Ukraine War: Growing Fear and No Time to Cry in Russia’s Next Target City | world news

Mass graves in the city of Lysychansk are an indication of the massacre that took place in the Donbass.

And the long, empty, freshly dug trenches bear witness to where locals fear the war is headed east Ukraine – and what terrors are yet to come.

The dead are piling up, Russian troops are advancing, and there seems to be little the Ukrainian forces can do to stop their advance.

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Katarina, 74, is taken out of the area by the police. She sobbed as she left.

Every day, the police from the Luhansk region bring new corpses here to join the pitiful and growing mountain of victims of this war.

“There are men, women, children…everyone is in there,” one of the officers told us as we stood by the informal grave.

There is no time for mourning, no time for the traditional farewell. There is little formality.

The last tranche of victims – 14 of them – lay piled on top of each other, wrapped in white body bags, which are not enough to mask the stench of rotting bodies.

“We keep everything on a database,” Luhansk police chief Oleh Hryhorov told us. He is moved to have to bury people in large numbers like this. But there is no choice.

“We have to understand what it means not to bury people,” he explains. “It will lead to infection. It’s bodies and it’s hot (the weather).”

Ukrainian troops move away from Lysychansk
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Ukrainian troops move away from Lysychansk

He says they are trying very hard to identify them and notify relatives, so they can get a death certificate.

“With the will of God,” he continues, “relatives will be able to find out where their loved ones are buried and bury them separately, much later.”

When this is the case, no one at this stage knows. But that doesn’t seem anytime soon.

Residents and police of Lysychansk can see and hear the pounding which is visited in nearby Severodonetsk, their twin city, which is now at the center of Russian military action.

Map of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk

Huge plumes of black smoke rise from downtown. All roads in and out of the city are impassable at the moment and under constant bombardment. There are reports of Russian troops inside the city walls and firing on civilians and aid workers.

Those of Lysychansk watch nervously. They know they will be next. The Russians will also come for them.

The city is already riddled with scars from shelling and rocket attacks. Broken shops, overturned houses, roads with craters and downed power lines. The humanitarian hub set up has been affected in recent days, as well as dozens of civilian homes.

Georgiy Bystrov, who is a surgeon, shows us the banks of unpacked masks that have been donated
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Georgiy Bystrov, who is a surgeon, shows us the banks of unpacked masks that have been donated

Aid workers are tense and worried when we talk to them. Georgiy Bystrov, who is a surgeon, shows us the banks of unpacked masks that have been donated, and takes us to see boxes and boxes of syringes.

“What good is all this to us?” he said plaintively. “We have no hospital, no doctors, no medicine.” I ask him if he has lost hope. He warns me. “You ask me that question knowing the answer,” he says. “You saw what happened in the town of Rubizhne. You saw what happened there.”

Read more:
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Fear, suspicion and divided loyalties in the city where the situation spirals out of control

Less than a week ago, the Russian army took control of Rubizhne, a few kilometers further north, in the same region of Luhansk, and the head of the state administration, Serhiy Haidai, said that the Russian troops had completely destroyed it.

There are no surviving buildings there, he said. Now residents of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk fear the same will happen to them.

The police take Katerina out of her house to a relatively safe place
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The police take Katarina out of her house to a relatively safe place.

We watch as the police chief and his men try to persuade Katarina, 74, to accompany them, so they can be taken out of town to a relatively safer place beyond. She sobbed as she left.

“Why do I have to go?” she asks. “Where am I going? What will I do ? »

She and her husband, who is 84 and suffers from dementia, are fending for themselves with little to eat and no electricity or water. The police try to reassure her that she will be taken care of.

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She gathers several plastic bags. It’s all they have left of a lifetime of working and living here now.

“My parents lived through the occupation,” she says, crying. “It was nothing as terrible as that. I wish I was dead.”

Alex Crawford’s team in Ukraine is made up of cameraman Jake Britton and producers Chris Cunningham, Artem Lysak, Nick Davenport and Misha Cherniak.

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