Ukraine: eclipsed for a time by Kharkiv, the fighting in Donbass shows no respite: News

Ukraine: eclipsed for a time by Kharkiv, the fighting in Donbass shows no respite: News
Ukraine: eclipsed for a time by Kharkiv, the fighting in Donbass shows no respite: News

In front of a house in Iampil, Volodymyr Zelensky half-opens his gate. This sixty-year-old Ukrainian, proud namesake of his president, is witness to the decay of his beloved village in Donbass, located far too close to the front.

If the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, further north, has focused international attention since its launch in early May, Russia is not releasing the pressure in eastern Ukraine. Quite the contrary.

“People are fleeing,” notes Volodymyr Zelensky. He has no intention of leaving, even if he is afraid.

Several rockets recently fell not far from there, without hitting a house but digging craters of “seven meters in diameter”, wonders the resident, between a bed of yellow tulips and two dozing dogs.

The house next to Volodymyr’s is destroyed and, around it, many others are barricaded.

When his village was occupied by Moscow’s army during the first year of the invasion, in 2022, he also refused to “give up everything”.

The town has been recaptured, but remains threatened. Volodymyr fears that if Russian soldiers one day return, they will be “crueler”, radicalized by two years of fighting.

In the streets of Iampil, about ten kilometers from a rather stable section of the front in the Donetsk region, the most common spectacle is the ballet of military vehicles.

– Ghost villages –

But everywhere in the area the war, triggered in this region in 2014 by a separatist uprising led by Moscow, has left behind ghost villages, the list of which is only growing.

Russia, which claims, among other things, the annexation of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, concentrates its most massive attacks in the east, according to Ukrainian officials.

For kyiv, the Kharkiv offensive aims above all to thin out the Ukrainian ranks in the Donbass by lengthening the front and forcing a redeployment of troops.

Near Iampil, the lines hardly move, but about forty kilometers further south, Russian soldiers are advancing, slowly but surely despite their losses, facing a Ukrainian army lacking men and resources.

Russian troops are well established in the surroundings of Tchassiv Iar, a strategic town because it is perched high and whose fall could lead to a push towards the large city of Kramatorsk.

A little further south, the areas of Pokrovsk and Kourakhové are particularly sensitive.

“The situation is quite difficult,” summarizes Maxime, commander of a company of tankers in the 59th brigade which is fighting in the Pokrovsk zone. “Almost daily, we repel two or three attacks.”

Over the past ten days, “there has been a clear increase in the number of enemy soldiers and they have brought armored vehicles as well as long-range artillery,” said the 38-year-old soldier.

“It’s one of the hottest areas,” agrees his deputy Serguiï, or “Dyrman”, 36 years old.

In February, Russia succeeded in taking the fortress town of Avdiïvka, which it had coveted for years. Since then, there have been few weeks without her claiming the conquest of one or more villages. Although these are generally ruined localities of reduced importance, these signals nonetheless undermine the morale of the Ukrainian fighters.

– Constant attacks –

“For many, it is difficult to remain optimistic,” notes the young drone pilot Danylo, nom de guerre “Macron”, referring to “heavy” human losses since the winter, particularly due to the shortage of ammunition.

According to him, the Russian offensive around Kharkiv has in no way “relieved the pressure” in the East.

Chassiv Yar is more than ever in the sights of the Russian army, which hopes to be able to orchestrate a breakthrough there. This week, thick plumes of black smoke rose into the sky, testifying to the fighting.

According to Rouslan, in charge of communications for the 41st brigade, the Russians are still stationed in the suburbs, but “they are constantly trying to enter.”

His brigade is waiting for new recruits, but the soldier knows that even more will be needed. Between the injured, the dead and the exhaustion, “we need people,” he said.

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