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Kramatorsk: another Donbas town laid waste by Russian aggression



By Matthew Parish


This was the scene when the Russian artillery mindlessly hit the forecourt in front of Kramatorsk railway station in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. The shells landed in the middle of the day, when civilians were using the railway station in mass numbers in order to flee the fighting and take trains to other parts of the country. People were blown to pieces. All that was left was blood and guts and smashed luggage all over the square in front of the station. The Russians didn’t care. Mindless wanton death and destruction were good enough for them.


I passed through that station yesterday. It is now armed to the teeth with soldiers and police, as you would expect. It still represents the principal Donbas artery for the movement of people and goods within free Ukraine, and trains to Lviv, Kyiv and all over the country run from that station every day, in defiance of the Russian aggressors. It’s disgraceful and disgusting, how the Russians can target a city of civilians. But they keep going nonetheless. They don’t care. All day and all night, every day and every night, you hear the relentless pounding of the guns, boom-boom-boom-boom, the massive artillery pieces designed by the Russians to terrorise the civilian population of this once booming city.


All day and all night, you hear air raid sirens. You see buildings destroyed, half-collapsed. You hear tales of woe. You see smashed up cars and military vehicles driving around. Most of the buildings have been boarded up. People no longer live above ground. They live in cellars and in basements, and I have been staying in an ad hoc hotel carved out of a series of rooms in a cellar underneath an apartment block in central Kramatorsk. The people have to live like this, they have to live like rodents, because the Russians render them distraught with terror. This is Russian military and defence policy as we approach the second quarter of the twenty-first century, and it is barbarism in all its forms.


The Russian Armed Forces revolt me in the cruelty of their tactics. They don’t give a damn. They don’t care that these cowering suffering people continue to suffer in this city, once an industrial giant of the Soviet Union. They don’t care that many of the people doing the suffering are ethnically Russian Ukrainians. The Russians can’t pretend that they’re looking after their own; they’re not looking after anyone. They’re just engaged in wanton destruction and revolting acts of vandalism.


This is the modern Russia we have come to learn run by its monstrous dictator, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. A super-modern coward, living behind his concrete walls and amongst the sumptuous decor of the Kremlin, he cares nothing for the ordinary man or woman living on the streets of Kramatorsk. He doesn’t care about the difference between Russians and Ukrainians; he does’t care about anything, except embarking on war and conflict and destruction for its own sake, so he can murder his political opponents in the meantime by having them fall out of hospital windows, poisoned, shot, or whatever other grizzly fates await anyone who crosses his tyrannical rule.


In the meantime, the people of Kramatorsk suffer on, bleeding every day, from their arteries or from their hearts, as the misery of perpetual bombardment of this civilian city continues. I am disgusted to see religious buildings destroyed, shopping centres blown up, civilian restaurants ripped to pieces by the Krasnopol artillery shells. This is modern Russia, and it is a state hell bent on having no purpose other than fighting war.


Today I will try to visit a local Orthodox monastery. The Russians have tried to blow that up too: one of the most important shrines in the Donbas region, their Armed Forces, under the wicked dictator Vladimir Putin, have no respect or courtesy towards the sanctity of religion or holy men. They are just a band of ruthless murderers, going about whatever actions they want to preserve their naked power.


The war in Donbas grinds on, with nobody achieving any results of significance. There is a hard front line here and it has been in place for ten years but the Russians won’t stop shooting or firing their mortars and their shells. They just want to keep the killing apace, because it suits them. They know they have no hope of taking further Donbas territory; a ten-year hard front line is unlikely to move any time soon. There’s only one way of dealing with these corrupt murderous killers, and that is NATO.

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