People cling to life in Schastye, eastern Ukraine, amid periodic shelling incidents

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Despite fresh tensions that climbed up dramatically in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region since last week, people cling to life in Schastye town of the Luhansk region as shelling incidents continue every other moment.

Tatyana, 70, a resident of the government-held Schastye town, told Anadolu Agency that lots of people left the town so far.

“They either left or died. It’s terrible! The town is empty,” she said.

Noting that nearly 15,000 people used to live in the town before the war, Tatyana said now less than 1,000 residents are left in the area.

Tatyana said her son many times asked her to leave the town and move to the capital Kyiv.

“Of course, it’s horrible. We used to take refuge in a shelter last time. We just repaired the windows … now we need to leave everything and flee,” she said.

– ‘My son forgets his mother’s voice’

Anton Raznichenko, another resident of the town, recalled how his wife at the age of 28 was wounded on Aug. 31, 2016 by the pro-Russian separatists and passed away five days later.

In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.

“My son told his grandmother, my mom, that he forgets the voice of his mother,” Raznichenko said, barely hiding his tears.

“I’m fighting myself. I am indifferent now … whether Russia or Ukraine,” he asserted.

– ‘Where to go with single leg?’

Anatolyy, 70, recalled how early Tuesday a shell fell on the roof of a building just next to their flat on the fourth floor.

“We just had our breakfast. … There were explosions. (With the blast wave) my wife fell on the floor. The shelling fragment crashed all windows in the living room and kitchen,” he said.

Noting that his wife, 73, got her leg amputated few days ago due to the diabetes, Anatolyy said the surgical sutures on her leg were damaged with the blast wave and she started bleeding.

“They (pro-Russian separatists) were not shelling the town that much before but now … it’s first time today. Where can we move on (wife’s) single leg?” he said.

Anatolyy went on to say that no neighbors left their homes yet amid increased shelling incidents.

– Shelter

A family of three people hiding in the building’s basement — which they use as a bomb shelter — told that they have been hiding in the basement periodically for the past three days, adding that the shelling incidents started nearly one week ago.

“We live in a private house just opposite (the building). Our house is wooden and we are afraid that if a shell falls on it the house will just crash,” said a mother of a 20-year-old boy.

“We want to believe that we are safer here,” said her husband, a stove-maker, laying on the self-made berth in the basement of a Soviet-era building.

Although they hear the blasts outside, the family does not leave the shelter, they said, adding: “We haven’t settled here so we could go outside every other time and check what was hit by shelling.”

“It’s horrible … since 2014. We expect that it (the conflict) will be somehow settled and (the situation) would be better.”

– Use of prohibited weaponry

Bogdan, a 23-year-old Ukrainian military serviceman, said that for five days “the enemy” continues to destabilize the situation in the “area of responsibility” of Ukrainian soldiers.

He emphasized that the pro-Russian separatist forces attack the residential areas, using the weaponry restricted by the Minsk Agreements, including the artillery guns and mortars.

“A certain number of local residents left the settlement, but there are people who, for one reason or another, remain to live in Schastye,” he said.

Meanwhile, a power plant providing electricity to the town has been hit by the pro-Russian separatists several times, cutting electricity supply to the settlements.

After a speech late Monday saying Russia would recognize as independent the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would send troops to those areas in order to “maintain peace.”

The announcements drew widespread global condemnation as violations of the UN Charter and international law, with Western countries vowing to impose harsh new sanctions.

Putin’s latest moves follow Russia amassing some 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor, with the US and Western countries accusing it of setting the stage for an invasion.

Russia has denied it is preparing an invasion and instead claims that Western countries undermined its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

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