Happiness lies in ruins. This small town – Schastia in Ukrainian – has been out of the headlines since Moscow took its brutal war against civilians to the country’s biggest cities.
But it is here, and in nearby Volnovakha, that the illegal tactics of terrorising civilians for military aims, honed in Syria and then brought back so close to home, have reached a grim high point.
There have been terrible strikes on homes, schools and hospitals around Ukraine. But residents of both towns say the barrage of shelling, rocket assaults and airstrikes since the start of the war has damaged or destroyed nearly every building in their towns, a comprehensive devastation as yet unmatched elsewhere.
The Russian flag has now been raised over the ruins of Schastia. In Volnovakha, the attack is still so intense that dead bodies lie uncollected, says local MP Dmytro Lubinets. Ukrainians still brave enough to run rescue missions are going back only for the living.
Thousands of them are trapped in basements, with dwindling supplies of food and water, sheltering from an apparently senseless attack on a town Lubinets says has no military defenders in its centre. The line of contact is 20km away, he says.
“It never stops, every five minutes there is a mortar landing or artillery shells, some buildings have been hit by multiple rocket systems,” he said by phone.
“In the city there is not any building which has not suffered from direct or collateral damage. So some buildings have major destruction, some minor destruction, some are completely destroyed to the ground.” [Continue reading…]