ERR in Orikhiv: Russian offensives in Zaporizhzhia region unrelenting

ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev in Orikhiv, Ukraine.
ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev in Orikhiv, Ukraine. Source: ERR

Russian forces are on the offensive not only in the Donbas region of Ukraine, but also in Zaporizhzhia, ERR's correspondent Anton Aleksejev reports. Those who have no alternative but to continue living on and near the front line are feeling this especially harshly

Last week, Russian troops tried to advance in the direction of Orikhiv, a small city in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in the southeast of Ukraine.

The city's deputy mayor, Svitlana Mandrych, who has even appeared in international media outlets such as the Washington Post, told Aleksejev that: "We are under constant bombardment, night and day, whereas it had not been so intense before. In the meantime, we have had [Russian] planes and helicopters flying overhead, firing from many Grad multiple rocket launchers and Pion self-propelled guns, as well as S-300 missile systems. We haven't been able to get out of the basement for hours per day."

"Life is tough. We're basically living in basements. I have been to my apartment to cook, and then immediately had to dash back to the basement due to the fierce battles raging here," she went on.

Last week, one home in the city was hit four times during fighting going on in the outskirts of the city.

Local resident Adam told ERR that: "I had put my car in the garage, then two shells directly hit it. We were sleeping in the house that night, when suddenly came the explosion - two shells there, more here and there. They fell all around us. I cannot understand how the apartment building itself was not hit."

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Orikhiv had a population of 14,000. This has dwindled to less than 2,000, while the local government Mandrych is a part of is still urging residents to move away.

"A lot of people have already left as we are constantly being bombarded. We have no electricity, gas or water supplies. We are evacuating people again today. These are old people, and we are essentially trying to save their lives because it is very dangerous here. The last few days have been very hard," Mandrych went on.

Two such evacuees were 83-year-old Nadezhda Andriyovna, and her son, Stanislav, 65.

"We are now heading to a boarding house in Zaporizhzhia. We can't stand it here anymore," Stanislav said.

"There is nothing positive to hope for. We had been hoping that the Russians would come to their senses and quit mocking everyone. But our patience ran out," said Nadezhda.

However, some people have decided to stay put even now, including deputy mayor Mandrych.

Anton Aleksejev is on the ground in Ukraine and providing reportages for ERR, together with cameraman Kristjan Svirgsden.

"Where will I go with my pension of 2,300 hryvnia (approximately €57-ed.)? I sent my grandchildren to Zaporizhzhia, but there is also shelling going on there. We are staying here, with our grandfather. We are trusting in God, we really are," said one Orikhiv resident, Svetlana.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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