Ukraine news: Civilians cling on as troops repel Russia

VUHLEDAR, Ukraine –

Muddy water slowly drips from a dirty drain pipe into a dirty container. While ticking, the risk of Emilia Budskaya losing her life or losing her limbs in the Russian shelling that is torturing a front-line town in eastern Ukraine increases.

Cracks from shrapnel fragments in the walls of the courtyard around her testify to the dangers of going outside, like the bulletproof vests Ukrainian soldiers guarding Vuhledar wear when emerging from their bunkers. It is exposed and not worn.

But Buzkaya and her daughter need water to cling on and survive in order to survive another day in the ruins.

And they, tick, tick, wait for the container to fill up, wait for Buzkaya to pour water into the plastic bottle, tick, tick, tick, wait for her to restart the process and finish the plastic bottle. fulfilled.

Squeezing through the rubble and mud, they carried their winnings back to the dark basement that is now their home.

“We have no water, nothing,” says Budskaya. “I get rainwater to wash my dishes and hands.”

With a near-static front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces stretching hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the Black Sea in the south to Ukraine’s northeastern border with Russia, Vuhledar has become one of the deadliest hotspots. became.

It joins Bakhmut, Marinka, and other cities and towns in a devastating and destructive war, especially in the hotly contested eastern Ukraine, as evidence of war of attrition and as a symbol of fierce Ukrainian resistance. It is

By defending the ruins, the Ukrainian military is delaying costly Russian offensive efforts to extend Moscow’s control over the entire Donbass region, an industrial belt in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has become Putin’s new target of conquest after his forces were repulsed from the capital Kiev and northern Ukraine in the early stages of the invasion a year ago.

Ukrainian soldiers have also paid a heavy price, but their sacrifices wear out the wave of troops and equipment Moscow is throwing into the battle, he says.

In Bakhmut, a soldier who allowed himself to be identified only by the war name “expert” said the shattered city in the Donetsk region of Donbass had become a “fortress” of Ukraine.

“Do you know what they did?” He said the Russians had been beating Bakhmut for months, slowly advancing with heavy casualties and trying to capture the prize.

“And this is not the only city,” added a soldier fighting in Ukrainian emergency response units.

Southwest of Bakhmut, the battlefield around Vkhreda in the Donetsk region witnesses the precious equipment and manpower Russia spends with little territory acquired. Tanks and other armored fighting vehicles blasted by mines or blocked by Ukrainian attacks crowd the blasted and cratered terrain.

Russia occupied most of the Luhansk region, which is also part of Donbass, but the neighboring Donetsk region is still loosely divided between Ukrainian and Russian control.

The Ukrainian military said on Sunday that Russian offensives in the east were still focused on Bakhmut and other objectives.

The Russian army includes mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group. The Wagner Group is a private military company that recruited combatants from prisons and put them into battle with high casualty rates. The billionaire owner with long-standing ties to Putin, former convicted felon Evgeny Prigozhin, said Saturday that his fighters had advanced into a settlement on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian military disputed the claim, saying the Russian forces had been repulsed.

Donetsk Governor Pablo Kirilenko said three civilians were killed and four wounded in Saturday’s Russian attacks. Vuhledar and its surroundings were also heavily shelled, he said. Further along the front lines, also in the Ukrainian-Russian-controlled southern Kherson region, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said 78 Russian attacks in the region on Saturday left two civilians dead and seven dead. reported injured.

While patrolling the ruins of Vuhledar, rushing along a muddy road to hide behind a pockmarked wall, Ukrainian soldiers said their battle was greater than control of the city.

“We fight for our children, for our fellow Ukrainians, for our country,” said a Marine with the military name “Moryak.”

“Because I think what Russia is doing now is genocide of Ukrainians, and Ukrainians have no choice but to win.”

Other deployments on Sunday:

— To mark the anniversary of Russia’s occupation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is convinced that returning Crimea to Ukrainian control is part of ending the war. expressed.

“This is our land. Our people. Our history. We will return the Ukrainian flag to every corner of Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated on Sunday: “The United States has not and will not recognize Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Crimea is Ukraine.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked in CNN’s “State of the Union address” whether the United States would support Ukraine’s military efforts to retake Crimea, saying, “This war and this war. What will ultimately happen to Crimea in the context of a resolution of the It’s a Ukrainian decision with the support of the United States,” he said.

Ukrainian forces are building a fortress in Crimea to strengthen the defenses of the Russian army on Sunday, bringing 150 Russian conscripts from Russia’s Chelyabinsk region near the Ural Mountains to do engineering work. said.

— Saudi Foreign Minister Farhan bin Faisal visited Kiev and signed an agreement under which Riyadh would provide humanitarian assistance and finance the purchase of oil derivatives. “I hope this will help ease the suffering of the Ukrainian people during this humanitarian crisis,” he said of the $400 million deal.


John Lester of Kiev, Ukraine and Elise Morton of London contributed to this report.

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