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Caught in the crossfire: Local man recalls violence in Ukraine

Robert Cooper is covering the conflict for the National Press
Posted at 6:58 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 15:48:15-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi entrepreneur recalls a chilling fourteen hours following a group of militants in Ukraine.

“If there is any question that the Russians are invading Ukraine, that should be put to rest because they were there,” Robert Cooper said. “I saw them first-hand and they shot at me.”

Cooper, a Ray High School graduate, once owned The Gold Fish downtown.

While his family remains in Corpus Christi, he said he was hired by the National Press to cover the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has worked as a freelance photojournalist.

In a Friday morning Zoom call with KRIS 6 News Anchor, Katia Uriarte, Cooper said he’s been traveling with the Third Strike.

“A group of 14 commandos responsible for 25 percent of Russian casualties in 2021. Hard, hard guys,” Cooper said. “They're getting some international equipment. I can’t say for certain who it’s coming from but it’s definitely not old soviet gear.”

Cooper said on their way driving from Mariupole to Odessa, in southern Ukraine, they got caught directly in a large battle known as the battle of Kherson.

“As we are passing through, the firefight begins, Russians launch an attack,” Cooper said. “Everybody files out and we are getting shot at. We park under a overpass.”

He said he and a CNN journalist ran into the back of an 18-wheeler for safety and the firefight moved right over them.

“When Will and I crawled back into the back of that truck and made a break for the house, so we had to break into a house,” Cooper said.

"We also made a video,” the other journalist said in the background of the zoom call. “We said goodbye to our families.”

“Yes we made goodbye videos,” Cooper said.

They were thankfully able to move away from the violence.

The last time KRIS 6 spoke with Cooper on Friday morning, he said he was getting to Moldova and was trying to see if he could make it to Budapest. He said the air space in Moldova was shut down.