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Many Ukrainians with children and older relatives remain in Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine. Between the loud thuds of artillery shells landing a few blocks away, dozens of people emerged from a communal shelter in this eastern Ukrainian city Saturday to receive packets of food from a red armored van crewed by a group of volunteers. Lysychansk, an industrial city with a prewar population of around 100,000, is quickly becoming the focal point of Russia’s slow and methodical advance in Ukraine’s east. But in Lysychansk, a city in Ukraine’s resource-rich and predominantly Russian-speaking Donbas region, the complaint that the Ukrainian government has abandoned them to the advancing Russian forces is also present. “Your Kyiv government gave up on us,” said one older woman before she received a white bag of food from the back of the van. For months, residents here have been cut off from cellphone networks because they were damaged by fighting, as well as from gas, water and electricity systems. One of the volunteers, Mykhailo Dobrishman, said it was his tenth trip to Lysychansk in recent weeks.
“As we hand out the packs of food, we try to persuade them to evacuate,” he said. One teenager at the shelter, who wore a yellow T-shirt and said her name was Victoria, tried to convince her mother to leave. For 15 minutes, the mother and daughter debated in front of the industrial building used as a communal shelter, while several artillery shells whistled over their heads. In the street near the shelter there were freshly dug rectangular holes in the ground. But some older neighbors said they believed the holes were graves for people expected to be killed by shelling. It is unclear how many civilians have been killed or wounded in Lysychansk by Russian bombardments. Not far from the shelter was a Soviet-style apartment block occupied by Ukrainian soldiers.
Outside the building, a military doctor named Sergiy, who had arrived in Lysychansk a few days earlier with a Ukrainian unit, said they were bracing for an assault. Having served in different frontline cities of Ukraine since the beginning of invasion, the doctor said he could not explain why so many people chose to stay in a city that has been shelled incessantly for weeks. “People are riding bicycles here, children are running around,” he said. Luda, 52, an energetic woman who had emerged from the communal shelter, where about 50 people were staying, said she was resolved to remain. “This is our Ukrainian land where we were born and spent our lives,” she said.
Read full article at The New York Times