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Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt.-Ing. (FH) Laurenz Görres

Visit to Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture (OSACEA) in Ukraine in June 2023

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All pictures and videos by Laurenz Görres.

Click on picture to enlarge!

 

Travel from Ruedesheim on River Rhine to Odessa in Ukraine


During my second trip to Ukraine I wanted to explore southern Ukraine. In June 2023 I traveled with a broken shoulder from Ruedesheim on River Rhine via Frankfurt Hahn Airport to Chisinau (Republic of Moldova). With me in my lagguage: my foldable bike. In Chisinau, I stayed overnight in a hotel and traveled on to Odessa by bus the next morning. Traveling by bus overland took about 6 hours including border control. The entry for Europeans into Moldova as well as into Ukraine was not complicated: You show your German passport and get a visa immediately. No questions are asked. However, Eastern Europeans, Asians and Ukrainian men under 60 are rather strictly controlled at the Ukrainian border crossing.

I would like to say "Thank you" to all the people in Ukraine who helped me to make this interesting trip. In particular, this applies to: Iryna from Odessa University, Vadym from Mykolaiv (especially a very big thanks for all your time traveling with me around Mykolaiv and to Kherson), Torsten and Vadym from Kyiv and - of course - Roman and Pavlo from Lviv University.

Chisinau airport in Moldova (a week later, two people were shot on this forecourt; watch here)

By bus I traveled from the airport
to the city center (since I had no "Lei" currency in my wallet, I got a ride for free)

Reaching hotel "California"
in Odessa

From Chisinau in the Republic of Moldova I went by intercity bus to Odessa in the Ukraine (with me: my foldable bike)


First of all: The situation in Ukraine is different,

than it is known from the news in Germany.

It is better and at the same time much, much worse! Please watch the following report!

 

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Odessa


In Odessa, I made contact with the "Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture" and visited the city. It was important for me to exchange ideas with the professors about "teaching" and to offer my help teaching Ukrainian students in the subject "construction management". Furthermore I wanted to hear more about the requirements and ideas to "ReBuild Ukraine". Finally: The university is interested in an exchange and so it may be possible that I will have another teaching engagement in Odessa from September 2023 - I am looking forward to it.

Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture

Campus of "Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture"

Meeting with the Vize Rector

Exchange with the Vize Rector

Visiting the Institute of Material Sciences

A tour around the laboratory at the
Institute of Material Sciences

A tour around the laboratory at the
Institute of Material Sciences

This scale is a laboratory scale and connot lie! The material press in the background was built in 1960 and is therefore 7 years "younger" than the one at KNUBA.

At the Academy of Arts I got to see the students' work 

The pictures painted by students were
partly very impressive.

I really liked a picture about the Ukraine war, which perfectly represents the real situation and looked like a repainted photo (Artist: Grigorenko K.V. | Diploma of Fine Arts)

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Odessa City  |  Impressions from June 2023

Odessa is a beautiful town

View over Odessa to the northwest (to countryside)

View over Odessa to the northeast to the port

View to the harbor, where no ships were docked on that day. In the background many grain silos are visible.

Odessa is a city of the "post-Soviet" era and therefore has a lot of war monuments.

On this pedestal once stood a statue of Catherine II,
but with the beginning of the war this statue was removed.

One of many war memorials in Odessa
(about the Afghanistan war)

Another larger war memorial south of Odessa
about the 2nd World War

Churches and monasteries also characterize the image of Odessa

Some of the buildings of the monasteries and churches are
very impressive.

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral from inside
on 21st June 2023

Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral from inside
on 23rd July 2023 after Russian missile strike
(this is definitly not a military target)

Source: Welt online | dpa/Libkos

Street scene in the center of Odessa

Street art very often commemorates the soldiers at war.

There are still people from Odessa visiting the beaches.

Swimming in the sea is not recommended due to the collaps of the Kakhovka dam.

Also in Odessa - the same as in Lviv - there are German breweries and pubs. The beer tastes very good.

Beautiful street art in the center of Odessa

Trip by night train from Odessa to Kyiv.
(The train runs in Ukraine on time!)

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Odessa City  |  Circumstances of war  |  Impressions June 2023

The streets of Odessa show signs of war again and again.

In the Odessa parks, you better stay on the trails (off the trails could be a mine hazard).

On many posters in the city is pointed out about the dangers in the Black Sea after the collapse of the Kakhovka dam.

