After Russia announced a ceasefire on Tuesday, I made my way to the outskirts of Kyiv. I drove south and was surprised to find no trace of the Russian army at an 80 kilometers distance from the capital.
I continued eastward and arrived at Wyszogród, the northern-most neighborhood in Kyiv on the West banks of the Dnieper River. This neighborhood is where the city's northern post is located, which the threatening Russian convoy has been lagging to reach for several days due to a traffic holdup.
The convoy stopped at a bridge that the Ukrainians bombed, but if it advances it will reach Northern Kyiv.
Despite the snowy weather conditions, citizens have been bringing food to the soldiers at the post. Though I wasn't permitted photograph the fortification at the post, the Russian lieutenant Alex Gorgan was stunned to hear I was Israeli.
"My name is Alex, but my nickname is Zion", he told me. "Zion, like the holy mountain in Jerusalem. I'm Zionist". He opened his bag and elaborated on what was inside
"This is my bag that I take with me to battle, I have night vision tools, a water bottle, and my favorite book- 'Golda'. I'll take it even if it'll be the last battle". The officer was referring to the book written about the Israeli icon Golda Meir, who served as its fourth prime minister between 1969-1974, also during the Yom Kippur War.
I asked him what made him an admirer of Golda Meir and a Zionist. "I'm not Jewish, I'm Ukrainian. I'm a Ukrainian patriot, I'm a Ukrainian nationalist, and I'm Zionist because I think that Ukraine is the second homeland", he replied.
Meanwhile the Russians are advancing slowly. Their tactics are clear. They bomb the areas they plan to enter and after the civilians flee and the Ukraine military takes some serious hits, they move in.
They don't fight, they just hammer their target and move in when resistance is low. That is the doctrine. One reason could be their fear of anti-tank weapons NATO supplied Ukraine.
Kyiv is a city under siege with its main thoroughfares turned into barricades. To the invading Russian forces, the capital has a great advantage. Its streets are wide.
Civilians can attack the tanks with their fire bombs only on the smaller streets and in the alleyways, which they probably plan to avoid.
The government of Volodymyr Zelensky is optimistic about negotiations with Russia yielding some kind of a result. The two sides are not too far apart.
Officials say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to meet with Zelensky there would be no problem.
But I don't think that is realistic. Putin wants Ukraine to be like Finland and for Zelensky to be ousted and replaced by a pro-Russian president.
On the other hand, if Putin expects to wait for the Ukrainians to surrender, he may have a problem.
First published: 23:23, 03.08.22