Outnumbered and worn out, Ukrainians in east brace for Russian assault

By | February 6, 2023

The New York Times reports:

In a tiny village in eastern Ukraine at the epicenter of the next phase of the war, Lyudmila Degtyaryova measures the Russian advance by listening to the boom of incoming artillery shells.

There are more and more of them now. And they are coming more frequently, as Russian troops grind their way forward.

“You should see the fireworks here,” said Ms. Degtyaryova, 61, as the sounds of artillery howled all around. “It is like New Year’s.”

Russia’s military is preparing to launch a new offensive that could soon swallow Ms. Degtyaryova’s village of Nevske, and perhaps much more in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas. But already the impact of Russia’s stepped-up assault is being felt in the towns and villages along the hundreds of miles of undulating eastern front.

Exhausted Ukrainian troops complain they are already outnumbered and outgunned, even before Russia has committed the bulk of its roughly 200,000 newly mobilized soldiers. And doctors at hospitals speak of mounting losses as they struggle to care for fighters with gruesome injuries.

The civilians standing in the way of Russia’s planned advance once again face the agonizing decision of whether to leave or to stay and wait out the coming calamity. This area in the northern Donbas was among the last to be liberated in a Ukrainian blitz offensive last fall that raised hopes among local residents that their months of trauma were over.

But the war has come back. Two weeks ago, a Russian shell landed in Ms. Degtyaryova’s yard, and as she contemplated her future over the weekend, the remains of her barn still smoldered. [Continue reading…]

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