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Inside the defiant city standing between Russian invaders and one of Putin's key objectives

You must travel at a fast pace to reach Severodonetsk, Ukraine.

This route traverses vast tracts of open land that leaves vehicles vulnerable and exposed to attack.

This is a dangerous journey as the Russiantry and cut off the only route to the city. The last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the war zone is Luhansk.

It is the smaller of the two regions that make up the Donbas Region – and it’s what the Russians seem determined to seize.

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You can see evidence of Russian aggression by the number of vehicles that have been torched and upturned along the route.

Their military failures elsewhere, in Kyiv or Kharkiv, has made their victory here in Donbas more important.

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Luhansk has been almost taken by the Russians, who have bombarded it with bombs and claimed control over large swathes.

Severodonetsk, however, is the city that stands in the way of the invaders advancing into the second Donbas…and Donetsk.

This industrial city was once home to around 100,000 civilians.

However, there are still a few thousand civilians living in the area, despite constant booms, booms, booms of rockets, artillery, and artillery.

Image: Oleh Hryhorov, Luhansk police chief


“This is my home”

We are with Oleh Hryhorov the Luhansk chief police officer, who is trying to convince some people still wanting to go with him to an area where Russians don’t concentrate their firepower.

Maria, an elderly woman who has been crying for over a year now, refuses to leave her home. Her eyes are red from constant crying and are causing swelling.

“Why should you leave?” She says, “This is my home. “I don’t know where to go.”

Family members are busy saying their final goodbyes and sobbing into one another’s arms. They are wondering when and if they will ever see one another again.

Image To avoid any negative impact on the hospital’s shell, patients must shelter in corridors.

A father sends his mother-in law and his teenage daughter to the country.

Although he appears calm, he flinches when the rocket’s whistle is heard too clearly. This is followed by a frightening crunch as it land nearby.

He says, “That was close,” as he attempts to make what appears to be vegetable soup outside on an open fire.

Residents have been isolated from the outside world for weeks, now living in extremely difficult circumstances without power, communications or running water.

Although some residents were able to get aid supplies delivered, the road is becoming more dangerous.

They’re still taking each day in their own way.

There is no other choice. Many people talk about their responsibilities to older relatives and how they refuse leave.

Image: In Severodonetsk, there is no electricity or running water. People who are left behind must cook outside with improvised wood stoves.


The Ukrainian defense hasn’t stopped Russian advance

The Ukrainians tried to slow down the Russians’ progress…by planting mines, and blowing up last railway bridge linking the Russian-held territory to Severodonestsk.

However, the Russians are continuing to march through the Donbas despite the temporary setback.

European politicians’ suggestions of granting Donbas to stop the war are met by disdain by the people living in the region.

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“Why would they do that?” Hryhorov, chief of police.

“This is our land. Our land. Our homes. It’s almost like someone visiting your home and telling you no. It’s ours right now. You would fight for your family, your home.”

It is impossible to give up.

Image The Severodonetsk’s only hospital has been shelled multiple times in the past few weeks

He takes us to the only hospital that is still in operation in the city. This is where Alex Rossi, my Sky News colleague and his team were just three weeks ago.

Since then, there has been a rapid deterioration. The main hospital building has been damaged by fires from rocket explosions.

To protect the blast victims, the medics have to constantly move patients. There are 40 more patients who still need treatment.

Between the hospital buildings, there is unexploded ordnance. The front of one block is covered in broken glass and crumpled steel. The attacks continue.

International law considers targeted attacks on civilians, medics, or hospitals a war crime.

Image Julia Kisel, the last remaining doctor at Severodonetsk Hospital

Continue reading:

The Battle of the Donbas

US instructs allies to move “heaven and Earth” to send more weapons

Many patients sleep in beds that are stacked along the corridor walls. This is to protect them from any blasts that could send dangerous shards everywhere.

A young woman is taking care of them, claiming she is the only doctor on site and leading a small group of medical staff.

But Dr Yulia Kirsel insists that she will stay here to help her elderly patients until they are no longer in need. She promises, “I will remain with my patients,” she says, “As long they’re here I’ll stay there.”

If they want to stop the Russians from coming to their shores, the Ukrainians will mount a strong counter-offensive. We depart to the same sound that accompanied our arrival…a new barrage of artillery strikes.


: Alex Crawford reports from Severodonetsk, with Jake Britton as cameraman, and producers Chris Cunningham (Artem Lysak), Nick Davenport, Misha Cherniak

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