Vova, a Ukrainian baker, delivers bread aboard his white truck around Bakhmout, a city hit daily by the Russians.
Aboard his white truck, whose dirty body testifies to the poor condition of the roads they use, Vova delivers bread. A banal activity in times of peace, heroic when it is carried out in a zone at war, bombarded daily.
Nine months after the start of the conflict between kyiv and Moscow, this Ukrainian has never stopped delivering bread, and provides daily supplies to the inhabitants of Bakhmout, a city in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbass region. The activity is all the more dangerous as it is in this area that the fiercest fighting takes place. Bakhmout is bombarded daily.
Vova is aware of the dangers he takes. “A lot of drivers refuse to do that, they’re probably scared. Me, I think you can’t change your destiny, if you ever have to die, it will happen. Bakhmout is very dangerous, it can hit anyone where, anytime”, he testifies at the wheel of his truck. Then to add: “I remember one time when the bombardments on the road were too important, I had to turn around”.
“It’s pretty quiet this morning”
That morning, the sounds of the explosions can be heard in the distance. As Vova unloads her bread, the shells ring out. “They are bombing, they are bombing all the time, my house has been destroyed,” says a frightened client of Vova, who barely dares to go out on his doorstep.
“It’s pretty calm this morning,” says the baker, a bit offhand.
The inhabitants of Bakhmout do not hide the fact that without these deliveries, they would starve. All businesses have closed, and a majority of residents have preferred to leave. On the roads of the city, only a cyclist dared to venture that day, turning suddenly when a new bomb had just fallen.
“Without this bread, I don’t know what could happen, we would die of hunger”, testifies a man, met by the BFMTV teams.
The return of coal-fired ovens
If Vova can deliver its bread, it is because a factory, located 20 kilometers from the front line, continues to run day and night to produce it. The vagaries of war necessitated some restructuring.
The windows, blown out during the summer, have been replaced by tarpaulins. The ovens, which previously operated on gas, have returned to coal. For several weeks, Moscow has persisted in hitting Ukrainian energy installations.
“We had to hire more workers, train them. We also learned, because we did not know how to use coal. We had to refine all this, and after a month, we returned to normal production”, testifies to the microphone from BFMTV Olexander Milov, plant manager.
“I do what I can”
Every day, before dawn, seven tons of bread are produced. Among the employees who constantly take turns to prevent civilians from starving and to supply the soldiers, Olga, 32, a single mother.
“To be honest, I’m scared to come to work, but the soldiers on the front line don’t say they’re scared, they defend us. That’s why we can’t say anything and ‘we must continue,’ testifies the young mother, a scarf on her head, in full task.
Before slipping: “I have a family, I am a divorced mother and I have a child who must eat every day, I do what I can”.