As Kyiv continues to come under Russian bombardment, Werris Beach artist George Gittoes is now asking himself: "Should we get out of here?"
It is, at this stage, a rhetorical question as Gittoes and his wife Hellen Rose plan to say at least another three weeks in the Ukraine capital, documenting the war
"It takes a lot of nerve to stay," Gittoes wrote.
"The bombings around the city are increasing. The city itself is deserted. There is almost no sign of civilians."
Not only are the apartments in Gittoes' neighbourhood empty, glimpsing people also is uncommon, particularly women: "It is very rare to see a woman unless they are in a uniform or working in one of the few small food shops."
And while there are few people, stray animals abound.
"We saw a lone cat staring out from a fourth-storey ledge - the windows of its building (probably former owners apartment) , smashed by the vibrations from bombs," Gittoes wrote.
"Everywhere there are dogs roaming the streets looking for love and a home. They are boney thin but not at all aggressive - just very needy.
"We pat them and look into their eyes and feel tempted to take them back to our apartment with us. Stray pets would never be allowed by the family who manage the building. There do not seem to be any other guests.
"The managers have a tubby young boy - about 10 - who spends all of every day with a white VR headpiece covering his eyes and his hands grip onto plastic sensors which he waves around as if they are swords, as he fights an invisible enemy."
There is, of course, a very visible enemy outside.
Gittoes explained the soldiers in the city have gone from "a degree of calm to a sense of frantic anticipation".
"Every day they strengthen the fortifications - improvised amateur barricades with rubber car tires, sandbags and metal welded together by local mechanics."
I was surprised at the worried stare of Dante - he was wrapped in sandbags in the park overlooking the Kyiv River.
War brings the inanimate to life in this profane and barbaric comedy being played out in the Ukraine.
The view from Dante's Park enabled us to see the modern city of Kyiv stretching out to the horizon.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Tall buildings as extensive as the skyline of Sydney , Melbourne and Brisbane combined. We did not realise how huge Kyiv is.
Having covered Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, I know how hard it is for an army to fight in a city with high-rise concrete buildings. I remember Sniper Alley Sarajevo, where the telescopic sights of riflemen positioned in the News Building and Holiday Inn created death traps for anyone on the streets and roads below.
It was similar in Baghdad where the American patrols described themselves as "targets with baggage" when passing near the big hotels like the Palestine. It would take years and a huge Russian death toll if they undertook street to street fighting in these avenues upon avenues of high buildings.
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