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Report from the Frontline

By: Shannon Taft

Наша сила - наша єдність. Разом ми будемо утримувати передню лінію та захищати нашу незалежність.

Our unity is our strength. Together, we will hold the frontline and protect our sovereignty.” - Ukrainian Proverb

   This enduring proverb has been part of the cultural fabric of Ukraine for many years–specifically seeing a popular resurgence since Ukraine declared her independence on August 24th, 1991. Now, in the face of 2 years of renewed Russian aggression, the frontline is still holding.  What follows is observations from the frontline, accompanied by photos, after a journey on the 2nd week of March, 2024, to areas of Ukrainian resistance.

Toretsk: This town and surrounding area has been under constant mortar attack for several months. The most recent attacks have been a targeted shelling of Toretsk on February 4th, 2024, and an attack of a KAB-500 guided aerial bomb on a private sector of the town on March 7th, 2024. The church had been hit with a missile, and the used casing lay across the street from it’s destruction. The house in the courtyard had been half-destroyed, and the sisters of the Church had moved into the basement of the attacked building and made their home. A school across the street had been targeted as well, and an office complex around the corner. The few people on the streets were elderly citizens who remained, and were visiting the few shops that remained open. Mortars exploded in the near distance, perhaps from nearby Horlivka. 

Kostiantynivka: This town is 25 km west of Bahkmut, and is under heavy artillery attack from Russian forces. The smaller town of Chasiv Yar, in between Kostiantynivka and Bahkmut, is the current active battleground for this area. The train station has been completely destroyed, and there are very few civilians remaining in the city. There is a small market operating on the corner of a bus stop and parking lot awash with mud. Elderly denizens sell freshly butchered meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a small variety of basic household goods to soldiers and passers-by from what remains of the town.  All the shops and restaurants have been destroyed or permanently closed. There are ongoing mortar attacks in sectors of the city, as Ukrainian military tanks and vehicles continue to roll into the city from the north.

Bohorodychne: This town is enroute to Sviatohirsk Cave Monastary, but has been completely decimated by the Russians. The name of the town means “Where God was born”, and was home to 800 Ukrainians before being occupied in August 2022. The Russians were driven out a month later. There are no civilians remaining here. Every building has been destroyed, either completely or partially.

Sivers’k: This town was a major battlefield in mid-April, 2023. At that time, the population dwindled from 12,000 to under 2,000. Now, there are hardly signs of life. We saw 3 soldiers in the dusty streets. 2 were unarmed and seemed to live here still. The 3rd was in full body armor, and carried a tablet around, with his weapon. There were the same number of civilians at random spots, walking down the dirt roads. The town is full of abandoned dogs whose owners have presumably left or died. There are no sounds of shelling in the distance here–as the Russians have already come and gone. There is nothing left to shell.


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