News World Survive with the Russians at the gates

Survive with the Russians at the gates

Cars struggle through the secondary road between Kostiantynivka and Bakhmut. They are 27 kilometers straight to the heart of a battle that began in summer and in which the enemy advances meter by meter in the heart of the Donbass. The fog is a wall, it looks like snow that you have to shovel out to get through. This rural road is now the highway used by the military and volunteers to access the epicenter of the battle. As you go east you see fewer and fewer cars and more destruction. When there are no more cars, the road becomes eternal and each kilometer takes forever. The fog darkens when colliding with the black earth of the chernozems, that fertile soil ideal for growing cereals that rebels against the abandonment of the last year, invading the little asphalt that remains on the road and turning it into a quagmire.

After 20 kilometers you have to stop at Chasiv Yar, a municipality that belongs to the Bakhmut district and that currently marks the limit of the area controlled by Ukraine. From here only weapons that do not stop roaring speak. The Ukrainians hit the enemy hard from this point and every artillery hit shakes the ground. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop.

The press is not welcome. A wild-eyed neighbor prepares pork skewers on a makeshift grill in the doorway of a half-destroyed building. He advances toward the new arrivals with a kitchen knife in hand and barely keeping his balance because of the ice. «A few days ago some photographers came and then the Russians attacked us and I lost my two cars. Get out of here you bastards!” There is fear of speaking out, fear of present fighting and possible future Russian reprisals if Ukrainian troops lose more ground. The change of hands it can occur at any time.

Here the war reports from the Ministry of Defense are not followed because they have first-hand information. They are protagonists of this fight for Dombás. One more day the General Staff indicated that Russia “continues to attack the positions of the Ukrainian troops” around Bakhmut, but denied that the Russian mercenary group Wagner had captured Yahidne, northwest of the city. As indicated by the spokesman for the group of forces in eastern Ukraine, Serhiy Cherevaty, “fights are taking place in seven points neighboring Bakhmut.” Points like Chasiv Yar.

the meeting point

Terror can with the few residents that remain in this part of Chasiv Yar and you have to go into the deserted streets of this town, which before the war had 20,000 inhabitants, to find some warmth. He Punkt Nezlamnosti (assembly point) It has become a place where those who have decided to ignore the call to evacuate made by the authorities go. Here they can connect to the internet and, when there is gasoline for the generator, charge their mobiles and cook thanks to a wood stove with a plate on top.

Lubov cooks potatoes, makes soup and tea over the stove that presides over the 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 borsch (beetroot soup) and goulash (meat stew) or preparing desserts, but now we can only cook potatoes, there is nothing else,” says Lubov as Ludmila shines a flashlight on the casserole with potatoes. Both friends will then share a menu at one of the long tables in the center, but they wait for some gasoline to arrive for the generator so they can do it under the light of the light bulb. Then, in their houses, they will return to live at night. «My great-grandson is called Arthur and he is 8 years old. It’s been a long time since he dated his parents. I was born here, my husband was born here and we will not leave. Better to die on your land than starve as a refugee in an unknown place,” Ludmila thinks.

Ludmila and Lubov in the Punkt Nezlamnosti

M. AYESTRAN

The icy landscape of the street melts due to the warm effect of the firewood. Only the explosions slip through the lined windows. “We don’t care too much at this point if they are shot from our artillery or if they are from the Russians, we live with fear embedded in our bodies and it is impossible to get used to it,” confesses Vladimir, a former worker at the local refractory material factory, a plant that “It was the largest in the USSR,” he proudly recalls.

The time in this Punkt Nezlamnosti is a parenthesis in a life marked by death. Outside, war knocks on the doors of this Bakhmut district. The artillery does not stop. It doesn’t stop.

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