These days, the sounds of falling bombs, the whirring of rockets and the wailing of sirens announcing air alerts echo through the streets and alleys of many cities in Ukraine – but on Tuesday residents of the city of Odessa could hardly believe their ears when they heard the euphonious and cheerful tones of wind musicians.
It was the musicians’ first “performance” since the war began, and the sandbags and barricades around them designed to protect the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater testify to the very real possibility that an attack by Russian troops could happen at any time – In the background, explosions can be heard again and again in the distance.
But the band, all dressed in military uniform, continue playing undeterred, while the Ukrainian flags wave in the wind. Odessa, located directly on the sea, is an important hub for Ukraine for trade, industry and transport. So far, the metropolis has escaped Russian shelling, but residents are anxiously waiting to see if their historic city will be the next target of Russian attacks after Kyiv and Mariupol to the north and east.
But even if the Russians come – the will to fight is unbroken in Odessa: “We did not hand over Odessa to Hitler and we will not hand it over to anyone else,” said Galyna Zitser, director of the Odessa Philharmonic.