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A report from a fellow framebuilder in Ukraine

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A report from a fellow framebuilder in Ukraine

Old 04-27-22, 11:18 AM
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Doug Fattic 
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A report from a fellow framebuilder in Ukraine

As I'm sure everyone knows (because I post about it all the time), I do a charity bike project in Ukraine. We started this project 22 years ago by buying bicycles from the XB3 company in Kharkov. Eventually we made a little frame workshop on a college campus in Bucha. Yes the city frequently in the news. It has served as a place for some of my student builders to refine their skills making frames for a few months. And I've shared some framebuilding tips to a variety of amateurs that managed to get to the campus that isn't that far away from Kyiv (although fortunately a bit too far for the Russian invaders). One of these guys is from Kyiv and posts some on the VS framebuilding forum. And the other one is from Kharkov. For those not paying attention to international news, that is a big industrial city in Ukraine near the Russian border now getting destroyed by the Russians. This is what he wrote me today:

Hi Doug, Me and my girlfriend moved to central part of Ukraine, to Vinnytsia. It feels much safer here. My parents still near Kharkiv, in opposite direction from russia, so it’s safe where they are living, but they have to go to the City from time to time for some groceries and check their property. Last week there was missile attack on my father workshop (where my framebuilding workshop locates as well), luckily no one hurt, only windows was destroyed. But yeah, everyone is alive and we are safe, thanks. Dmytro

If anyone would like to send him a message of support, you can email me at dougfattic for his email address. The rest of my email address has the usual gmail ending. I can also provide details on how to donate. The center of Ukraine has a line of cities that are not being bothered as much by the Russians because they are the furthest from the borders. That is the route Ukrainians use getting out of the country. Going east from Kharkov are the cities of Polatva, Cherkassy, Vinnytsia and then they either go south towards Modova and Romania or NE towards Lviv and the Polish border.

One of my translators is married to a pastor and has connections along that entire route. We've been using the funds we have in our project as well as money that has recently been donated to pay for fuel to get people to the borders and buy food for the return trip back for those that have to stay. The churches in these cities are centers for the refugees. They have big kitchens to cook and feed and space for them to sleep.

I don't know the status of our shop. I've learned the campus itself has had remarkably little damage compared to the total destruction a couple of blocks away . The Russians broke some windows and kicked in the doors. They didn't steal the desktop computers. All of the college students immediately left campus when the invasion started for a sister college in Germany where they are continuing their studies. I heard the building in the back of campus across the pond from our shop where the video studios are located was totally destroyed. Our tools were put into storage containers next to the shop but who knows if they tried to break in or not. I'm thinking not because there are some fancy houses that are around the campus that would be much more interesting targets.

Our shop is the little red building to the left of the green houses. This part of campus was popular for students when they wanted some quiet time. The house you see to the right of the shop is not on campus.


The left side of the shop was the frame building section. The propane tank is under the alignment table and the oxygen tank is on the other side of the table.


The right side of the shop was where we built up the frames into complete bicycles. The fixture on the alignment table is a kind of conglomeration of American and Ukrainian laser cut pieces. The ones we actually have made there have many more accessories.


This is a poster just a few blocks away from campus on the fence of what used to be a beautiful city park with walking/bike trails.
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Old 04-28-22, 03:38 PM
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Thanks for posting, keep us apprised. I saw your reply with some of this info in my thread.
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Old 04-30-22, 06:10 PM
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Good to know the people you have over there are at least safe at this time. I hope things stay safe for them.

I don't have a clue as to what is going on over there, but I do know that Ukraine and Russia are not friendly towards each other. Honestly, it pains my heart to hear of the pain being caused by both governments. People make zero sense. Just no sense at all.
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Old 05-01-22, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Good to know the people you have over there are at least safe at this time. I hope things stay safe for them.

I don't have a clue as to what is going on over there, but I do know that Ukraine and Russia are not friendly towards each other. Honestly, it pains my heart to hear of the pain being caused by both governments. People make zero sense. Just no sense at all.
My Ukrainian friends are now semi safe physically. They are not completely safe unless they leave the country of Ukraine. They are also under high stress because they don't know their future and the structures that support their lives have been damaged or destroyed.

The Slavic people of Russia and the Slavic people of eastern Ukraine are the same group of people by DNA and language. 2022 is the 2nd time that Vladimir Putin the president of Russia has used their military forces to invade Ukraine. The 1st time was in 2014 when Russia took the peninsula of Crimea that juts out into the Black Sea. Crimea is a militarily strategic location. In addition the Russians invaded sections of eastern Ukraine to create a land bridge to Crimea. This original fight has been ongoing resulting in thousands of deaths.

in 2022 Putin directed a much bigger invasion of Ukraine. His attempts to capture the capital city of Kiev and get rid of Ukrainian's democratically government has failed so far but left a trail of destruction. Right now Russian forces are slowly advancing in eastern Ukraine by blowing up everything in front of them. My hope is that Putin stops this invasion and returns all Russian forces back their country where they belong. Putin fits my definition of evil which is not being concerned about the damage caused by his attempts at gain. It will take decades to rebuild Ukraine to where it was before the Russian invasion.
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Old 05-03-22, 06:05 AM
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Another amateur framebuilder that lives in Kyiv has written me about his circumstances. He and his wife had left Kyiv to stay in the countryside when the invasion started. Several times he rode his fixed gear on a bicycle frame made by the XB3 company in Kharkov out to Bucha to meet me. Bucha is about 20 miles from downtown Kyiv. The shop he is talking about is the one in the pictures above. He has posted on the VS frame forum sometimes. This is what he wrote yesterday:

