Last month, residents lined up at a water distribution point in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — Monday emerged from a 54 hour lockdown during which police went door to door in order to locate collaborators who officials say are responsible for helping Russian forces identify targets for the rockets that pound the city daily. Vitaliy Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, declared the dramatic operation that sealed the city, preventing residents from entering or leaving a city. He said five people were arrested and a number of weapons and communications devices were confiscated, though he didn't give any details. I m sorry for the discomfort over the weekend, but it was worth it, Mr. Kim said in a video message Monday morning.
According to Mr. Kim, the need to root out collaborators has been particularly acute in Mykolaiv. Few places in Ukraine have experienced the kind of sustained barrage of Russian fire as this city on the southern coast. There have been barely two dozen days since the war began nearly five and a half months ago.
In a screenshot of a cell phone text exchange whose authenticity could not be confirmed, someone with the screen name Mykolaiv People s Republic describes an area of town as full of military equipment and soldiers. The answer is to send the coordinates. Mykolaiv is a Russian-speaking city with a pre-war population of nearly 500,000. It borders the Kherson region, which is largely occupied by Russian forces. The region is now the site of daily skirmishes as Ukrainian forces attempt to push Russian troops eastward over the Dnipro River. Part of Ukraine's defensive lines run through the Mykolaiv region, and Ukrainian troops often come to the city on rotation or for a break from the front lines. Russian forces have hit it with long-range rockets, despite the fact that most Russian artillery can't reach Mykolaiv. For weeks, Mr. Kim warned of the threats posed by collaborators, citizens sympathetic to Russia who aid its military by providing information and Ukrainian troop locations. He has released few details and it is not clear how pernicious the problem is. Before the weekend s lockdown, only a handful of people had been arrested on suspicion of aiding the enemy. Last month, the immensely popular Mr. Kim posted a message to his roughly 677,000 followers on Telegram, offering a $100 bounty for any information leading to the arrest of a collaborator. The lock down over the weekend was part of that effort.