This residential and commercial building
was attacked on 14th June 2023 with a
cruise missile.

It is a larger building complex located southeast of Holovna railway station.
‚Üí You can find the location of the complex here on Google Maps

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Odessa City  |  Air raid alarms  |  Impressions June 2023

During my stay in Odessa there were several air raid alarms (especially at night and early in the morning). I eventually stopped counting and researching the alarms.

"Sound of sirens"

During a Russian drone strike on Odessa (the city uses not a howl but a continuous alarm tone)

Odessa
23rd June 2023
6:23 AM

There are several websites and apps with information about the reasons for an air raid alert.

Warning on:
https://alerts.in.ua/en

Information on:
https://alerts.in.ua/en.

Air raid alert message on a
Telegram channel including "commentaries" of Odessa's citizen

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Mykolaiv


While visiting Kyiv in March 2023, I met a Czech photojournalist, who recommended that I should visit Mykolaiv city to better understand the destruction done by Russian military. Mykolaiv was besieged and shelled by Russian troops for weeks during the first months of the war. For this reason, I traveled from Odessa to Mykolaiv, which is a bus trip of ~115 km to the northeast. On this occasion I also took a look at Kherson, which is located about 50 km southeast of Mykolaiv and is currently the combat zone. The same applies to Ochakiv just ~50 km southwest of Mykolaiv, which is repeatedly shelled from the Russian-occupied Kinburn Peninsula. These are two high-risk areas because a warning time for artillery fire is not given. 

Map of south Ukraine showing Mykolaiv, Kherson and Ochakiv and the course of the front line (in June 2023)


Mykolaiv city

Mykolaiv was a harbour city and a ship construction site during the Soviet era. This swing bridge provides access to the port.
The "Moskva", which was the Russian flagship in the Black Sea) and got destroyed by Ukrainian army in April 2022, was built in Mykolaiv. 

In Mykolaiv almost all streets are planted with trees.

This is the city centre of Mykolaiv.

one part of the harbour with a dock facility

street art in the city centre of Mykolaiv

The same as in Odessa, Mykolaiv also commemorates the wars from the Soviet era.

Another war memorial in the city centre of Mykolaiv

A (former) German brewery with very
good beer

Mykolaiv may not be the most beautiful city, but it is an interesting city.

nach oben


Mykolaiv city  |  Circumstances of war  |  Impressions June 2023

destroyed building in the city centre ... (hit by a Russian missle)  |  → You can find the location of this building here on Google Maps

... as a memorial of the war

Mykolaiv city centre: Destroyed by Russian bombardment.

Mykolaiv city centre: Destroyed by Russian bombardment.

Mykolaiv city centre: Destroyed by Russian bombardment  |
‚Üí You can find the location of the complex here on Google Maps | And a view from Google Street View you find here.

Mykolaiv city centre: Destroyed by Russian bombardment.

Mykolaiv city centre: Destroyed by Russian bombardment.

Residential and commercial building with a children's clothing store.

Remainings of the children's
clothing store.

A purely residential building destroyed by
Russian bombardment.

In the pile of rubble infront of the destroyed house I found this teddy, who did not "survive" the attack.


When Russia claims that it targets and hits only military infrastructure, then these picture show that this is simply not true.

A residentail building with a supermarket destroyd by Russian bombartment.

This was a three-story administrative building
of the city of Mykolaiv.

"Business-Center Mykolaiv" destroyd by Russian bombartment.

Naval Academy in Mykolaiv destroyed by Russian bombardment |  → You can find the location of the building here on Google Maps | And a view from Google Street View you find here.

The destroyed infrastructure forces the people to get fresh water from public wells. The tap water in Mykolaiv is from the river, slightly salty and not drinkable.

A fresh water tap sponsored by Denmark.

destroyed electrical infrastructure
(transformer after artillery fire)

destroyed electrical infrastructure
(this transmission line was lying horizontally on the ground and was provisionally repaired)

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Mykolaiv surroundings  |  Circumstances of war  |  Impressions June 2023

Those who believe that the damage in the city of Mykolaiv is already enormous should consider that there is much more damage in the surrounding area. Along the main road between Mykolaiv and Kherson (M14) many buildings and whole villages were destroyed during the Russian advance and many fields were mined for kilometers. These fields, which also contain, for example, defective electricity infrastructure, will not be accessible again until the mines have been cleared.

