‘They ruined everything’: Escape from Ukraine’s desolation


POKROVSK, UKRAINE (AP) — The house is on fire. Artillery penetrating thick apartment walls. Villages are being shattered by people hiding in basements without electricity, water or gas.

Shocked and sometimes holding back tears, civilians who fled areas near the Eastern Front of the Ukrainian War described the devastation of their villages and villages under constant attack by Russian troops.

More than 270 people boarded an evacuation train from the village of Pokrovsk on Sunday heading west to a safe area in Ukraine. Most of them came by bus from the area near the battle.

“Ashes, ruins. Both the northern and southern regions have been destroyed,” said 83-year-old Lida Chuhay, who fled the heavily damaged village of Lyman near the front lines of eastern Luhansk province. “Literally everything is on fire: houses, buildings, everything.”

She and others who escaped Lyman said the city was under constant attack, mostly turned to rubble. Those who remained there hid in shelters. Almost no one ventures out because walking the streets is so dangerous.

“They ruined everything.” Sitting across from Chuhay on the train, Olha Medvedeva said. “The five-story building we lived in had all the windows and doors blown away.”

Now everyone lives in the basement because projectiles fly overhead, she said.

Petro Demidov, who was sitting opposite her on the train, said he hid in a supermarket while waiting for the bus to pick them up and take them by train. The ceiling above it shook with the force of an external explosion.

“We escaped from the great fire,” he said.

Russia appears to have advanced slowly in recent days against Ukrainian troops in the eastern industrial region of Donbas. It intensified efforts to capture Sieberodonetsk, the main Ukrainian-controlled city of Luhansk Province, which together with neighboring Donetsk Province make up Donbas.

“Horror. Not to mention especially in the city centre.” Lyubov Chudnyk, 76, said of Lyman, the city where she lived for 42 years: “Schools, monuments are damaged. Lyman is terrible now.”

She supported Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, “I want to strangle him with my hands,” Chudnyk said.

Denys Uperaka, 34, said the small town of Soledar, about 30 kilometers southeast of Lyman, was also hit hard. He had already sent away his wife and three-year-old son at the beginning of the war. Now he had to leave.

“Everything has hit us,” he said, because he was lucky to live in the valley. But it must be too much. On Sunday, the Russians opened fire at 4 am.

“I can’t be there anymore,” he added, adding that Russian forces have captured the village of Volodymyribka just east of Soledar.

The town of Yakovlevka, north of Soledar, is also under constant attack, said Valentina Domanshenko, 59, said. The village no longer has electricity, water and gas, she said. People were surviving outdoors by cooking over bonfires. She saw people die from shrapnel injuries on the streets.

“Every day there is shelling and the house trembles. A lot of people have left, but there are still a few left.” Domanshenko said with tears in her eyes. “I’m very worried about them.”

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Follow all AP articles on the Ukrainian War at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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