Nicknamed the “second army”, the organization is a key element in Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion. It is, of course, the Ukrzaliznytsia – Ukrainian Railways, an enormous state-owned company that employs 350 thousand Ukrainians and transports millions of people around and out of the country.
What’s more, when required, trains have been transformed into mobile hospitals (like the one operated by Doctors Without Borders), they supply humanitarian aid to support communities in difficulty and they transport hundreds of thousands of tonnes of agricultural products. These important functions have made the organization the target of repeated Russian attacks on stations, railway bridges and repair depots, which have all become strategic targets. Likewise, railway workers have rapidly gained respect and admiration from the Ukrainian public due to the dangers that they face each day. The threat is partially reduced by dimming the lighting both on trains and at stations and by constantly changing the train routes.
However, such measures are not sufficient to defend the trains used for evacuations, which often pass close to the front lines and have to face a constant threat from enemy artillery. According to the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, since the beginning of the war more than one thousand railway employees have been killed.
( 2022 )