Access road to a village off the main road M14 between Mykolaiv and Kherson

destroyed administration building

destroyed residential building

destroyed residential building (not accessible due to danger of booby traps and IED's)

Garbage dump

Sign indicating existing danger of mines and booby traps

Did you ever stood in front of a minefield? This is what this looks like. The house in the background is not reachable, because the small field to the house is mined. If you stand in front of such a minefield, you can feel how inhumane the use of mines is, because the danger is not visible and the opponent has left the area since long time. A laid mine needs nothing, makes no noise, does not sleep and "works" 24/7 until it is triggered. Mined areas may be marked with warning signs, but actually belong properly secured and fenced, because small children may not be able to read these signs or engineers (like me), repair teams ... investigating the area do not know about this danger. The Russian army has mined large areas in "Mykolaiv oblast." Ukraine will probably need years for their removal.

another ammunition danger sign

Did you ever stood in front of a real minefield?
In the direct vicinity of this minefield is a children's playground - it doesn't get any weirder than this!

An residental house in a minefield

The remains of a Russian missile on a children's playground in the center of the village

damaged electrical infrastructure (transformer house) | Next to the transformer house is a ditch where a tank took shelter and which now serves as a garbage dump.

destroyed electrical infrastructure
(transmission line)

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Mykolaiv surroundings  |  Region Ochakiv  |  Circumstances of war  |  Impressions June 2023

The problem of Ochakiv is its proximity to the Kinburn Peninsula, which is Russian occupied.

In the Ochakiv region it is obligatory to wear a bulletproof vest. This is provided with steel plates and is so heavy that it does not really do any good to a broken shoulder.

The remains of a missile fired by Russian troops at critical infrastructure in Ochakiv.

Ochakiv is located opposite the Kinburn Peninsula, from which Russia repeatedly shells the Ochakiv region. The warning time is so short that bulletproof vests have to be worn.

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Mykolaiv city  |  Air raid alarms  |  Impressions June 2023

Also in Mykolaiv there were several times air raid alarms.

"Sound of sirens"

Situation during an air raid alarm in Mykolaiv

Mykolaiv
23rd June 2023
4:25 PM

Warning on:
https://alerts.in.ua/en

Infomration on:
https://alerts.in.ua/en.

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Mykolaiv  |  What needs to be done!

Restore and Renew the critical infrastructure for energy supply:

In my opinion, Mykolaiv is an excellent oblast for the "green reconstruction" of Ukraine. The proximity to the coast favors wind power development, and the large agricultural areas makes it possible to use solar power and to produce biogas for power generation. The country is sparsely populated, so the energy production by wind, solar and biogas will not disturb people. With these sources for power supply, power generation in Ukraine could be diversified, which would have several advantages. Power generation could thus be decentralized and does not longer require large power plants, which means there would be less "critical infrastructure". Less "critical infrastructure" also means that in the event of war, the energy supply cannot be destroyed as easily as it was done in Ukraine by Russia in the winter season of 2022/23.

Only the problem to store energy from wind and sun needs to be solved. A technology for intermediate energy storage would be required like e.g. a battery plant or pumped storage plants. With its location close to the Dnipro River, additional hydropower could be generated in the neighboring Kherson oblast and used to balance peak loads. For such a project, however, the power grids would have to be redesigned, but they are in need of renewal anyway due to a high degree of destruction. Decentralized power grids also require new "energy managers" and create many new, highly skilled jobs, which would be beneficial for the area.

Other tasks that would have to be accomplished in Mykolaiv oblast from my point of view:

  • Timely start of explosive ordnance reconnaissance, mine clearance and munitions recovery (especially also in all flooded areas after the collaps of the Kakhovka dam)
  • Demolition of destroyed buildings and recycling of all building materials
  • Establishment of (certified) recycling centers
  • Road construction (e.g. with recycled material from destroyed infrastructure if feasible)
  • New construction of drinking water supply (in Mykolaiv)
  • Waste disposal
  • Reconstruction of village infrastructures (e.g. schools, administrations)
  • Construction of protective structures for "critical infrastructure" (e.g. substations, transformer stations ...)

In the short term, however, the people in the destroyed villages must be provided with electricity and water, and the "garbage problem" must be solved. This task is probably one of the most important at the moment. In my opinion, teams of experts (civil engineers, electricians, deminers etc.) need to catalog the damages in the villages immediately and arrange for the necessary repair works without delay. It was not possible for me to find out whether this task had already been started.

