Infobae in the Donbas: a year with the sounds of war and the claim that it managed to change an alarm

Between snow and dirt roads, the few inhabitants who remain in the area come across heavily armed soldiers who arrive from all parts of the country to defend the Donbas (Photos: Franco Fafasuli) (Franco Fafasuli /)

(Kramatorsk, special envoy). If one lost their hearing in the middle of the war, the situation would be different. The crosswind of winter combined with the explosion of artillery, added to the muzzle flashes of AK-47s or Himars missiles, the way the ground shakes when something comes out, or the way it rumbles when something falls… all that can end up driving you crazy.

However, Ukrainian soldiers don’t even turn their heads anymore when a bang is heard. Everyone in the Donbas area repeats the same magic formula: “If he has to touch you, he will touch you”; “If one falls on you, it’s your destiny.” It is the way in which they face one of the toughest tasks that a human being can have: expose your life in front.

Tour Donbas - Infobae in Ukraine
Signs indicating mined land a few meters from the route to the Donbas. (Franco Fafasuli/)

In Kramatorsk today you see almost exclusively soldiers. It is still a lively city, there is public transport, some people walk on the street, but the vehicles that move are almost all affected by the war. And those who don’t, crossed by it. Hard to say how many of his 150 thousand inhabitants, many left and others spend their lives confined to their homes. Silence rarely accompanies them, some nights are quieter but almost always a siren or two sounds, and the most prudent go down to the shelter. Until a few weeks ago, the alert siren lasted the entire time of the threat, but nobody could stand it. There were so many complaints that they decided to sound each alarm twice: once at the beginning of the possible attack and once at the end. In this way, the neighbors can hear more than the sounds of war, but there are the cars that rush by making noises in the snow; there are the marching tanks hitting the asphalt; there is the artillery, in the distance, or less and less.

Tour Donbas - Infobae in Ukraine
A man waits in a corner of Izium while smoking. Behind him, one of the many buildings hit by Russian artillery (Franco Fafasuli /)

In BakhmutAt 50 kilometers by road but roughly 30 in a straight line, the situation is dramatically worse. Those who continue to live there is because they conscientiously decided put your life at risk. Even the NGOs in charge of the evacuation no longer have permission to enter, they can only reach neighboring towns, which are also bombarded, and where there are constant noises. It is that in the Donbas it is clearer than in any other area of ​​the country that the Ukraine and Russia is being a war led by the artillery. For this reason, since they are not very precise weapons, destruction spreads to every corner that adjoins a battle.

According to the official report distributed by the Ukrainian army, on the 362nd day of the war, battles continue on a large scale throughout the southeast front from the country. Russia is focused on destroying Ukrainian infrastructure critical to the functioning of the state, relentlessly bombing both military formations and small disputed towns. The report released on February 20 included 10 missile attacks, 25 aircraft attacks and 62 MLRS (multiple rocket launcher) attacks. The greatest efforts of the invading troops were concentrated on Bakhmut, Kup’yansk, Lyman, Avdiivka and Shakhtarskand maintain their attempts to advance in the region of Kharkiv, Donetsk and luhansk.

Tour Donbas - Infobae in Ukraine
A woman passes with her bicycle in front of one of the open shops in the recently liberated town of Balakliya (FRANCO FAFASULI /)

On the other hand, the Ukrainian Forces denounce that in the occupied zones of the region of Khersonthe Russians installed administrative buildings where they would be carrying out detentions of Ukrainian citizens accused of cooperating with the Defense Forces of their country. It is something that many inhabitants of towns that were occupied by the Russians and later recovered have already denounced. Beatings, imprisonment and attempts to organize hasty elections are some of the items in the Kremlin soldiers’ manual of use.

On the defense side, Ukrainian aviation carried out 20 attacks in a single day: they launched 7 anti-aircraft missiles and shot down two other objects in the air, in addition to a Su-25 plane, two Orlan unmanned planes, and 2 kamikaze drones. That balance is as of February 20, but it is updated every noon, in an attempt to show the world their ability to damage if helped with weapons.

Tour Donbas - Infobae in Ukraine
A completely burnt out car, one of the typical postcards that welcome this region of the country (Franco Fafasuli /)

So far in the war, a few days before reaching the first anniversary, the Ukrainian forces estimate that Russia has already lost 143,680 soldiers, 3,316 tanks, 6,553 armored vehicles, 2,334 artillery systems, 471 multiple rocket launchers (MLRS), 243 air defense systems, 299 aircraft, 287 helicopters, 873 cruise missiles, 18 ships and 5,209 fuel vehicles. As usual, the Kremlin does not report its own casualties, it is a government policy to keep the morale of the troops high and not give details about the state of the army.

What nobody knows is when the sirens of war will stop soundingwhen will be the day when silence is no longer a disturbing threat waiting to know if it was your destiny or not, and it will become, once again, the simple form of calm.

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Infobae in the Donbas: journey into the bowels of the war and a love for Russia that was lost forever