ERR near Luhansk: artillery fire now common ({{commentsTotal}})

Eastern Ukraine, close to the front line
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Photo: Eastern Ukraine, close to the front line Author: (Kirill Krabu, Artur Aukon/ERR)

Two ERR Radio 4 journalists Kirill Krabu and Artur Aukon visited the Ukrainian village of Tr'okhizbenka near the front line of battle, finding locals no longer surprised by shelling.

People in the area are worried about a lack of jobs, agricultural products are left unsold and gas connections are disrupted, and the artillery shelling has become routine, reported.

The majority of the people in and around the village worked in or sold agricultural products to areas now controlled by the separatists, so business has collapsed.

ERR journalists did not witness any artillery fire themselves, but they visited the area only during the day, five kilometers from the front line, while the majority of the shelling takes place at night. Government soldiers said they are not allowed to return fire, only with the permission of the military headquarters.

“I could no longer watch what was going on in the state, I felt I need to come and help as much as I can. Already during the Maidan events I thought one cannot just sit and watch,” a soldier from the Aidar Battalion, a volunteer unit of the Ukrainian army, told ERR.

The soldier, named Zenja, said more than half of the village are against them, watching Russian media. He said Russian media portrays Ukrainian soldiers as bandits who eat children.

Speaking about the separatists, Zenja said it is a wide mix of people. “The Chechens, Cossacks and even Ukrainians fight for money. With 100 percent certainty – there are professional regular Russian soldiers as well. At first there were these Cossacks, who we fought. Then they left and the Chechens turned up. They are being rotated,” he said.

According to the soldier, the terrorists do not have Grad rocket launchers, tanks and artillery, “This is the Russian army. They just want to conquer land which they need. Compared to Crimea, they were surprised at how fast we could retaliate. A great many people, who were not indifferent, gathered in a short time to form volunteer battalions,” he said, adding that they are buying their own ammunition, although many help.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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