ERR in Ukraine: Locals returning to Kupiansk despite bombing

Kupiansk Source: ERR

The city of Kupiansk in Ukraine's Kharkiv Oblast is increasingly coming under fire from Russian troops in their attempt to break through Ukrainian defenses there and draw attention away from the latter's offensive.

ERR correspondents Anton Aleksejev and Kristjan Svirgsden last visited Kupiansk in March. The city was half-empty by then. But despite intense bombings, many residents are returning to their homes.

"It has gotten neither easier nor harder, the bombing is simply constant. We were evacuated once but decided to come back. We fear for our lives but live here nonetheless," Olga said.

"Yes, it is dangerous. But it's better to be home. No one needs us where we evacuated to. They helped and commiserated with us, but home is home," said Irina.

Irina now helps distribute humanitarian aid to the residents of Kupiansk and nearby villages.

"I don't live here but in the village of Krugliakovka. The bombing is more frequent there than here. Our entire street has been destroyed. On August 7 there was an air strike after which no building was undamaged," Nikolai shared.

Kupiansk was under Russian occupation last year, with the Russian troops currently around ten kilometers from the city limits. The locals hope they will not return.

"We hope they will not make their way back here. Our boys are defending us, our country and the Krarkiv region. But should they reach here again, we will pack up our things and escape," Irina added.

"I have my bags packed. If it gets any worse, we'll run. But we belong here. We grow a little something in the garden and live off that. The kids have been sent off to Kharkiv. We are hanging in there for now, while I do not know what will happen next," Anna said.

Everyone in the city remembers what it was like living under Russian occupation.

"I have a small child. We tried to stay indoors and avoid going out. We lost our jobs because they were connected to Ukraine. We stayed home from kindergarten. We occasionally made trips to the city center where I tried to avoid their attention. We just went out to buy food and returned home directly. We never went out after the curfew," Olga described life in the city.

Just like Anna, Olga has now sent her child away from the front lines, to Kharkiv.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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