Russia’s assault hasn’t reached Mr. Tulin’s factory in Dnipro, one of Ukraine’s largest cities and located near the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine that Russia claims. But Dnipro has been hit by rockets, and a strike on March 11 destroyed a shoe factory there.
Mr. Tulin, who is 32 years old, spends as much time as possible at the factory while his partner, Darya, stays home with their infant son, who was born on the morning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. When air raid sirens sound, the family rushes to the basement of their apartment building to shelter with neighbors. Mr. Tulin said he only finds peace during the first seconds of each day when he wakes. “Until you remember that this is a war,” he said.
Before the invasion, Mr. Tulin’s factory and a sister facility across town produced more than 10 million boxes a month to carry food, drinks, machinery parts, consumer goods and electronics across domestic and international markets.
Production today is down about 80%, Mr. Tulin said. Most customers have stopped operating in and around occupied, encircled or threatened cities. Some local businesses cling on, moving meat, cereal, eggs and bread to local stores, but foreign markets are largely cut off.
Mr. Tulin said he has about one month’s supply of raw materials. His company consumes about 2,000 to 3,000 metric tons of paper a month as well as glue and tape. Some of his workers drive to two nearby paper mills for supplies, “but the road to them is still a little dangerous,” Mr. Tulin said. He expects to lose water or power any day. But for now, he can make it work.
“It is difficult to predict how long it will last,” he said. “How many rockets will be launched tomorrow? Where will they hit? How many gas stations will be destroyed? Electricity plants? How far Russians will advance tomorrow?”
He says he will keep the factories running until he can no longer operate. Each new order of boxes is an achievement.
“We understand that somewhere another company started working, and we feel a small victory,” he said.