Driving in his battered car, Valerii Kotenko showed off the spot where a Russian missile had landed. It had fallen next to his wheatfield. “That was in December. Fortunately it didn’t explode,” he said. The enemy frequently bombed southern Ukraine, he said, and his home in Odesa oblast. “They shoot at us like crazy. The Russians target us because they are bastards. And because we feed the world.”
Ukraine’s farmers have had a tumultuous time since Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Kotenko’s 120-hectare (300-acre) estate is a short journey from the port of Odesa on the Black Sea, hit last week by 17 Iranian drones. The rockets arrive from all directions. Russian frigates fire from the waters around occupied Crimea. Other missiles come from the east and the Sea of Azov.