Empty streets, bombed out houses and craters the width of a bus. None of this can drive out the last residents of the Ukrainian town of Novomychaylivka, which lies on the edge of the front line. Russian shelling almost destroyed it, but a few people still tend to their gardens and one goat.
Where would I go with my goat?” Ukrainians don’t want to leave their “frontline” town. | Video: Radio Free Europe
Ukrainian soldiers say that not far from here, the Russians are constantly sacrificing their soldiers. Until recently, according to them, Russian infantry followed tanks and armored personnel carriers. Now only infantry moving in small groups engage in combat. “It’s a caravan tactic. The first group goes as far as possible, they have ammunition, water and food with them. When this group is destroyed, the second one moves in. It knows where the ammunition and food of the first group is,” according to Ukrainian soldiers who are holding defense lines nearby Novomychajlivky.
Then, as they march through the town, they are saddened by the sight of the ruins. “It’s hard to look at. There used to be life in those houses. That’s the price we pay for our freedom. We fought against [Rusku] for centuries,” says another Ukrainian soldier to the Radio Free Europe reporter. The last few local residents refuse to leave their homes even after a year of Russian shelling.
“Carrots, radishes, potatoes, onions, pumpkins, cucumbers. We planted it because that’s what we always do. You have to be busy to drive away stupid thoughts,” thinks Natalya, a resident of Novomychaylivka, pointing to shelling craters behind her garden, where she is afraid step in.
Humanitarian aid cannot reach Novomychaylivka, which is located near Donetsk. “Russian artillery is constantly shelling the city. Out of several thousand inhabitants, only a few people remain in the town. No one knows the exact number, because civilians cannot be counted yet,” says reporter Borys Sačalko at the remains of the Russian Grad missile, which sank into the ground in the middle of a residential area.
Other towns and villages near the front line are also almost empty. When a journalist asks an elderly man on camera why he didn’t leave Novomychajlivka, the man answers with a laugh: “Where would I go with a goat?” and points to the animal he took out to graze behind the house.
The Tomáš tank donated by the Czechs helps in the fighting in Ukraine:
The Tomáš tank, which was built by the Czechs, helps in the fighting in Ukraine. | Video: Twitter/praisethesteph
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