Anna Goes Ukraine: Air-raid Siren in Zaporizhzhia

29 March 2023

Anna Bowles is a pro-Ukrainian activist from the UK, and from 23 March to 6 April she is in East and South Ukraine, with her friends from the Freefilmers NGO, interviewing local people – especially women in rural communities – about their experiences and survival strategies. Anna is blogging about her trip here – we are also republishing some of her blogs on Rights in Russia, but please also visit Anna’s site. You can donate here to support the people Anna meets.

Air-raid Siren in Zaporizhzhia

I’m drafting this post at 11pm and we’ve just had the ritual late-evening air-raid alert, a bit early today. If the orcs are feeling frisky there might be another in the middle of the night. In the week I’ve been here we’ve had two or three a day, which is quiet for Zaporizhzhia.

It’s actually quite faint (the volume depends, of course, on how close to the broadcast you happen to live), so you might have to turn the sound up to hear it. The full alarm goes on for five minutes. The all-clear is a single iteration of the tone’s up-down cycle.

The sirens often go off for much of east and central Ukraine at once, because once the prilyoty (‘incoming’, polite)/ blyadina (‘shit-siles’, not polite) are up in the air the Ukrainian air defence doesn’t necessarily know where they’re going to land, though if they’re pointed at a big city you can probably guess. So everyone under the path of the drone/missile gets an air-raid alarm. As the orcs like to lob stuff from the ships off the coast of the occupied territories, this means a whole lot of alarms in Zaporizhzhia even when it’s not being targeted. Tonight, though, only Zaporizhzhia oblast is red; maybe that means something local is being targeted? That’s ‘local’ as somewhere within 27,000 square kilometres.

This website is easy to understand and contains a lot of useful information for grasping the distribution of attacks and/or engaging in pointless worry about them when outside Ukraine.

If you click the hourglass it also tells you how many air alerts there have been in every oblast since the start of the war. At time of writing, Kyiv city has had 717, Kharkiv is in the lead with 1,935, and Zaporizhzhia is on 1,570. In total around Ukraine, 18,234 air alerts have been issued, with a duration of 1,197 days.

And we just had the all-clear!

If an air-raid alert is like anything except the previous eighteen thousand air-raid alerts, it’s probably a distractable cow:

MOOOOOOoooo! (grass-munching interlude) MOOOOOoooo! (naptime) MOOOOOOoooo! (got bored) MOOOOOOoooo! (drop cowpat) MOOOOOOoooo! (ooh, grass), et cetera.

That’s the war. But also in Sounds of Zaporizhzhia, I have discovered that Ukrainian washing machines sing for joy and pride at a job well done! Here, I pursued Ksiusha into the bathroom:

I have never known a British washing machine to do this.

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