Russia: Cities in eastern Ukraine have become mousetraps | International

My family has been without electricity, water, heating, or internet connection for three days because Russian soldiers have destroyed all the infrastructure of the city in eastern Ukraine where they tried to take refuge from the war. Coverage is barely available. My aunt allows herself to make one call a day, in the morning, to give a full-fledged war report: “They have been shooting at night, we have hidden in the corridor where there are no windows, we are fine”. The rest of the time they have the mobile turned off so that the battery is not used up. If that happens, we don’t know when they might reload it.

The part of war this Tuesday has been especially hard. After three days, the city’s reservoirs are running out of the water they had stored. Since there is no electricity, they cannot be refilled. The neighbors, after days withstanding the gunfire and seeing how the Russian tanks moved through the streets, are entering a state of panic. In addition, misfortunes have the dishonorable tendency to always occur in chains and as if a war were not enough, for days my uncles and my cousin have been having a fever of up to 39 degrees, headache and sore throat. If they were here I would tell them to take a pharmacy test because it looks like covid. Being there, it doesn’t make any sense: the pharmacies are closed because it’s been days since they even ran out of paracetamol.

The possibility of escaping from the blockade has been extinguished like the weak flame of a candle. With the city surrounded and the advance of the soldiers in unstoppable and deadly columns of kilometers in length, nobody dares to get into a car to try to flee. Being without power and the internet makes the situation even more tense because the only thing you know are the tanks you see on the streets of your city, the bursts of gunfire you hear, the night bombardments and the anti-aircraft sirens, if any. You don’t know if Ukraine is still holding on or has already fallen. You don’t know if the city next door is safer than yours or is completely in ruins.

On the sixth day of the war, certainties run out. Although one is emerging more and more clearly: small Ukrainian cities and towns have not turned out to be safety sanctuaries but rather mousetraps. It is impossible to be safe in a country in total war. If my aunt has assumed the role of bringing us the daily information from the front, my uncle has decided, I don’t know if out of courage or because he has lost any hope in life, to go out once a day for water or to see how my grandmother, staying in a flat on the other side of the city. After fleeing Mariupol on day one of the war with a couple of jugs of water, everything they had in the fridge and a bag of underwear, they found 20 liters of gasoline. That same day, the gas stations were left without supplies and right now it is impossible to refuel the car.

Without light, the appliances we use every day become absolutely useless objects. There is no possibility to take a shower, make a coffee and then eat a yogurt from the fridge. My family has started to salt the meat they had so that it doesn’t spoil and they can eat something. I never thought that I would write a sentence like this in 2022. I never thought that one day I would be writing about the fact that my family is going hungry and cold in Europe while hiding in corridors, basements and bathtubs from Russian missiles.

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On the sixth day since the war began, any news of my family is expected and treasured as the most valuable jewel on the planet. It is never positive news, but if it reaches us, then they are alive.

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