Roaring, hunger and loneliness in Kramatorsk: “In two weeks the Russians will be here too”

from Marta Serafini

After the conquest of Lyman, the advance of the Army approaches Kramatorsk, where those who fled from Severedonetsk take refuge. Hundreds of civilians trapped

from our invites
KRAMATORSK – I hadn’t received my medicines for a month. You saved my life. Suburbs of Kramatorsk, the news that the Russians have taken Lyman, forty kilometers to the north, arrived only two hours ago. Next goal Slavisansk, last way out of Severodonetsk and door to Kramatorsk. In between, trapped, a few hundred civiliansbetween those who do not want to go and those who cannot.

The latest news on the war in Ukraine

I have Parkinson’s, I’m alone and if no one brings me the pills, I die. I die. Catherine’s hands tremble as tears fall upon them. In the sky, the roars of missiles and artillery as the siren never stops screaming. Outside the gate, the tulips and lilies planted a few weeks ago. A few streets farther on, near the bombed-out factory, ladies Liuba and Valentina also welcome a pack of diapers with relief. They are for Liuba who cannot get out of bed. The mattress soaked in urine, the air unbreathable. On the bedside table, a bowl of rancid soup. In the kitchen, a very old stove. Why here there is practically no food left. And what little you find costs gold. For weeks, then there is no gas.

Hell Donbass. Why am I staying? Because I have to take care of these people. Elena shuttling back and forth between the aid center and the neighbors’ houses. Whoever left left her the keys. Those who remain ask her for help to get the packages of food. Look what I wrote on Facebook. She opens her profile on the phone. Her eyes blue, sad. She says she has diabetes. I have to treat myself with insulin. In a long post she describes the conditions of the houses she became the keeper of. Some are destroyed. Others are still standing and I try to keep them alive by feeding dogs that otherwise become ferocious. In another I watered the flowers so that at least something remains.

But there are not only houses to take care of. A little boy on a bicycle passes along the road. the son of a friend of mine, did not want to leave with his mother. And now I’m throwing him an eye. He doesn’t have time to say that another roar shakes the ground. We go down with her to her refuge. I prepared it just in case, she says proudly. Then she turns to a chair. We made a hole in it and put a bucket under it. So we also have the toilet. And we are ready to stay here even for a month if necessary.

In the center, at the station, the same where 57 killed by two missiles while trying to escape on 8 April, there are still signs left by the explosion on the ground. Across the square, the Celentano restaurant closed. I used to work there as a waiter, now I’m taking reporters to the frontline, explains Sergey. At the city entrance checkpoint, a soldier asks where we are headed. Welcome to Kramatorsk, don’t you already know this frontline? jokes. For the Russians, the road to Kramatorsk is still long but if it goes on like this in two weeks, Sergey predicts. I want to go to Lugansk, on the Russian side. A woman in her seventies approaches the car. She asks to roll down the window. agitated. Why do you want to go to the other side, are you crazy grandmother ?, asks Sergey. It doesn’t matter if they are Russian or Ukrainian. Here I am dying of hunger.

Ghost Kramatorsk. Kramatorsk with all the shops closed but with the municipal workers cutting the branches of the trees so that at least we give people something to do, says Alexander Ivanov, a volunteer from Tato hub, an NGO that distributes aid. Kramatorsk welcoming the last ones fleeing Severendonetsk, the new Mariupol, which the Russians try to tighten the noose around. I’m worried about Tiopa, she hardly eats anymore. She hugs her brindle cat, Anatoli Alexandrovic. He is 75 years old, arrived this morning and now he is about to get on the bus that will take him to Dnipro. I had to leave or Tiopa would not have survived. We have lived together for 16 years, ever since my wife died. With him there are also Mrs. Tatiana and Svetlana who support each other. Old women, sun, frightened. We don’t have a home to stay. We stayed even after 2015. We always resisted. But now, no. Now too much.