in the Donbass, the city of Severodonetsk is holding its breath before the offensive announced by Moscow

Hunger, fatigue and constant danger. Civilians have fled en masse from the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine ahead of the Russian offensive announced for the coming days. The situation becomes very difficult, especially in the city of Severodonetsk, which had more than 100 000 inhabitants before the war in Ukraine. They’re five times fewer today, stuck in this commune which is close to the front line and constantly under fire from the Russian army.

In the eyes of Oleksandr Striuk there is tiredness, but also anger. He has the heavy responsibility of managing the city of Severodonetsk. He regrets a heavy human toll since the beginning of this war. “We lost 450 residents, explains Oleksandr Striuk. We had to create a new cemetery to bury her. They were killed by artillery fire, shrapnel, or cluster bombs.”

Oleksandr Striuk has the difficult task of managing the city of Severodonetsk.  (GILLES GALLINARO / RADIO FRANCE)


When Oleksandr Striuk is asked if he thinks Ukrainian troops can hold the city for very long, he replies: “We need help because if our army fights bravely. It lacks ammunition and military equipment. Without support it will be very difficult.”

The civilians who are still in the city live hidden in the bunkers or clutch the walls with hasty steps. “Honestly, of course, it’s difficult”explains Olga, the coordinator of humanitarian aid distributed by volunteers. She makes sure he stays “Many civilians in the shelters”.

“Civilians don’t want to leave if they’re constantly being told to get out of town. They are constantly being told that their lives are in danger.”

For example, Ola lives with her teenage son and refuses to become a refugee. “Who needs us there? Will there be work for us? We don’t even speak their language”explains the resident. “There are people who have lost their homes, who have no future. People who saved their whole lives and are now left with nothing. Do you think that’s normal?”she complains. She continues: “We’re running out of food, we’re running out of money, what’s next? It’s like this every day”. A hell of everyday life for residents like Ola and his son, who are holding their breath before the offensive announced by Moscow.

Severodonetsk holds its breath ahead of the offensive announced by Moscow – Omar Ouahmane and Gilles Gallinaro

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