July 3, 2022

Westside People

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Press in Ukraine | Enter the heart of resistance in Donbass

From the beginning of the second phase of the conflict, Lisitshansk in Donbass was very close to the front line. One of the last pockets of protest inhabited by isolated residents from the world is in the basement of a half-destroyed school. Our partner went there.

Released at 6:00 p.m.

Hugo Ladicier
Special collaboration

(Lyssytchansk) “We want everything to stop”

Appearance can be deceiving. About ten kilometers before Lycitansk, the bumpy road between Artemievsk and Berestov looks very quiet. It’s early spring, the weather is fine, and on both sides of the road, tractors plow the land as if nothing had happened.

These people take great risks. But they will not stop until the Russians force them. Take care of their land, feed the country, this is their own war Oleksi, a volunteer driver from Slovenia, observes the military carrying equipment to the front.

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

The car broke down in Lysychansk

The road is more dangerous than it appears. A few more kilometers away, in the opposite direction, a procession of ambulances and cars with broken windows goes at full speed. Also, burnt remnants of cars block the road. That’s all that’s left Of one Checkpoint Ukrainian, Was targeted by the Russian military a few days ago. On the way back, a few hours later, the cars catch fire again. “The bomber struck again within an hour,” one soldier confirmed.

Since the beginning of the second phase of the conflict, it has been similar to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kiev region and then the retreat into the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been heavily re-deployed in the Donbass, which has become “hell”. In a video message broadcast overnight from Thursday to Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky.

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

Children near a shelter in Lyciansansk

The last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the Luhansk region is being created by the industrial cities of Lisztzynsk and Sverdlovsk. A decisive step for the Russians ahead of the next military mission that could create the cities of Sloviansk and Gramadorsk.

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“As before”

Near the old garage, which was completely destroyed, a few residents are cycling despite heavy bombings in the twin city of Siverodonetsk. In the distance, dense black smoke billows from the Lisitsansk oil refinery, which is constantly being targeted by Russian artillery in mid-April.

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

Of the 100,000 people in Lisztzhansk before the war, only 8,000 to 10,000 lived.

Today, only 8,000 to 10,000 of the city’s 100,000 people lived before the war. Fifty-year-old Tatiana visibly exclaimed: “Today I listened to Russian radio, and it only passes here. They say Toshkivka was taken by the Russians, is that true? Do you know if I can be in town today? She asks.

We do not want to live under occupation. I do not want the Russians to come here. I would rather live without water and electricity than they do here.

Tatiana, a resident of Lyciansk

Tatiana hurriedly wrote down some phone numbers on a soldier’s hand. These citizens, who have been isolated from the world for weeks, are the only way to warn their loved ones that they are still alive. Water, electricity, petrol are all commodities Almost impossible to find in Lysytchansk.

A little further on, Vera, 53, uses the silence to get some fresh air in front of her building. “I had a stroke and I want the clinics to reopen. I wanted to leave town for a while, but I could not walk. The left side of my body was paralyzed by my accident. We want all of this to stop. Peace, peace …”

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Peace, alas, not for now, if we trust the warriors fighting in the suburbs of Lysitsansk.

“The situation is difficult”

The previous day, the village of Rubishne, twenty kilometers away, had fallen into the hands of the Russians. “We no longer have the strength to keep the city. We had to fall back to the Siverodonets. The danger is that they will continue to advance and they will surround us,” explains Roman, a tired officer who appeared the previous day during the final attack on Rubisne.

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

The soldier is nicknamed “Spartak”, in the center

“Spartak” commands a battalion of 350 men. He notes the lack of transportation equipment, maneuverable vehicles such as vans, many of which were destroyed by Russian artillery. “Currently the situation is difficult. The enemy is bombing everything they can. They attack from the west, north and east. We protect the banks of the Donets River. He explains.

We still control Lysytchansk and Sievierodonetsk. The goal is not to let the enemy pass and not to turn around.

Spartak, commander of the Ukrainian battalion

According to him, the Russian army loses about fifty fighters every day on this front. He is careful not to mention the losses on the Ukrainian side. “The enemy uses tactics like Mariup. He balances the entire infrastructure with artillery. We are forced to retreat to new frontiers to defend ourselves.”

Buried in a basement

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

The upper floors of the school were bombed.

Beyond a few blocks, a hundred residents of all ages are in a very precarious position on the wet foundation of a school. Some have fled their homes due to the bombings since the end of March and have taken refuge here. Without electricity or water, they light each other with mobile phones or candles.

Photo by Hugo Lattice, Special Collaboration

Without electricity or running water, refugees light themselves with mobile phones or candles.

Thin cushions are installed on wooden shelves. A few drops of pink are scattered here, and are a reminder that sunny days are coming again. While a few children were playing in front of the establishment, a group of elderly women were chatting near the fire. The upper bouts featured two cutaways, for easier access to the higher frets.

“It simply came to our notice then [Journée internationale des femmes], We could not have imagined anything worse than this! Manages to make fun of one of the residents. “Initially, we regularly received food and humanitarian assistance. But in recent weeks, the fighting has become more violent and there are not many people to help us, ”said Tatiana, 50. “This is war, what can we do about it?” ⁇

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