Friday, April 19, 2024

A housing area in Kyiv is damaged by remains of a rocket March 18 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This image was retouched to remove a watermark. (Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons)


The Russian guns are lined up along the ridge we call Arlington Heights. From that site, all of the Boston metropolitan area is laid out before them. Everything is in view: Boston, Winthrop, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Belmont, Allston, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Milton and Quincy.

It is a scene of utmost desolation. Cambridge’s 22-story Rindge Towers are low piles of red-brick rubble. The concrete domes of MIT are saucered. The Hancock Tower, one of the first structures attacked, lies in rubble and broken glass. Thousands were killed by the flying shards. The Prudential building collapsed onto its surrounding mall, trapping many in the green line beneath.

Subways are often a source of safety, but Alewife station is badly damaged and offers little protection, as its lines are near the surface. Best protection is in the deeply dug Porter Square station, which is 100 feet below the surface. The survivors huddle in the depths; they emerge occasionally to scavenge for food in the ruined shops, restaurants and supermarket in the area. Water is no problem, as broken pipes leak continuously.

The gold dome of the State House still stands proudly over the city. Russian gunners evidently decided that it is a good reference point for guiding drones and missiles. Standing too are the grand hotels bordering the Public Gardens. Russian generals had earmarked these for their headquarters once the city fell or was surrendered to them. Around them, Back Bay is flattened, the carefully laid out grid of streets no longer discernible in the piles of debris.

But the fight continues. U.S. artillery still occupies the redoubts on Dorchester heights and engages in long-range duels with their Russian counterparts. Students from local colleges formed impromptu groups that infiltrate the Russian line, relaying back information about troop movements and occasionally blowing up equipment and the vital roads that the Russians use to resupply their troops.

We wait for outside help. Would that help ever come?

Remember, that is Ukraine today.

Martin G. Evans is a writer in Cambridge whose contributions on managerial and political issues have appeared in The Boston Globe, Cambridge Chronicle, MetroWest Daily News, Providence Journal, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail of Toronto, National Post of Toronto and the former Toronto Financial Post. He has taught at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, London Business School, George Mason University, Rutgers University and the Harvard School of Public Health.