NV interviews Mykolaiv's charismatic governor Vitaliy Kim

11 March 2022, 04:22 PM
Author: Nataliia Rop

The head of Mykolaiv Regional Military Administration, Vitaliy Kim, has described the city of Mykolaiv as “an ant colony,” where everyone is industriously toiling away to bring the eventual victory in the war closer.

Mykolaiv Oblast was one of the first Ukrainian regions to take the brunt of Russia’s initial offensive. Ukraine’s Armed Forces have been successfully repelling the enemy here for over two weeks, while the charismatic and upbeat Kim has become a veritable social media celebrity.

NV interviewed the oblast governor about the situation in his province, and how the residents of Mykolaiv are helping Ukraine’s defense.

Video of day

NV: What’s the current (March 10) security situation in Mykolaiv oblast?

Kim: Today’s better than yesterday. We made some advances, taken a couple villages that were left without power. Power lines were repaired, the areas – secured.

NV: How are food supplies looking?

Kim: Everything’s fine, our stores are open. Not quite what we’re used to during peacetime – with Norwegian salmon, etc. – but we have enough food. We’re getting humanitarian aid from Kyiv, volunteer organizations, and other countries, and building up (food) stockpiles.

NV: You’ve reported hundreds of Russian vehicles destroyed in the oblast. What’s the number at today?

Kim: More than before. They (destroyed and disabled military vehicles) are currently in areas beyond our control, so I can’t give a more precise estimate. Some of the destroyed pieces of equipment have since been repaired and put to good use by our forces, others were scrapped for parts. Those that were (destroyed) in recent days were the work of (our) long-range artillery, and we don’t see them. It’s clear that they were destroyed, but we can’t count them precisely.

NV: For two weeks, Mykolaiv has mounted an effective defense. What’s the key to this success?

Kim: The President (Volodymyr Zelensky) is crucial in this: he inspires us all and our soldiers whose job it is (to defend us). The Territorial Defense Force and the police are also very involved – they are the first to arrive at emerging hot spots.

NV: What’s the role of Major General Dmytro Marchenko?

Kim: As a military man, he facilitated all this work and coordination between various military units.

NV: How involved are regular Mykolaiv residents in the city’s defense?

Kim: 100% (involved). Everyone does their job. Restaurants are feeding checkpoint guards and the military, volunteers deal with medical supplies and donate blood. They have established and improved defensive structures, and so on. Our city is like an ant colony – everyone knows exactly what to do.

NV: Thanks to your positive and soothing video updates on the situation in and around Mykolaiv, you’ve become very popular among Ukrainians. Why did you choose this type of communication?

Kim: Because my press secretary had to leave and deal with family matters, so I had no one else to convey this information. I wanted the updates to be relevant and quickly reach the people, so it all turned out this way.

NV: What keeps you so confident and upbeat?

Kim: My conviction. That’s the way I am. I’m an optimist and I feel the need to always win. Once I start something, I need to emerge victorious.

NV: The internet is full of memes about you; girls confess to having a crush on you. What’s your reaction to this adoration?

Kim: I don’t have time for this, and I love my wife.

NV: What’s her reaction, then?

Kim: She’s dealing with completely different things. She doesn’t know what to do with this.

NV: Will you continue to communicate with Mykolaiv locals in the same way after the victory?

Kim: I was doing it even before (the war): drove around without bodyguards, behaved the same way at work. It just wasn’t this visible. Due to the war, (my conduct) has become much more well-known. Residents of Mykolaiv and the oblast know perfectly well that I have always communicated openly.

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