Andrea loves to design and plan events. She especially loves small events, garden parties, and weddings.
Our beloved Ukraine was invaded by the Russian army. We, the women and children of our country, were forced to seek shelter in neighboring countries in order to stay alive. At this time, our valiant men and foreign soldiers continue to defend our country.
— Irene, Angellure Owner
Boutique Owner and Close Friends and Family Flee for Their Lives
I received an email this morning that has stuck with me all day. It was from the boutique where I bought my wedding dress. The shop, Angellure, is located in Odessa, Ukraine. (Odessa is sometimes spelled Odesa.) Experts on the war believe Russia is planning an attack to try to take over the city.
The email let me know that the store is temporarily closed, and it is seeking aid for family and refugee friends. The email, in part, reads:
"A bloody war came into the life of my family and the entire Ukrainian people. Now I have to ask you for your help and support to my family, my refugee friends. I will be grateful for any help.
Pray for us. Pray for Ukraine. We will win because together we are strong.
The shop specializes in wedding dresses, accessories, and boudoir gowns. On Etsy, the owner posted her story and hinted at what her life is like now. I intend to stay in touch with her. I'm hoping she'll be able to prevail despite the setbacks to her livelihood. I also want to inform others of this developing situation.
Angellure is a small business with a huge heart. I'm bringing attention to the boutique so people who would like to help can send money and other support.
I bought my dress, veil, and hairpins from Angellure in 2020. I remember how mesmerized I was by one of the dresses. I kept looking at pictures of it—I knew it was the right gown for me.
The pandemic made my wedding very complicated—2020 was the peak of pandemic restrictions where I lived. I wasn't sure if my fiancé and I would have a wedding or if we'd just end up eloping.
Irene and her store were amazing to work with. She was easy to get in contact with, and when the dress arrived, I was impressed at how precisely it fit. I couldn't believe I didn't need alterations.
Angellure sells beautiful, handmade, and affordable items for brides. The pieces are picture-perfect.
I want you to know there is a lot of care put into these items, but the more important part is that there are real people who work for the boutique, and they're suffering right now. The war that's taking place is preventing good people, like at Angellure, from doing the things they love. Ukrainians are facing instability and threats to their lives.
On the Etsy listing, Irene notes that on February 24th, 2022, she and her son woke up to loud explosions. On that day, Ukraine was invaded by the Russian army. Irene lost her way of life, her home, almost everything.
She goes on to write that women and children have sought shelter in other countries while men and foreign soldiers work to defend Ukraine. Her family and friends are some of the people who left behind their homes for safety. She notes that she is worried about the violence taking place in her homeland, from bombs to bullets.
The store owner also mentioned where her family has gone: "We had to escape to Moldova and stay at the refugees camp."
The Etsy shop has temporarily closed. It has set up a method for donations. If you would like to learn more about Angellure and how you can help, here is a link to the shop.
We are in war for our freedom and peace on our lands. Russia keeps attacking our cities.
— Irene, Angellure Owner
The Outlook in Odessa
Right now Ukrainians are fleeing for their lives. Odessa residents are headed to the Moldovan border. More than one million people live in the city; it is the third-largest city in Ukraine. The port city has faced some Russian attacks since the start of the war, but there hasn't been a large-scale ground or sea combat.
Russian attack ships have been spotted on the Black Sea. Odessa is Ukraine's best access to the sea. It appears Russian forces are working toward invading the city. Russia has taken over Kherson, another port city 125 miles east of Odessa. Troops have arrived in Mykolaiv, which is about 80 miles east.
If Russia were to capture Odessa, it would be a big blow to Ukraine. The capture would cut Kyiv off from the sea. So far Russian forces haven't had an easy time getting what they want in the war, but they are aggressive and persistent.
Ukraine has prevented Russian forces from taking over a swing bridge in the Southern Bug, the best route to reach Odessa. On Sunday, March 6, 2022, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced Russia is planning to attack the city.
Civilians and troops have worked to protect the port city ahead of an attack. Barbed wire is in place as well as armored vehicles. Buildings are protected by sandbags and tires.
Experts say there has been significant progress by Russians to increase their presence on the Black Sea. Russians have occupied some Ukrainian ports. The ports along the sea account for 85% of Ukraine's grain exports—disruptions to wheat trade could be a substantial problem for the global food supply.
Disrupting the grain supply could be a way for Putin to counter the economic strategies the rest of the world has used to push back on the war. We're already seeing a spike in wheat prices; there is hope that this won't be a long-term situation.
The Black Sea and what NATO can do in the area is very complicated. The treaties in place and other rules make it difficult to discern a clear strategy.
Ukrainians are suffering during all this upheaval. Thousands of towns have had their utilities cut. Curfews are in place, shops are closed, and traffic jams make it near impossible to get anywhere or escape. The situation isn't great, but Ukraine has defended itself well so far.
Civilians are learning how to use weapons, and they're filing up sandbags. There is a lot of support globally for Ukraine to protect itself from Russian oppression. Experts say Russia underestimated Ukraine's desire and capacity to resist.
- "Lithuanian Minister of National Defense". Twitter. 10 March 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
- Parker, Benjamin. "Why NATO Can’t Move Into the Black Sea and Save Odessa", The Bulwark, 8 Mar. 2022.
- "Putin announces 'special military operation' in Ukraine". Politico. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
- "Ukrainian defenders repelled attack on Mykolaiv city, fighting continues on outskirts". Ukrinform. 4 March 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
- "Ukrainians fight to hold the port city of Odessa as exodus out of the country persists", PBS News Hour, 7 Mar. 2022.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence