Survive with the Russians at the gates

Cars struggle across the secondary road between Kostyantinivka and Bakhmut. They are 27 kilometers away directly from the heart of a battle that began in the summer and in which the enemy advanced meter after meter into the heart of Donbass. Fog is a wall, it looks like snow that you have to shovel out to get through. This country road is now the highway used by the Army and Volunteers to reach the epicenter of the battle. The further east you go, the fewer cars you see and the more destruction you see. When there are no more cars, the road becomes eternal and every kilometer takes forever. The fog darkens as it hits the black earth of chernozems, that fertile soil ideal for growing grain that rebelled against last year’s abandonment, invades the little asphalt that remains on the road and turns it into a quagmire.

After 20 kilometers you have to stop at Chasev YarIt is a municipality of the Bakhmut region and currently represents the maximum area controlled by Ukraine. Hence only the weapons that never stop roaring speak. The Ukrainians hit the enemy hard from this point and every artillery strike shook the earth. Do not stop. Do not stop.

The press is not welcome A savage neighbor prepares skewers of pork on a makeshift grill in the entrance of a half-ruined building. He steps towards the newcomers, kitchen knife in hand, barely keeping his balance on the ice. “A few days ago some photographers came and then the Russians attacked us and I lost my car. Get out of here you bastards! There is a fear of speaking out, a fear of the current fighting and possible future Russian retaliation if Ukrainian forces lose more ground. change hands It can occur at any time.

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Here the war reports from the Ministry of Defense are not followed because they have first-hand information. They are the heroes of this fight for Dombas. On another day, the General Staff noted that Russia “continues to attack the positions of Ukrainian forces” around Bakhmut, but denied that the Russian mercenary group Wagner had captured Yehdana, northwest of the city. According to Serhiy Shrivaty, spokesman for the Group of Forces in Eastern Ukraine, “battles are taking place in seven points adjacent to Bakhmut.” Points like Chasiv Yar.

Meeting point

Horror can happen with the few residents left in this part of Chasiv Yar and you have to go to the deserted streets of this town, which had a pre-war population of 20,000, to find some warmth. he Punkt Nezlamnosti (assembly point) It has become a place to go for those who have decided to ignore the evacuation call issued by the authorities. Here they can go online, and when there is petrol for the generator, charge their mobile phones and cook thanks to a wood stove with a grate on top.

Lubov cooks potatoes, makes soup and tea Above the fireplace presides over Punkt Nezlamnosti. This old library has become a point of life, a place where neighbors see each other’s faces, greet each other and celebrate that they are still alive for another day. “I dream of cooking borscht (beetroot soup) and goulash (meat broth) or preparing desserts, but now we can only cook potatoes, there is nothing else,” says Lubov as Ludmila shines a flashlight on a potato casserole. The two friends will then share a menu at one of the tables The long ones are in the middle, but they wait for some petrol to come to the generator so they can do it under the light of the light bulb. Then, back home, they’ll go back to live the night. “My grandson is called Arthur and he’s 8 years old. It’s been a long time since he’s dated his parents. He’s I was born here, my husband was born here, and we will not leave. Ludmila believes that it is better to die on your land than starve to death as a refugee in the middle of nowhere.

Lyudmila Wollov at Punkt Nezlamnosti

M. Aistran

The icy landscape of the street melts due to the warming effect of the logs. Only bangs pass through the lined windows. “We don’t care much at this point if they’re fired upon by our artillery or if they’re Russians, we live with fear ingrained in our bodies and it’s impossible to get used to,” admits Vladimir, an ex. A worker at the local refractory material factory, a factory that “was the largest in the Soviet Union,” he recalls with pride.

Time in Punkt Nezlamnosti is an arc in life marked by death. Outside, war is knocking on the doors of Bakhmut. Artillery does not stop. Do not stop.

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