Donbass, the twenty  year  olds’ struggle for survival: “It’s not Mariupol”

Donbass, the twenty year olds’ struggle for survival: “It’s not Mariupol”

by Lorenzo Cremones, SLOVIANSK (DONBASS)

In Slowjansk, in Lugansk still Ukrainian: “The best men are wounded or dead, but we defend ourselves”: Failed corridors: “They are deporting us”. The Russians capture two American volunteers

“The greatest danger remains that the Russians will come behind us. But otherwise the situation today in Severodonetsk is very different from the siege of Mariupol in recent months ».

The three twenty-year-old soldiers we meet at the only functioning snack bar in Sloviansk, one of the cities in Lugansk governorate still controlled by the Ukrainians, emerged two days ago from what is currently the most difficult fighting. They are commanded by a shaved-head sergeant who agrees to speak only by the combat name Nikita. He does not make any concrete references, but tells directly. “We spent two weeks in the basement of Azot, the chemical plant that many compare to the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol, without realizing that the basement here is less extensive and shallower. We are not organized to resist for long, as happened in Mariupol, but Severodonetsk is only a few hundred meters from the Ukrainian front, supplies continue to arrive in the backpacks of those who pass by on foot, and we ourselves were able to Get off on foot on the remains of a bridge. We also saw that ammunition, water and food are passed on small boats that depart from the Lysychansk coast and cross the Siversky Donets in a few minutes ».

Nikita doesn’t hide the difficulties: “We defend ourselves, we sometimes attack, even though the Russians have now parked the wagons in the streets around the factory and we have few weapons. Our best soldiers are wounded or killed and there is a lack of personnel to replace them because training a recruit takes time and we are running out of time, the men who arrive go straight to the front ». Even more urgent remains “the threat of encirclement: the Russians are constantly trying to close our units in large pockets, which they then bombard from afar”. Meanwhile, in Kharkiv, northeast of Sloviansk, two American volunteer soldiers – the first two since the conflict began – were captured by the Russians yesterday. Their names would be Robert Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27.

Traveling between Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Bakhmut in the rear of Severodonetsk yesterday, it was easy to verify the descriptions of the three soldiers. Russian artillery fire from three sides. The most frequent bombardment comes from Popasna, further south than the Lysychansk corridor, where there is no river and the shots prepare the ground for the advance of the tank columns. From the north, however, the Muscovites are driving guns out of the Yampol scorched earth area, where they are also used to keep the Sloviansk sector under fire. «Today the Russians tend to encircle the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk district, they want to close the circle in Bakhmut, so they aim directly at Kramatorsk. Then they would have the whole of Lugansk in their hands,” they explain to the Ukrainian regional commands.

But nobody here gives up the Donbass battle. Yesterday’s offer by Moscow to evacuate around 500 civilian refugees in Azot, including around 40 children, to the pro-Russian areas fizzled out before it even started. The bombing rampage thwarted the “humanitarian corridor” that Ukrainian officials have accused of “forced displacement of the population” that is not being offered the choice of fleeing to Kyiv. From Moscow they reply that the Ukrainian soldiers “form a shield” with the civilians.

There is a lack of electricity and water in the whole area, the telephone connections are cut off. The Russians are trying to block the arrival of western weapons by bombarding the depots with long-range Caliber-type missiles: Moscow says they struck on the Polish border and near the Kherson region. In this situation, any hope of a peaceful solution seems further away today than it was three months ago. Kyiv continues to demand guns, believing that only force can stop Putin. And yesterday’s remarks by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev certainly don’t help, who, referring to Ukraine’s request to receive gas from the allies against payment “within two years”, said he was not at all sure that “the It will still be Ukraine on the map »in the year 2024. The logic of wall against wall triumphs, in which the Ukrainians see their thesis of a war without alternatives, of pure survival, confirmed.

June 15, 2022 (change June 15, 2022 | 22:36)