Live Updates: Ukrainian Grain Has Not Gone to Countries Most in Need

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Mykolaiv, Ukraine – The city of Mykolaiv emerged Monday from a 54-hour lockdown during which officials went door-to-door in search of allies who officials say help the Russian military identify targets for the rockets that attack the city daily.

The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, declared the dramatic operation – which sealed off the city, preventing residents from entering or leaving – a success. He said five people were arrested and several weapons and communication devices were seized, though he did not give any details.

“I apologize for the inconvenience over the weekend, but it was worth it,” Mr Kim said in a video message on Monday morning.

“No Russian-speaking people were shot,” he added.

Mr. According to Kim, the need to root out allies at Mykolive is particularly acute. Few places in Ukraine have experienced a sustained barrage of Russian fire like this city on the southern coast. Since the war began nearly five and a half months ago, barely two dozen days have passed without violence.

The attacks destroyed about 1,200 homes and apartment buildings, according to the city’s mayor, Oleksandr Senkevich. Since the start of the war, he said, Russian attacks have killed 132 residents and wounded more than 619.

During the demolition, some residents said that despite the inconvenience, checks for allies provided some relief.

“It calmed us down a bit,” said Valentina Hontarenko, 74, at a kiosk selling kvas, a popular drink made from fermented bread. “They asked about our relations with Russia. We have nothing.”

During the lockdown, authorities went door-to-door and stopped people on the street, checking their documents and scrolling through their phones looking for evidence that they were coordinating with the Russian military. A video of the operation released by local authorities shows officers checking text messages on computers and phones.

In one screenshot of a cellphone text exchange — the authenticity of which could not be confirmed — someone with the screen name Mykolive People’s Republic described an area of ​​the city filled with military equipment and soldiers. Answer: “Send coordinates.”

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Mykolaiv is a largely Russian-speaking city with a pre-war population of about 500,000. It borders the Kherson region, which is largely occupied by Russian forces. That region is now the site of daily skirmishes as Ukrainian forces launch a counteroffensive aimed at pushing Russian forces east to the Dnipro River. Part of Ukraine’s defensive lines pass through the Mykolaiv region, and Ukrainian troops often come to the city on a walk or rest from the front lines.

Although most Russian artillery cannot reach Mykolayiv, the Russian army has hit it with long-range rockets.

For weeks, Mr. Kim has warned of the dangers of allies, civilians sympathetic to Russia, aiding his military by providing information and locations of Ukrainian forces. But he has released few details, and it is unclear how serious the problem is. Before this weekend’s lockdown, only a handful of people were arrested on suspicion of aiding the enemy.

Last month, the hugely popular Mr. Kim posted a message to his approximately 677,000 followers on Telegram offering a $100 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the accomplice.

“Help save Mykolaiv from rocket attacks,” he wrote.

The weekend lockdown was part of that effort.

Residents of Mykolayiv have described the law enforcement investigations as nonconfrontational, though they may anger some civil libertarians in the West.

“It was not very comfortable,” said Yelena, a 35-year-old woman who was queuing with her husband to get water from a truck. “They came and checked everything – passports, telephones. They saw who lived where.”

She added: “If everything is fine, what’s there to be afraid of?”

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