DISPATCH: From Lviv to Kyiv, Local Teams Rush Supplies to the Front

March 22, 2022Joshua Skovlund

Roman and his crew deliver aid to the Ukrainian military in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 18, 2022. Photo courtesy of Roman.

LVIV, Ukraine — The young tattoo artist packs boxes into every square inch of his car for the 30-hour trip ahead. Roman — he asked to be identified by his first name only — lives and works in Lviv, but he’s headed toward Kyiv, bringing supplies and evacuating women and children on his return trip.

He and his team are aware that Russian forces are likely to fire on them if they’re spotted, but the team is determined regardless. 

“It’s dangerous, but there’s no other choice because people there need help, and we will do this work regardless of danger,” Roman told Coffee or Die Magazine the night of Thursday, March 17.

At 22, Roman is both a tattoo artist and the co-owner of two different bars in Lviv. He completed his fourth aid run to Kyiv Saturday morning. Roman and his team have been running aid missions to Kyiv since the Russian military invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. They are part of a small legion of Ukrainians from the peaceful western edge of the country around Lviv who are making dangerous round trips to bring supplies to Kyiv-based Ukrainian soldiers and citizens.

Each run takes approximately 30 hours, covering the 300 miles to Kyiv and back. It is far from highway driving. As they move to and from the lines, the teams dodge roving Russian military forces and artillery and rocket attacks.

Roman and his crew deliver a civilian drone to the Ukrainian military in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 18, 2022. Photo courtesy of Roman.

Coffee or Die met Roman and two of his teammates, Vladislav and Pavlo, as they planned their fourth trip to Kyiv while drinking tea and smoking hookah. Most of the interview questions were answered in Ukrainian and were later translated for this story. 

“This is our country, and of course, we are resolute in our actions, as without people like us, it’s really hard,” Roman said. “If I were on the front myself, I would like to know there are such guys who can deliver what is needed to them faster than an official institution.”

Roman’s entire group comprises 30 Lviv locals who’ve banded together as volunteers offering aid. Some make and pack up meals for soldiers and police around Lviv. Others gather donated supplies to be delivered to Kyiv. The group is split into teams, with Roman’s team providing medical supplies, gear, clothing, food, and various other items to refugees and soldiers in Lviv and Kyiv.

Not only have they delivered aid, but they’ve evacuated 30 women and children from Kyiv to Lviv since they started running aid missions to the capital after the Russians invaded. 

The latest load of aid supplies that Roman and his team delivered to the Ukrainian military and Kyiv residents Friday, March 18, 2022. Photo courtesy of Roman.

“Each time, we also took women with children every time we could,” Roman said.

Roman and his team have converted the two bars he co-owns into facilities for food production and assembly. They deliver the meals to soldiers and police officers positioned throughout Lviv and the refugees from the country’s eastern area now living in the city. They have curfew passes that allow them to work around the clock.

The approach to Kyiv in wartime is the most dangerous part of their runs. But Roman is familiar with the area, having grown up in the Poltava region in Ukraine, so he has an edge on planning routes to Kyiv. The team gathers as much information on Russian positions as they can before heading out, and they make adjustments as they travel. Still, they’ve seen what the war brings, having artillery and bombs landing within eyesight.

Roman, right, and two of his teammates, Vladislav, left, and Pavlo, center, the night they planned their fourth trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 17, 2022. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Everyone in Lviv, it seems, is trying to do his part. Workers cover statues and historic buildings to protect them from bombings, while others continue road construction despite the looming threat of war. 

“We will do our work until the very end to make sure people don’t die, and we want it all to end,” Roman said. If the Russians land at their doorstep, Vladislav has a strong message about how Roman’s group would respond.

“We would fuck them up, and that’s it,” Vladislav said. “We would defend our land.”

Read Next: Why the Skies Over Ukraine Are a ‘Nightmare’ for Russian Pilots

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
uss milius
US Denies Chinese Claim It Drove Away American Destroyer

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said that a statement from China's Southern Theatre Command that it had fo...

March 23, 2023Associated Press
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved