilet paper, trash bags full of clothes and crates of foodstuffs as he took phone calls.

Volodomir, 27, a volunteer, said that as more time had passed, people had moved from panic to action.

“We need to help our people, our warriors, our sailors,” he said.

The security people checking passports and identification were a reminder that even as the volunteers came together to provide relief, they are on guard against any Russian spies who might be in their midst.

Volodomir, who works for a neighborhood watch group, said that on a recent night he had found strange markings on a tree that he thought could have been placed there by a Russian agent. The group cut them out with a saw.

But things as simple as whether a person can say “palinitsya” — a word for a sweet bread — can trigger suspicion. Russians can’t say the word properly, Volodimir said.

Volunteering, he said, was one of the ways he coped with the stress of the war.

“When you are home alone, it is a bit scary, maybe,” he said. “But when you do something and you help others, you are completely OK.”


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