At least eight people, including a mother and a child, were killed in the Russian missile attack that day in the port city, according to officials and media reports.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Indonesia, Vasyl Hamianin said Odesa, as the main Black Sea port of Ukraine has always been a target. “Russia as a terrorist state does everything it can to destroy [the] global food security system, including [a] blockade of seaports and destruction of transport infrastructure,” said Hamianin.
Still, Maya, who hails from Indramayu in West Java, remains undeterred.
“I don’t want to leave my husband and my 85-year-old mother-in-law. My husband is a very good man. He takes good care of me and my children from a previous marriage in Indonesia. He supports them,” said Maya who has a son with her Ukrainian husband.
“I love my husband very much. I cannot live without him,” said Maya who has lived in Ukraine since 2017.
Maya met her husband in Hong Kong when she was working as a domestic helper and he was the captain of a cruise ship.
She said it was love at first sight, remembering their first meeting in great detail.
“I came out of from Hong Kong’s Central MTR station from exit A and saw him. He treats me and all women with respect. And he accepts me and gave me love at a time when I was heartbroken by my ex-husband who had left me to marry another woman,” said Maya.
To cope with the situation Maya refuses to look at pictures of dead bodies and the news. “I just rely on information from my husband,” said Maya.
There are no places left in Ukraine without an overt military threat, be it shelling or infiltration by sabotage groups, said the Ukrainian government on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said dozens of thousands of civilians have lost their lives in Ukrainian cities and towns attacked by Russian troops.
Fleeing bombs and heavy artillery
Titin, 39, fled to Odesa by road after her home in the town of Bashtanka in Mykolayiv city came under heavy artillery fire and bombings by the Russians.
“On March 12, planes dropped bombs from the skies just 600 metres from my home. My whole kitchen shook. I was so scared,” said Titin.
Titin, who hails from Jakarta, is a mother of two boys, aged three and seven. She refuses to leave her husband, who she met in the United States when they were both working at a casino on a cruise ship.
“I have no heart to leave him to return to Indonesia. My children can follow me back but not him,” said Titin who has lived in Ukraine since 2014. “We would only become refugees.”
“As long as there are safe places to run to in Ukraine, I will not leave. Every wife’s priority is her husband and children,” she said.
Ukraine has banned men aged 18-60 from leaving the country in anticipation that they may be called to fight.
“What we are afraid of is coming face-to-face with Russian soldiers. Life is now full of uncertainties. We spend our time waiting and waiting for the war to end,” said Titin.
Titin described Ukrainian men and women as being “very brave and stubborn.”
“They will never surrender. They will continue to fight for freedom.”
Pepi Apriyanti Utami, 35, a textile designer also refuses to leave her husband who is also 35.
“He is loyal, honest and supports me in everything that I do,” said Pepi.
She met her husband online when she was a student at the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 2007. After chatting for some 7 years, she left Indonesia for Ukraine to get married in 2013.
Her home in Ivankiv outside Kyiv was briefly occupied by Russian soldiers who looted and ransacked the place. “I don’t know what condition it is in right now,” she said adding that she has since relocated to western Ukraine.
She said he siblings back in Indonesia never “burden her” by asking her to return to home. In turn, she keeps them constantly updated of her situation so they are not left in the dark. “That is enough for them.”
Pepi is optimistic Ukraine has a future because it has freedom and democracy. “Unlike Russia which is heavily boycotted.”
Pro-Russians in Indonesia
All three women recounted how they have been bullied online by Indonesians who believe Moscow’s propaganda that Russians have not killed Ukrainians nor committed any atrocities.
They were surprised at how pro-Russian Indonesians celebrate the fighting in Ukraine.
“I was so shocked. Indonesians are very humane people. But seeing that Ukraine is being occupied like Palestine, they [internet users] seem to celebrate it like they are happy to see this humanitarian disaster,” said Pepi.
Some Indonesians who support the invasion of Ukraine applaud Russian President Vladimir Putin for standing up to the US. They also believe Moscow’s narrative that Ukraine has been oppressing pro-Russian speakers in the country.
Titin in Odesa said Russian-speaking Ukrainians face no discrimination and are accepted as part of society. “These pro-Russian Indonesians also makes me feel uncomfortable to return home”.
Maya from Odesa said: “There is war in Ukraine. For those who don’t know anything, it is better to be quiet. Your words are hurtful.”