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Kherson


In Kherson, the damage from shelling by the Russian army seemed to me to have been less than in Mykolaiv, but the collapse of the Kakhovka dam let to greater damage and submerged many houses near the river. Around 23rd June 2023, the Ukrainian army launched a landing operation near Antonovskiy Bridge (just north of Kherson) to cross over to the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro. This resulted in artillery fire from both sides of the river in the days that followed, including from the city of Kherson itself. The artillery fire was very loud during my walk near the Dnipro river. In Kherson itself, buses are running, people are living and stores are open for daily needs. However, the city seems rather deserted.

monument at the town entrance to Kherson |  → You can find the location of the monument here on Google Maps.

road next to the Dnipro river full of mud from flooding (about 200 to 300 m away from river)

road next to the Dnipro river full of mud from flooding

flooded house in Kherson  |  The water reached to the electric meter in the wall | → You can find the location of the building here on Google Maps.

shelled house in Kherson

Life goes on in the city center of Kherson.

Although according to the resident this is a "very dangerous zone", he is cutting the lawn with a trimmer (while around it the sound of artillery fire could be heard) | ‚Üí You can find the location of this scene here on Google Maps.

shrapnels from a grenade

It is not easy to visit Kherson, because it is a combat zone and is therefore a restricted area. However, with Vadym it was possible and so I could get a picture of the damage in Kherson. Many thanks to Vadym!

The river bank is closed, but it is possible to survey roads next to the river.

It is strange to be in the only place in Ukraine where documented fighting is taking place.

Websites and apps provide information about possible dangers. For Kherson on this day of visit: 1 alarm of 6 minutes duration, 2 reported explosions.

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Kyiv


Kyiv city  |  Impressions June 2023

Visiting KNUBA to discuss next semester's teaching lectures.

bell tower of Sophia's Cathedral

Sophia's Cathedral

golden mosaic inside Sophia's Cathedral

view from Dnipro to the right bank in Kyiv

view of the Dnipro from the right bank

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Kyiv city  |  Circumstances of war  |  Impressions June 2023

To be seen on a panel in the Sohpia's Cathedral

Consequences of a rocket impact
into a high-rise residential building

The missile penetrated the skyscraper
and destroyed the 15th to 18th floors.

Square at Michael's Monastery in the center of Kyiv with tank exhibition

In the meantime all walls at Michael's Monastery are covered with photos of dead soldiers!
Three months before (end of March) four wall elements were still uncovered.

This soldier was less than 20 years old when he died in Mykolaiv (due to a rocket attack).

commemoration of the dead soldiers
on the Maidan in Kyiv

This is what Ukrainians want (a large poster on the walkway near the Maidan).

With this stamp the Ukrainians prove their sense of humor

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Lviv


Lviv city  |  Impressions June 2023

 city centre of Lviv

city park in Lviv

Children play in a fountain in front of the opera in Lviv.

city centre of Lviv with town hall

Ukrainian opinion about Mrs. Merkel
expressed with its own beer (from 2018).

The biggest Ukrainian problem (in peacetime)
expressed with its own beer.

Quote: "... Since the beginning of the war in Donbas, Merkel insists on a peaceful conflict resolution, refusing to supply necessary weapons to Ukraine. ... Germany now tries to attempt the impossible - fight with Russia, while still doing business at the same time. Danke, Frau Rippentrop."

Note: The beer is from 2018 and the latter statement is unlikely to have changed much.

Note: Ribbentrop was Hitler's foreign policy advisor and his office bore the official title "Foreign Policy Advisor and Commissioner of the Government for Disarmament Affairs".

The cemetery for fallen soldiers of the city of Lviv is getting bigger and bigger.

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Insight of this trip to Ukraine


During my 2nd trip through Ukraine I realized once again that this war will not end until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored. Ukrainians will never stop fighting for their country as long as they are able and have the means to do so. Russia will never be able to dominate this country. That's where Putin has completly miscalculated.

So what is the best way to end this war? Negotiations with Russia? Putting the conflict on ice? Continue fighting as it is done, now? Intensify the fighting?

For sure: The fighting must end and the sooner it does, the better. It would be reasonable for Russia to withdraw to its old borders and talk and negotiate with Ukraine.

 


last updated: July 2023

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