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'We cannot just cry here': Inside the city with no escape after Russians destroyed its only bridges

Chernihiv has been without electricity and running water for more than two weeks – but those trapped in the besieged city are united in their fight to survive the Russian invasion.

The northern city has been under attack since the early days of the invasion due to its strategic location on the road from the Belarusian border to the capital Kyiv.

In the last week, Russia destroyed its only bridges, cutting off the last route for civilians to flee, or for food and medicine to be brought in.

Ukraine live updates: ‘Guerrilla war’ to be launched in Russian occupied territories


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Last escape route out of Chernihiv destroyed

Speaking to Sky News, volunteer Kseniia Chernoskutova said: “Humanitarian supplies we cannot get. Petrol and gasoline we cannot get, which makes our lives not very good for sure.

“And despite the fact of the war being here, people need to eat something, to drink something. They need to have places like shelters to stay during the rocket strikes.

“So we are providing these places.

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“In our shelters we have people who lost their homes because they were destroyed by missile attacks and shelling, and we are giving them this place to stay.

“We have the people with disabilities, we have old people who cannot walk by themselves, and we need to take care of them. Someone needs to take care of them.”

Read more: No way out for 150,000 people trapped in city of ‘hell’ Chernihiv

Despite reports of continued shelling, Russia’s advance appears to have stalled

The city’s mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said Russian forces have bombed residential areas from low altitude in “absolutely clear weather” and “are deliberately destroying civilian infrastructure including schools, kindergartens, and churches”.

And refugees who reached Poland this week said that with utilities knocked out, people are taking water from the Desna river to drink and that strikes are killing people while they wait in line for food.

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Ms Chernoskutova added: “We cannot just cry here – we have to do something because someone needs to do it. It would be hard to help other people to stay optimistic and that it will end soon and everything will be OK.

“People try to do their best to help everyone. We got united and got connected with this situation, and we do all we can to help each other.

“Like, if you see an old lady outside, surely you will come up to her to find out if you can help. Maybe you could help get her water. Some people go walking outside, asking people if they need bread or food.”

Rescuers remove debris from a school building damaged by shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 7, 2022. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Rescuers remove debris from a school building damaged by shelling on 7 March

More than half of the city’s 280,000 inhabitants have already fled, and hundreds who stayed have been killed.

The invasion has driven more than 10 million people from their homes – almost a quarter of Ukraine‘s population.

More than 3.7 million have fled the country entirely, according to the United Nations. Thousands of civilians are believed to have died.


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