From our correspondent
IZYUM A tangible gradual war is approaching the Donbass front. If it now seems distant in Kiev, and almost imperceptible if it were not for the occasional siren, the deserted streets already marked the other evening in Kharkiv and the curfew imposed at 11pm (instead of midnight as in Kiev and in the West) differed. but cruel devastation was imposed a little further south, in the vicinity of Izium. Houses in the suburbs show large gashes on the walls and ceilings, many of them reduced to rubble.
Almost all gas stations are black because of the fires; Gas station employees work at the pumps, which are sheltered under destroyed canopies and among the wreckage. On the roadsides and in the fields all around you can see the corpses of burning tanks and armored cars. At the gates of the center, there are long lines of military vehicles heading to the combat areas around Bakhmut. The soldiers rest in the timid sun and crowd the teahouses before leaving again.
The most depressing fact is that the city looks almost as it did when we arrived shortly after the Ukrainian army managed to liberate it from the Russians in the second week of September. It has nothing to do with the reconstruction frenzy one gets when visiting Bucha, Irpin, and the other cities destroyed by Russian soldiers north of Kiev.
In Izium, piled-up rubble still predominatesbullet-riddled buildings, grocery stores with cellophane instead of glass, deserted condominiums, little traffic, many old people and very few young people: a city as if asleep, frozen in waiting.
Says 53-year-old Valery Marchenko, who has been mayor since 2015 (and is in his second term) and tries to provide some data.
“Before the Russians could occupy Izium, at the beginning of April 2022 we had more than 50,000 inhabitants, and after seven months we expelled them, and a thousand local collaborators also fled with them,” he explains. But the urban fabric is destroyed. Of the nearly 200 tall buildings in the center, more than 110 were uninhabitable during the winter cold. 35 percent of the 14,000 private homes are destroyed or unusable. We had 11 schools, and 5 are still standing. Today, people are slowly returning, but our population is no more than 22,000, less than half of what it was before, ”he says. His temporary office has been set up on the first floor of an old abandoned kindergarten: the remains of the municipality dominate the fire-ravaged main square.
Moving forward towards Kramatorsk, devastation triumphs. All urban centers, even the smallest and isolated farms, appear to be in ruins, completely empty, and there is not even a single house intact. It is evident from her observation of the magnitude of the reconstruction work.
According to the Economic Institutes of Kiev University, the amount of damage caused to the country by the Russian invasion now exceeds 140 billion euros, of which 54 are for residential buildings, 36 for public infrastructures, more than 13 for private industry, 9 for schools and about ten buildings for energy structures. All data that will certainly be examined at the conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine, which will be held in Rome on April 26. To these sums must be added the money needed to clear whole regions of unexploded bombs, to filter the polluted water, to make the timber and, above all, the agricultural plots usable.
The entire fifty kilometers of the provincial road to Kramatorsk is sprayed Borders of red cranial markings indicate mined areasAbandoned Russian trenches can be seen among the plants. the Ukrainian military leaders estimate that the enemies have laid more than two million mines, which must now be recovered or detonated.
But the war was by no means over. Far from it: the damage is growing by the day. We’re back in Kramatorsk after two weeks away and we can still hear the rumble of fighting they can see. At this point, the Russians control the center of Bakhmut and are trying to completely encircle the Ukrainian units It is still witnessed in the western neighborhoods. According to the British Ministry of Defense, the Russians have now almost completely cut off the enemy’s supply routes. Russian missiles also hit the nearby city of Sloviansk yesterday.
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