Red Hook Daily Catch

As Russians Approach His Town, “The Cat Must Still Be Fed,” Our Ukrainian Correspondent Reports

Dora, the cat Kuljuk Pavel walked 20 miles round-trip to feed on Wednesday (photo by Kuljuk Pavel).

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, our Daily Catch data correspondent in Ukraine, Pavel Kuljuk, took a visit to a small home he owns on the southwestern outskirts of Kramatorsk, the town of about 250,000 people where he lives in Eastern Ukraine with his wife Svetlana. Pavel needed to check on the house and to feed the cat. On his journey, he took photos for The Daily Catch. He loves this little village and reports, “In the summer, if I am alive, I will move to Malataranovka.” Kuljuk also shared that he is enthused to have an audience in America who is reading about the experiences he is enduring with his country under assault.

Below is his report:

“Today, I went to the Malataranovka settlement. This village is nearby to Kramatorsk. I have a small house hit. My cat, Dora, lives in the house. This is a guard cat. The cat sleeps on the windowsills. When people see a cat in the window, they think that someone lives in the house. Therefore, they will not try to enter the house. There are no valuables in the house. But I still don’t want anyone to go there. Every three to four days, I go to feed the cat and water the flowers. It’s 20 miles round-trip and it takes about four hours on foot, which is how I reach this house. I love these walks. But it takes a lot of time for this. Therefore, on the day when I go to Malataranovka, I do not go in for sports, and I wake up early. So it was today. On the way, I took photos for the readers of The Daily Catch.

Meat, cheese and kiwi are plentiful because they may only be purchased with cash, which is scarce now in Eastern Ukraine (photo by Pavel Kuljuk).

“Dora was delighted to see me. She likes to jump on my shoulder and sit there when I walk around the house. I gave her a raw chicken egg, 200 grams of raw meat, 150 grams of sour cream, and some dry food. This food will last her until my next visit. Sveta scolds me for keeping a cat alone in the house. I agree. Now the animal is having a hard time alone. But it is necessary. The house may be damaged. We can’t take Dora with us either. We already have four cats. They fight her. In the summer, if I am alive, I will move to Malataranovka. The cat will spend more time with us.

“After petting the cat, I returned home to Kramatorsk. I had to buy 1 kilogram of sugar, quail food (wheat groats), toilet paper, matches, and yeast. I went to all the small shops that I found on my way. Six stores did not accept a bank card. And I didn’t have cash. So I couldn’t shop. Eventually, I reached Kramatorsk.

“There, I found the first store that accepted cashless payments. This store only had sugar and quail food. Then I went on. I found toilet paper in another store. A small roll costs 30 cents. Before the war, it cost half as much. Other products have risen in price by 25 to 35 percent.

“For cash, you can buy products at the following prices:

  • Cheese: $2.30 to $3.80 per pound.
  • Cakes: $1 to $2.40 per pound.
  • Meat: $1.36 to $3.50 per pound.

“Now, only very expensive goods are available in stores. For example, among fruits, there are only kiwi and avocado. There are no dairy products. This is because people don’t have cash with which to pay for them. And that’s what merchants require.

“There is only expensive coconut juice at $3.50 per liter (a liter is almost equivalent to a quart). You can not buy meat, eggs, butter, sausages by bank transfer. But if you have cash, you can buy.

A view of the road to Malataranovka that our consultant walked Wednesday to feed his cat (photo by Pavel Kuljuk).

“I couldn’t buy matches and yeast. These items are not available in stores. It is also difficult to buy any product with a bank card. Since I managed to stock up on food several days ago, there is no problem. But people who have not been able to stock up on food are probably in a difficult position. The government is asking shopkeepers to accept cashless payments. But only large retail chains do this. Small shops do not accept cashless payments. Small private businesses have stopped listening to the government.

“Our friend, Anna, works as a cashier. She says that the owners of small shops pay their suppliers for goods in cash. However, you must pay immediately. I haven’t seen a single working bank today. There is also no money in ATMs. Money has become useless. Sarcasm. But communism has already arrived.

“My excursion took almost six hours. There were no shellings or air raids during the trip. I did not see military equipment. There were few people. Mostly people go shopping in search of food. There are no drunk people on the street. Garbage is taken out on time. One car drove past me. The car stopped. There was a boy and a girl in the car. They offered to give me a ride. But I refused and thanked them. I don’t get into cars with strangers. Besides, walking is a common thing for me.

“The walk did not tire me much, since there were no heavy bags. The curfew began two hours after my return home. I had time to eat and wash. During the curfew, turning on the light is not. Therefore, it is not possible to do ordinary things.

Pavel Kuljuk lives in Kramatorsk, marked on this map by a yellow star (map by with Daily Catch adjustments).

“In the evening, war news began to arrive. The Ukrainian authorities reported that the Russians had occupied Balakliya. These are cities halfway between Kharkiv and Kramatorsk. Between Kramatorsk and Balakliya is 120 miles. Then the Russians reported that they had occupied Krasny Liman. This city is 40 miles from Kramatorsk. I checked this information but haven’t found confirmation yet. If the Russians are really in Krasny Liman, then the fighting in Kramatorsk may begin tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. The city is trying to make defensive structures. But this is not as much as needed for a serious fight. This gives hope that the fights will not last long. Damage may be small. We very much hope that the war will be over before the Russians approach Kramatorsk.

“Now in Kramatorsk, it is 11 pm. It started to rain a little. I looked out the window. I saw a light in the window of a neighboring house. It puts me in a good mood. Before the war, the light in a neighbor’s window didn’t matter that much. War changes the meaning of many simple things.

“Have a peaceful night.”

Read all of Pavel Kuljuk’s reports from Eastern Ukraine.

5 responses to “As Russians Approach His Town, “The Cat Must Still Be Fed,” Our Ukrainian Correspondent Reports”

  1. Damien Lloyd Payne says:

    All proceeds from Saturday March 5th concert goes to Ukrainian relief efforts – see and help show support for Ukraine. Thanks.

  2. Claire Horst says:

    If he is still alive, he will move to the house…..God please keep him in your arms.
    Keeping you in my prayers Kuljuk.

  3. SUSAN SIE says:

    This column has touched me deeply. Thank you for writing this and hope you stay safe. The last paragraph was so simple and beautiful, it had me in tears.

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