Scenes from Eastern Ukraine as Russia attacks

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine – The explosions started before dawn. Firecrackers rumbled in the distance, shaking an area known for conflict and death. Then there was an eerie silence, pierced by the crowing of roosters, as people blinked out of their homes into the morning light.

And then there’s the panic.

In this small town in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, not too far from where the heavy fighting was taking place on Thursday morning, people were running on the banks, running over gas stations, and some trying to run. try to go west.

“What a panic, can’t you see?” Yevheni Balai said, pointing to the line of anxious Ukrainians standing outside a closed bank, desperate to withdraw cash. “They got exactly what they wanted, stuff on the other side – panic and instability.”

For years, the war between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists has been a protracted conflict that the rest of the world rarely pays attention to. To some extent, the rush to get money and food after the explosions became part of the daily routine.

But this was different. Now Russia is invading.

As Ukrainian officials surveyed the country, with Russia launching attacks on cities, people in the capital Kyiv had to wait in line for up to an hour to buy fuel for their cars. The city’s main airport was bombed and its main roads were blocked with traffic as people tried to flee.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, urged anyone who wants to take up arms against Russian forces to immediately join the units defending the country’s territory. All anyone needs to register is a Ukrainian passport, he said.

“The enemy is attacking, but our army is indestructible,” he said. “Ukraine is moving into full-fledged defense mode.”

At a base in Slovyansk of the Ukrainian National Guard, troops in dull green uniforms scattered in all directions. Wives and girlfriends came to say goodbye to the soldiers, even as the soldiers admitted that they had absolutely no idea where they would be ordered to go.

“It’s okay, I’ll tell you,” said one of the guards, who gave only his last name, Yevheni. He said he had been fighting against Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway region of eastern Ukraine since the war broke out in 2014. His wife, Yelena, came to deliver his clothes.

“They told us not to come to work. All kindergartens are closed. But for now, everything is quiet,” she said. “They said they were preparing for an evacuation.”

Outside a blood bank in Slovyansk, Bohdan Kravchenko is sitting in his car after donating, listening to the Ukrainian national anthem at high volume.

“We are doing what we can to support the country,” he said. “There is no panic. We just have to act according to the situation. Everything is just beginning “.

Inside, the director of the blood bank, who only gave her name, Katerina, was smoking.

She said of the Russians: “They are so treacherous. “They call themselves our brothers. What kind of brother! I indignant. How many years have we belonged to the same country? How can the Russians behave like this? ”

She said people are coming to donate blood, the elderly and the young. Last week, the soldiers arrived as if anticipating what was to come.

“We have lived eight years of unending war,” she said. “There is nowhere to run. All of Ukraine is exploding”.

However, not everyone is worried.

Lera Alekseeva stood in the yard, warming her hairless cat in the folds of her coat. She said she was due to report to work first Thursday morning at a company in town that sells and repairs cash registers. Though she says she has no intention of leaving, she is bringing her cat and poodle to work, just in case.

“They are like children,” she said. “I can’t go anywhere without them. They will be with me. “

Slovyansk was the scene of fierce fighting in 2014 when war broke out between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels. But while many expressed anger at Russia for bringing war into their lives, not everyone blamed Russia’s President, Vladimir V. Putin.

Lyubov Vasilyevna, 75, said: “It is our scoundrels in Ukraine who have listened to NATO and the Pentagon, who are pushing them into the war.”

Her bag was filled with a loaf of freshly bought bread as she waited in line to get cash from the ATM, even though there didn’t seem to be any left.

All she wanted, she said, was to live in peace in her native Donbas region. She paused and then read a poem she had written two years ago:

I look forward to peace
But it comes to us too slowly. We still have some patience.
Peace is near at hand
And we are waiting for it to come
No gunfire, no blood.
Enough has been poured in the Donbas.
Let the sun smile and the sky shine
And the children smile.
Let it pass in a black moment.
There will be peace for all
And people will say that God has heard us.
Let all the stormy skies leave us,
And welcome to Donbas and the city of Slovyansk. Scenes from Eastern Ukraine as Russia attacks

Fry Electronics Team

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