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Dissatisfaction with new battle line for Donbass

#Dissatisfaction #battle #line #Donbass

The sustained rumble of Grad rockets can be heard as locals crowd around a van selling essentials like bread, sausages and gas for camping stoves in the eastern Ukrainian city of Siversk.

“Everyone is suffering. We’re all trying to survive here,” says Nina, a 64-year-old retiree who pushes a bicycle.

“There’s no (tap) water, no gas, no electricity… We’ve been living under fire for three months now. It’s like we’re in the Stone Age.”

The small town with mainly rural one-story houses on dusty streets has become a new frontier in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have abandoned the defense of the devastated city of Severodonetsk and now face a battle with Russians trying to encircle neighboring Lysyhansk.

Siwersk is the last major town on the road to Lysyhansk – albeit along badly damaged roads and under fire – and has Russian forces advancing from the north and south.

Locals, including many pensioners, complain that they feel let down by Kyiv.

“The city is really dead. And we’d like to live a little longer,” says Marina, 63, a retired factory worker.

“They’re just killing us. It’s dangerous everywhere,” says Nina.

“No one needs us, there is no help from the government.”

“Ukraine has forgotten us.”

“We don’t live, we survive,” interjects another woman, Polina, 60, in a bright purple tracksuit.

– ‘Batteries are trendy’ –

Military vehicles, including US Humvees and the latest generation US- and Soviet-style howitzers, tanks, relief trucks and ambulances, constantly drive back and forth through Siversk.

“They come all day,” says a police officer at a nearby checkpoint, adding that three vehicles with evacuees “passed through, mainly with old people, women and children – today there is movement”.

Dirty smoke billows from a new Ukrainian rocket launch as it drives to higher ground.

The Siwersk road transporter is a commercial operation that brings goods, including Polish groceries, from the city of Dnipro, some 300 km away, locals say.

“Of course it’s expensive,” says Nina.

There are also shipments of humanitarian aid – AFP journalists saw three Red Cross trucks pull up in front of community offices and unload boxes of groceries including sunflower oil, tea and buckwheat, and hygiene items like razors.

Municipality official Svitlana Severin asked Red Cross workers to bring more candles, matches and torches.

“Batteries are trendy,” she says. “Torches need electricity and we don’t know when we’ll get electricity”.

The crates are placed in a storage room. Severin says they distribute their alms to minimize crowds, with specific days each month for each social group.

– ‘Candles needed’ –

An elderly woman comes to the vans and indignantly asks why she can’t access the aid and asks for heart medicine.

There are also local initiatives.

Social worker Svetlana Meloshchenko says she and her helpers are distributing water in milk cans and have just distributed candles, rusks and detergent outside the local shop.

“You need candles, people spend nights in the basement,” she says.

“There are many young children, old people, disabled people,” she adds, as well as “many people with diabetes.”

“Hospitals are supplied with medicines, but not enough for everyone.”

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russian troops are firing artillery into the area around Siversk.

Nearby, a group of Ukrainian soldiers lounge around in an abandoned gas station, eating bread and sausage, their semi-automatic rifles at their side. They say they go back and forth at the front without giving details.

“Our cause is the right one,” insists a young soldier, while another, older, bearded man says, “We don’t watch the news.”

“If there’s really good news, we definitely hear about it,” he says, smiling.

Social Tags:
#Dissatisfaction #battle #line #Donbass

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