Eastern citizens of Ukraine prepare for Russian advances during the fighting

Mariya adds, “We know what’s coming,” as she puts away the TV in her Kostyantynivka apartment. Before traveling there with her kid, she is having it shipped to Kiev. “We have mood swings, panic attacks, and exhaustion all day. We’re afraid and it’s always depressing.” Russia took control of the vital town of Avdiivka in February. Since then, the attackers have captured many settlements as they have moved further west. According to Ukraine, its troops are “holding on”. On the 1,100-kilometer (700-mile) front line, however, five regions are currently under attack by Russian forces. And the greatest challenge for Ukraine’s defense is right here in the eastern Donetsk region.


People now have to deal with an increasingly close front line and even occupation in places like Pokrovsk, Kostyantynivka, and Kramatorsk. The closer the Russians get, the harder life gets for Mariya and her mother Tetyana. The menace that is 30 kilometers (19 miles) distant is clearly visible across their metropolis. Nearly every street has a dilapidated structure. Workers restore the gold panels on a cathedral that were shattered by a missile strike that also destroyed the nearby train station. This town, which was formerly the industrial center of the former Soviet Union, is filled with anxiety. As it attempts to annex Ukrainian cities, Russia gradually ruins them. Here, the greatest dread is that.


Tetyana, Mariya’s mother, is staying, but she’s sure Tetyana will accompany her eventually. From her apartment around the corner, a rebellious Tetyana asks, “I’ve already left twice, what’s the point?” Her house is immaculate because she offers us slippers to wear about. “Everywhere is frightening. The entire nation is ablaze.” Her eyes get wet. Staying put for as long as possible is one thing; running the risk of dying or being occupied by Russians is quite another. The Donetsk area, along with four others, is a battleground, even though the entirety of Ukraine is a conflict zone. It feels as though you are getting closer to the center of the fighting as you make your way through its vast, untamed landscape and impenetrable forest.


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