RT visited civilians surviving in the blasted-through buildings and basements of a town hit hard by the conflict in Ukraine
© Stepan Kostetskiy
“God preserve you!” says an elderly Volnovakha resident to departing volunteers. She and her husband stand at the gate to the front yard of their suburban home holding simple provisions that have just been delivered to them. These include fresh bread, grains, tea, coffee, and medicine. A few hours later, on the way back, the volunteers’ car will return to an area with phone reception, and journalists will call the woman’s relatives in Russia to tell them she’s okay. This will be good news, as there have been no communication services in Volnovakha since fighting, once again, broke out there almost three weeks ago.
The city is approximately halfway between Mariupol and Donetsk in a region recognised by Russia as belonging to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). According to Western media outlets, and the online Wikipedia resource, it no longer exists. Indeed, the latter currently carries its obituary, saying: “Volnovakha was a small city in Ukraine… before being destroyed during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the population of the city was 21,441.”
According to local sources, Kiev’s forces had built substantial military fortifications on the outskirts of Volnovakha. However, the long trenches and deep dugouts are intact, having been untouched by the DPR’s offensive. This would appear to back up assertions that the Ukrainians retreated to the town proper, perhaps with a view to preventing their opponents from using artillery or calling in air strikes. Of course, this meant that residential areas of the city bore the brunt of the fighting.
A little way into the town, there is a large sculpture with “I ♡ VOLNOVAKHA” inscribed on it. On the heart between the two words, someone has spray-painted the letter Z, the symbol of Russia’s military operation. There is a ruined church next to the inscription. Apparently, it fell into decay and began to collapse a few years ago. The same cannot be said for the rest of the city. It is badly damaged, and this has just happened recently.