Today I have two short pieces, both with a similar theme: The effect on civilians, and how they survived these weeks of ferocious fighting, resulting in the Russian victory in Soledar. In reading both pieces, one must keep in mind just how much the Ukrainian Nationalists loathe the people who live in the Donbass. At times it is a visceral hatred, they barely even regard those people as human beings. Western propaganda portrays the noble Ukrainian soldier as a “Defender of the Motherland”, fighting against foreign invaders and occupiers. And yet, when stationed on Donbass soil, eyewitness after eyewitness shows the Ukrainian soldier to possess the mentality of an Occupier himself, not a Defender.
Pushilin Meets His New Constituents
Now that Soledar has been ripped from the hands of the Ukrainian army (with horrendously huge losses on the Ukrainian side – some estimates go as high as 14,000 killed just in this one operation), we come to remember that actual people used to live there. KP reporters Nikita Makarenkov and Pavel Khanarin introduce us to some of the survivors. And we can tell these are real people, not fashion models, because they are not pretty at all, they are care-worn and rather ordinary looking.
Yesterday (January 14) DPR Chief Denis Pushilin [Russian press has taken to calling him vrio Glavy which means “Acting Head”, there is obviously some political implication there] visited a group of his new constituents from Soledar and the Artyomovsk area. Not long ago, these were Ukrainian citizens, now they are (or will soon be) Russian citizens. They were evacuated during the fighting and reside temporarily in the Donetsk town of Shakhtersk, in shelters that were set up for them. Like the good politician that he is, Pushilin came bearing gifts, including Christmas toys for the children.
Pushilin: “I am very glad that you are all alive, that’s the main thing! Let me tell you the news from Soledar, and I am sorry to inform you, but this has been the constant pattern that we keep seeing over and over again: Mariupol, Volnovakha, other populated areas. The Ukrainian militants destroy people and infrastructure, and they do this particularly hard when they are retreating. It is a shame that it has to be this way but we residents of the Donbass, we understand very well that we will restore and rebuild everything. All the more so, because we are now part of Russia!”
A female resident: “Convey our greetings to the lads. We are very grateful to them. They saved our lives.”
A young girl: “I had to hide out in the cellar for 8 months. Both of my legs had been injured and I couldn’t move around very well. Thank goodness I had my Aunt Nina with me. On January 11 the [Russian] soldiers led us out of our hiding place and into a different hiding place. From there, they gradually evacuated us, one by one. They took the elderly first, the injured, the children. Please thank them for saving our lives.”
Another female resident: “My daughter and her children were evacuated earlier, to Berdyansk. I am planning to join her there. After that, we will just have to start our lives all over again.” [weeps]
With emotions and tears flowing, this turned into a group psychotherapy session. While the children played with their gifts, the adults opened up about everything they saw and endured: The Ukrainian soldiers were completely undisciplined, they would randomly shoot at peaceful civilians, and destroy infrastructure.
A resident of the Artyomovsk district: “As they were retreating, the Ukrainians set up their guns one last time, just to shoot wildly at the town of Otradovka; and then they packed up and left.”
A woman: “They would go down into the cellars and shoot people. Or just toss a grenade into the cellar. If the grenade missed, they would go down and kill the people.”
After meeting with these civilians, Pushilin spoke to the press. He said that Soledar would shortly be included in the DPR administrative zone of responsibility. Any residents possessing a Soledar registration card, would be eligible for all the social services provided to DPR citizens. “These people have nothing left, except for their lives. But the most important thing, is that they were saved. Our main task right now is to assist them with everything they need, especially helping them put their official documentation together. People asked a lot of questions about getting work. I explained to them that our Republic has a great need for people who work in the construction field. We especially need healthy males who are willing to take on temporary work in the construction brigades that we are forming.”
How The Ukrainians Erased Opytnoe Off The Map
The stories and eyewitness accounts are all the same, and all show the same pattern. Of retreating Ukrainians, like a dying Samson, trying to take everything down with them, as they leave. They also recount the wasteful squandering of ammunition by the Ukrainian army, who apparently forget that everything they have and use, every bullet, is a gift from some other nation; so you would think they would learn to conserve, but no…
Reporters interviewed a local resident of the town of Opytnoe, his name is Alexander Shcherbin. Opytnoe is a key town in the Artyomovsk chain, which recently fell to the Russian army. Shcherbin survived the fighting and was recently evacuated to the city of Shakhtersk (same place where Pushilin met with the people in above story).
Shcherbin told reporters how the Ukrainian soldiers set up a machine gun on a jeep and just kept shooting wildly at the town, at anything and everything. “The whole town was simply levelled to the ground. It would be a miracle if even one house remained. There was one incident: They were driving around in their armored vehicle, a woman asked them to leave, they retreated around 15 meters, then turned the turret around and shot directly into her house. This was a normal thing for them to do.”
Shcherbin remembered also that the Ukrainian troops would shell the town from some location in a different town, around one kilometer away. Which also happened to be occupied by Ukrainians troops. Almost as if they were shooting at each other. They would always aim for the apartment complexes. “It was almost like they were playing a game among themselves. Maybe it was fun for them, I don’t know. Or maybe they just had a lust to destroy everything.”