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Elena: A Night in a Life Under Siege in Donetsk

Two full days in Donetsk, two significant shellings of civilian areas. Below is a full interview with a couple whose home was bombed.

Apr 30, 2022


A small grocery store on a residential boulevard was left in ruins by a direct hit from Ukrainian forces


Last night, as the day unwound, and this author sat at dinner with other journalists in Central Donetsk, we received word through social media that the western Petrovsky district has just been hit with nearly 80 Ukrainian shells, and that there were casualties and deaths.

Three of us jumped into a taxi, and headed to the scene, where we first found a small grocery store, smoking from the roof, completely destroyed. A small clean-up crew was inside, and one old woman, possibly the shopkeeper, stood alone, bewildered, not ready to speak to anyone. We were told that just behind the store, in a group of residential buildings, a school had been hit, thankfully after school hours, and that many residences had been damaged as well.

The dark hours made it difficult to capture the extent of the damage, the shrapnel and the smoke, but this image inside the grocery store illustrates how much destruction one hit can cause

When we arrived at the apartment building, we found an older couple, husband and wife, slowly cleaning up pieces of glass and wreckage at the main entrance. They were initially spooked by our arrival, thinking we could be Ukrainian military operatives in plain clothes, but when we provided our press credentials, they were eager to share their story, not just of what had happened that night, but of the previous eight years. The woman identified herself, by first name only, Elena, and she provided the bulk of the interview.

The full interview is linked below, but many themes repeated themselves:

  • That this kind of attack is a daily occurrence for the residents of Donbass, who considered themselves Ukrainians, and that this was the case years before Russia’s Special Operation began

  • That US/EU arms shipments are the primary cause of the continued death and destruction

  • That their lives have to continue, children and all, and that the horror of war has become normal

Elena and her husband were incredibly gracious; we toured their apartment, in a building of 60 units, which was indeed attached to a school. Their balcony had been destroyed, adjacent to a room where there grandchildren had slept just the night before.

Bruno Carvalho, a Socialist journalist from Portugal, and Eva Bartlett, a Canadian journalist with RT who had previously reported on similar scenarios in both Gaza and Syria, joined me on location.

As we parted, they saw us off warmly, they entreated us to share their stories with the West in any way we could, and they wished us Peace.

Here is the full video:

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