MARIUPOL, Ukraine — She is a tall, confident woman with piercing blue eyes and a big smile, and Galina Odnorog has become a celebrity volunteer on Ukraine’s front lines outside the threatened city of Mariupol. In the last three months of almost daily shelling, she dug trenches, evacuated civilians from Russian-backed rebel territories, organized street protests of thousands of people against rumored demilitarization of besieged Mariupol and provided soldiers manning artillery positions just about everything they could ask for.
The map of her daily car trips covers the entire front, including mined roads and villages where Mariupol taxi drivers often refuse to go: Novoselovka, Mirnoye, Granitnoye, Ignatevka and especially the constantly
Kiev’s military men trust Odnorog. “She is the one who can make the difference,” Donbas Battalion Commander “Gal” told The Daily Beast, nodding toward Galina in the front seat as we drove. The battalion vehicle was approaching half-destroyed villages where people live in daily fear of new attacks. In these little corners of hell they make less than $100 a month and know they have no option for escape on the day the war comes to their doorstep.