‘It’s hottest here’: One man’s perilous mission on Ukraine’s frontline

World

As the cold autumn rain drizzles down, volunteer Andrei Seletskii loads his car with humanitarian supplies.

He is now the only help getting through to the frontline villages in this part of Kherson region, but getting the food, medicine, water and warm clothing to the people there is not easy.

Iran admits sending weapons to Russia after denials – Ukraine war latest

He said: “There is daily shelling almost every hour, because the frontline is located near Dudchany.

“It is the hottest and hardest there.

“We had the same situation around August when the frontline was in Novovorontsovka.

“We had casualties, there was a lot of destruction.”

More on Ukraine

Once his car is loaded, he starts the perilous journey.

The reports he’s getting on the road are that there is a lull in the shelling, but he needs to be quick – danger is never far away.

He drives across flat open roads.

All around him, fields of what should have been watermelons are now the boggy terrain of this conflict.

Day 255

When he arrives in Dudchany the villagers quickly emerge to meet him.

The war here is getting worse and so is the suffering.

Liudmila Potyshniak, 58, is first to greet him.

She’s terrified and very upset, and tells us the fighting now is relentless and the shelling indiscriminate.

Her head is covered by a black scarf.

She’s still mourning her husband, another victim of this brutal war.

As she speaks, tears start to roll down her cheeks.

Liudmila Potyshniak
Image:
Liudmila Potyshniak’s husband was killed in a missile strike

‘They don’t bomb only soldiers’

She said: “My husband was killed by a missile. A missile came and the whole farm, all the cows, all the sheep, everything that was there died.

“They did it on purpose.

“They just launched these missiles that explode.

“Phosphorus missiles were fired at us yesterday and the day before yesterday.”

As we move through the village, it is clear that the situation is simply desperate.

We can hear the thunder of battle intermittently in the background.

And what Andrei hands out will be the only supplies they get here until he can get through to this place again.

He said: “It’s very dangerous because artillery of Russians is very stupid because the bombing is anywhere, they don’t bomb only soldiers.

“Yesterday, four people died on the street.”

Andrei Seletskii hands out will be the only supplies they get here until he can get through to this place again
Image:
Andrei provides the only supplies villagers get here until he can get through again

Is Russia retreating or deceiving?

The seesaw fighting here in the south of Ukraine, like everywhere else, is taking an enormous toll.

Most people have fled these places.

Their homes left in ruins, creating a huge refugee crisis in the heart of Europe.

And at the centre of this battle in the south is the strategically and symbolically important occupied city of Kherson, where there are signs the Kremlin may be losing its grip.

The Russian flag has been taken down from the administrative building, and checkpoints appear to have been abandoned overnight.

The question for Ukraine’s military is this: Is it a sign of retreat, or an act of deception to draw them in to a new and terrible kill zone?

What is clear is the artillery duels are intensifying, with sides girding themselves for another bloody fight.

We meet Private Uri, who covers his face because his family are still trapped in occupied territory.

He’s confident Ukraine can and will win, but not without enormous sacrifice.

Private Uri covers his face because his family are still trapped in occupied territory
Image:
Private Uri covers his face because his family are still trapped in occupied territory

He said: “Shelling actually has increased in the past several days. So the civilians are struggling.

“I spoke to like five people from the village of Zolota Balka this morning, and it’s been the hardest since the beginning of war, they say, and it’s only like 15km away.

“So the troops are advancing, but the battles are as hard as they go, and the people are suffering.”

Read more:
Ghost cities on a long, lonely road
Inside Ukraine’s WWI-style trenches

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Will Russia withdraw from Kherson?

But for all the progress, the conditions for civilians are becoming unbearable.

Russia’s targeting of energy and water infrastructure is a cruel escalation.

The damage in many places too great to fix before winter arrives.

It is the people that are being made to suffer.

Articles You May Like

Meet the rising stars shortlisted for Brit Award previously won by Adele, Sam Smith and Celeste
Toyota secures funding to develop hydrogen fuel cell version of its Hilux pickup in the UK
England knock Wales out of World Cup with 3-0 win
Kyiv mayor’s blunt message to residents after heat and water supplies knocked out for days
Why Silicon Valley is so hot on nuclear energy and what it means for the industry