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Ukraine: the latest victim of the war Letters of News

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Vovchansk, a small town bisected by the Vovtjesa River, has been a regional tourist attraction. But it's also three miles from the Russian border. When Russia launched a cross-border offensive on May 10, the city became a stronghold for Ukrainian forces.

The front line still runs through Vovchansk, about 70% of which remains under Ukrainian control. A month of intense fighting and relentless bombing by Russia destroyed the city, forcing almost everyone who remained to flee.

Tetyana Polyakova speaks warmly about her hometown. She says that Vovtsyansk was awash in greenery, with trees and flowers on every street corner. He wrote that the fires had now destroyed the forest surrounding the city and the buildings remained like skeletons New York times.

– She says: There is nothing more Vovtsjansk.

Read more about the war in Ukraine here!

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Watch the video: About the Ukrainian attack: – It is not something you see every day!

Bombs are raining

The Russian attack in the north has raised fears in Ukraine and among the country's Western allies that any breakthrough could threaten Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city. The new front, in addition to the expansion of Ukrainian forces, threatens to reclaim areas in the region that Russia seized in March 2022.

While bombs and missiles rain down on Kharkiv and the region, an average of 20 Russian bombs fall on Vovchansk every day.

Kharkiv is still under threat, but the Russians have not been able to make as much progress as experts believe.

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On Monday, Lieutenant Denis Yaroslavsky, a commander stationed near Vovchansk with the Ukrainian 57th Brigade, confirmed that the Russians were still bombing the city but had made no progress toward capturing it.

A Ukrainian soldier guards an area on the outskirts of Vovchansk. Photo: Reuters/Ena Varenzia

Measure the buffer zone

It was always assumed that the scope of the Russian northern offensive was limited. President Vladimir Putin has stated that the goal here is to create a buffer zone along the border.

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Most experts believe that Russia's main goal in opening the northern front was to expand the scope of Ukrainian forces, remove some of them from the Donbas region, and weaken Ukrainian defenses there.

However, Russia was unable to exploit this tactic to seize large territories.

The last victim

Vovchansk now stands as the latest victim of this chaos. It joined the list of destroyed Ukrainian cities, although the destruction did not significantly change the military balance along the front.

“It took three weeks to do it with Vovchansk, and it took a year to do it with Bakhmuth,” says Sergeant Valerig.

He says he fought in Bakhmut for a year before it finally fell into Russian hands in May 2023.

Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Bokatar of the Ukrainian National Guard is also fighting in the northern Kharkiv region.

– During the three years of the war, I have been in many places, and everywhere the Russians use similar tactics, they destroy entire cities and villages. Bukatar says they create monuments to show success New York times.

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Khrystina Baymak (11) hugs her mother Oksana Velichko after the evacuation from Vovchansk, Ukraine, Sunday, May 12, 2024. Her husband was killed in their home after a Russian airstrike in the city.  Photo: AP/Evgeny Maloletka

Khrystina Baymak (11) hugs her mother Oksana Velichko after the evacuation from Vovchansk, Ukraine, Sunday, May 12, 2024. Her husband was killed in their home after a Russian airstrike in the city. Photo: AP/Evgeny Maloletka

– Hell has begun

Vovtjansk residents have already survived two winters without heating or running water, after being wounded in previous battles.

Many of those who stayed volunteered to distribute humanitarian aid to those in need. A high percentage of the remaining population was elderly, and relied on hot meals provided by the World Central Kitchen.

The city was being bombed regularly even before the latest attack on May 10. As for those who remained, despite the risks and difficulties, they decided not to leave their homes. And now they are forced to do so.

Even with more than two years of war, Polyakova managed to avoid evacuation. That changed last month, she says, when “all hell broke loose.”

The city's community centre, which served as a relief center during the war, was destroyed by bombs. Polyakova was working at the Vovchansk Cultural Center as a theater director. Now the building has been destroyed. Eventually the bombs hit her house as well.

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