Ukraine: in the villages on the Russian border, “we are no longer afraid, we are used to it”

A checkpoint, barbed wire and a river that the driver points to, worried: on the other side are the separatists and their snipers. A few kilometers further, the front line. In this “border controlled zone” in eastern Ukraine, in the Mariupol region, truce violations are on the rise. Shelling and gunfire were heard yesterday as France and Germany called on their nationals to leave the country.

Tatiana, 52, is “worry”. She lives in Chermalyk, one of these border villages, and pulls out ammunition, which landed in the roof of her house two years ago. However, she says, “You can’t get used to the bombardments.“This is not the case of another resident, crossed a few streets further. Because while the shots rang out in the night, he “slept”. “We’ve been living like this for eight years. Since Mariupol [la ville de la région], surely you heard what was going on. Me, I saw it, it was right in front, he says. Dn those moments, I sleep. I am used to.”

The village of Gnutové, one of the villages in the "grey zone" near Mariupol, which borders the front line with the pro-Russian separatists.  (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIO FRANCE)

The village of Gnutové, one of the villages in the "grey zone" near Mariupol, which borders the front line with the pro-Russian separatists.  (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIO FRANCE)

“The Russians will continue to shoot at us”

A few kilometers from the border, Ukrainian soldiers occupy houses in Gnutové and have taken up their position behind the hill very close to the village, which has been regularly bombarded since the start of the conflict, several years ago now. New bombings took place “yesterday and the day before yesterday”.

Liudmila, 75, lives in Gnutové. “For the moment, it’s fine, but we don’t know. We are no longer afraid, we are used toconfides the septuagenarian. This is a provocation by the Russians, they want to surround us and will continue to fire on us.” His house was on the front line in 2015. A missile landed “right in the yard” at the time. “It got bogged down in the mud, and didn’t explode”, she says, relieved. As for peace, Lyudmila “do not know” if she will ever come back.

Ukraine: report by Benjamin Illy in the Mariupol region, near the Russian border


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