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A Ukrainian girl just 9 says “I’m not scared. Because I’m the older sister”

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“Every day it’s blood, blood, blood” in Ukraine but there are some strong people who are “not scared” of Russian attackers and trying to keep themselves alive in bunkers and cellars.

Only one route remains available for Ukrainians seeking access to the besieged hilltop agricultural hamlet of Lysychansk as Russian soldiers inch forward along a meandering battle line in the northern Donbas region.

One recent afternoon, as Major Oleg Kravchenko drove furiously towards a front medical post close to the advancing Russian front lines, a brown smoke trail from a rocket floated overhead, and three artillery shells hit perhaps a mile east of the road.

Maj Kravchenko, a sardonic, imposing figure who leads the army’s medical staff in the area, said, “Every day it’s blood, blood, blood, blood.”

Every few seconds, the trill of springtime birdsong was interrupted by the boom of artillery. The floor was littered with broken glass and garbage. In one corner, an unused table-tennis table stood beside a gaping hole in the concrete wall caused by an incoming shell. The medics sat close, having coffee at a makeshift table.

Russian forces are now attempting to pin-crush Ukraine’s defenses with a pincer operation from the east, and Lysychansk is one of a number of vital towns that are being targeted by the Kremlin’s soldiers.

“The most we’ve had is 30 wounded (in one day). Shrapnel, bullets, trauma. Depending on what kind of battle. We pick them up and take them to the hospital. The fighting is very extreme and dangerous now. But our soldiers are holding our positions and we’re giving to our enemy a good fight,” Maj Kravchenko added.

The vast majority of injuries on numerous front lines are caused by shrapnel and concussion, demonstrating Russia’s policy of shelling Ukraine’s well-fortified positions from afar. However, the bullet injuries mentioned by the major appear to corroborate claims that Russian troops are now attempting to advance on foot.

Many of the structures on the streets outside exhibit the scars of recent Russian artillery and rocket fire. Another strike smashed a service station, and a new impact site created a massive crater in the road.

Russian soldiers have been advancing on Lysychansk from the north, east, and now the south-east, in what appears to be a more deliberate and potentially more effective approach to cut off major Ukrainian supply lines, notably the region’s vital rail network.

The majority of civilians have already fled Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, two close front-line towns. During one especially loud burst of shelling, however, a family of four strolled down the street near the hospital, carrying fresh food supplies to a neighboring cellar.

“We have nowhere else to go. No relatives in other places. Besides, you need money to live somewhere else and we would be broke within a month,” said Anastasia Leontiova, holding her four-year-old son’s hand.

“I’m feeling fine,” said nine-year-old Masha, brightly, although she flinched when a loud explosion boomed across the town. “I’m not scared. Because I’m the older sister, so I’m not scared,” she continued.

A vast administrative building’s cellar was home to seventeen civilians, many of them children. Their water had been turned off, but they still had power.

Lubova Gubin, 69, and her husband Alexei, 73, sat on their mattresses in a cramped room, calmly debating what they should do while listening to the news on the radio. The retired kindergarten cleaner and truck driver have spent their entire lives in Lysychansk.

“We’ll stay here. We’ve had a long life,” said Alexei, firmly.

“Well, he decides,” said Lubova.

“I told my wife she could leave with the children,” replied Alexei.

“My husband is sick. His legs hurt. He can’t walk. So, we’ll stay. But I’m scared. This war should never have happened,” said Lubova, before bursting into tears. “It’s awful. I’m so afraid. I’m afraid every night. I don’t know if we’ll survive this. I don’t know if Lysychansk, or Ukraine, will survive.”

Image Credit: Getty

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