We are fine. I have returned to Kyiv, it is relatively safe here.
It is forbidden to go outside from 22:00 to 6:00 and sometimes the
rockets hit something.
I do try to make small bike rides outside the city but have not been
to Bucha yet.
If I ever go there, I will try to take a look at the shop.
Obviously, I won't be climbing any fences or anything.
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Old 05-03-22, 06:36 AM
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This is the life of our translator today May 3, 2022. She often translated for us when I was working with Yuriy to make bicycle frames in our shop in Bucha. She got married to a pastor and they have 2 little girls. They were able to escape from Kherson (a city above Crimea now occupied by Russians) where they lived and are now in Lviv a city in west Ukraine filled with Ukrainian refugees that have come from the eastern parts of Ukraine. Last week, because she can also speak German, she took her aunt to Frankfort where her aunt will continue traveling to the States. She came back to Ukraine to be with her husband and 2 kids (that were being watched by her mom while she was gone). His job description is now food delivery guy. He buys food with money we and others send him and he delivers it to people that can't leave the city (usually the old and disabled). This is what she sent me this morning. Lviv is considered to be one of the safest cities to be in Ukraine:

"We went to the city of Lviv to buy some things for us and kids. And it is air raid alert. All the people from the mall, went down to the underground parking. Me and my husband too." Some time later the all clear was given and everybody went back to the mall.

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Old 05-03-22, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
His job description is now food delivery guy. He buys food with money we and others send him and he delivers it to people that can't leave the city (usually the old and disabled).

"We went to the city of Lviv to buy some things for us and kids. And it is air raid alert. All the people from the mall, went down to the underground parking. Me and my husband too." Some time later the all clear was given and everybody went back to the mall.
Thanks for the update Doug. In case anyone wants to donate, send me an email and I will hook you up. (Not allowed to post the link on bf.)
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Old 05-30-22, 05:21 PM
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Doug, thank you for your update. I have admired your posts on framebuilding in ukraine. What an awful situation. I can't imagine Putin will get away with it... but who knows.
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Old 06-02-22, 06:35 AM
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I heard from Yuriy this week. He is the guy I met 22 years ago to help us with our bicycle project. The Russians did break into the workshop. Fortunately they only took general tools and not bicycle repair or frame building tools. Well at least as much as he could tell. They couldn't get into the storage shed next to the workshop where Yuriy had placed our most expensive fixtures. After hiding in his root cellar for 2 weeks, he escaped and went west where he has relatives. Not long ago he went back to the Bucha area where he lived and the workshop is located to give me a report. He is now back in west Ukraine. Here is what he wrote:

Hello Doug!
The Russian military was expelled from Bucha, Irpen and Vorzel about one month ago. In these cities, a lot of buildings and private houses were destroyed and burned. Thousands of Ukrainian people were shot and killed. Our house was not destroyed by shells and did not burn down. The windows are broken, all the locks are broken, the doors to my workshop are broken. Thieves broke into the house, garage and workshop. Many things have been stolen. Stolen items can eventually be bought. I closed the broken windows in the house with wooden shields. I replaced a broken door in my home workshop with a new one. I bought new locks for the garage instead of the broken ones.

Now information on the bike workshop at the UGI.
The locks on the door to the bike shop are smashed and broken. When our people arrived, the door was open. I asked them on the phone to somehow close the door before my arrival. They closed the broken left window and put a small padlock on the door. I found that the following things were stolen: a large vice, a drill, clamps, all drills and taps, all open-end wrenches from 7 to 17 mm, some M5 and M6 bolts and nuts, a grinder, a pump and more. Maybe something else was stolen, but I haven't seen it yet. I put two new padlocks on the door container.
The three locks on the red container were broken. The doors were open, but nothing was stolen. Two of your and Tim's bikes, which we made for the pastors, were borrowed by two UGI employees. I gave them permission over the phone. I put three new locks on this container. I bought all the new locks for the house and the bike shop in Chernivtsi. Shops in Vorzel and Bucha are closed and there is no place to buy locks yet.
Good news: our gray trailer could not be opened! The photo shows traces of shots. But the thieves could not open the door. Therefore, everything was preserved in this trailer. I transferred everything of value to this trailer so that everything would be preserved until my return.
We will stay in Chernivtsi for some time, until it becomes clear that the Russian military will not return to Vorzel, Bucha and Irpen. When the shops open, then it will be possible to return home. For example: the large store known to you in Bucha MODUL was smashed, bombed and burned down completely along its entire length. Everything is destroyed. And so are most stores. Let's wait here in Chernivtsi so that we don't have to run away from Vorzel again.
While all.
Thank you very much for your support and participation in my needs, which the war has brought us.
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