Rowing previous their severed street bridge, Ukrainians return to liberated villages By Reuters

© Reuters. Native residents take a ship throughout the Pechenizhske Reservoir subsequent to a destroyed bridge, amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine, within the village of Staryi Saltiv in Kharkiv area, Ukraine September 27, 2022. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy

By Vitalii Hnidyi

STARYI SALTIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian volunteer Vitalii Kivirenko masses a small rowing boat with tins of meals and provides by the village of Staryi Saltiv, on the Pechenizhske Reservoir, northeast of Kharkiv, able to make a brief journey that was unthinkable just some weeks in the past.

After Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops again from the japanese banks of the reservoir, reverse Staryi Saltiv, in a counter offensive earlier this month, volunteers and kinfolk can lastly attain these in remoted villages on the opposite facet, and a few of those that fled are returning house.

Rowing is the simplest choice for crossing the water and delivering flour, sugar, oil and gasoline for turbines, after Staryi Saltiv’s street bridge was blasted in two by Ukrainian forces simply days into Russia’s invasion, to attempt to halt the Russian troops’ advance.

The bridge as soon as related to the city of Vovchansk, just some kilometres from the Russian border.

Reaching the opposite facet by street would contain an enormous detour across the reservoir created on the Siverskyi Donets River by a dam additional south at Pechenihy and take nearly six hours.

Kivirenko and different volunteers row previous the hulking stays of the bridge, its railings painted within the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, within the driving rain.

“The shelling right here was so robust; you could not even get shut. The shelling was fixed, about 80% of housing is destroyed,” Kivirenko mentioned, referring to situations in Staryi Saltiv.

Regardless of the destruction of the bridge, Russian forces nonetheless took Staryi Saltiv and occupied it till Might, when it was retaken by Ukrainian forces. The world remained underneath fixed artillery hearth from Russians on the east financial institution till their retreat in September.

“We’re completely happy to go house. Finally, it occurred,” mentioned Serhii Negrovyi, returning by boat to his house on the east financial institution together with his spouse, son and child daughter.

“My baby was born in February. She was born February eleventh. After which it [the Russian invasion] started. That is how we lived, underneath shelling.”

His spouse Olena, described the state of affairs in her village.

“It was troublesome. The neighbour’s home bought shelled, then the home subsequent to it. There have been explosions within the neighbour’s yard,” she mentioned.

“Thank God the youngsters are high-quality. I’m going house, thank God,” she mentioned.

Russia struck the Pechenihy dam final week utilizing short-range ballistic missiles or comparable weapons, in keeping with the British army.

Hundreds have been killed and Ukrainian cities decreased to rubble since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 for what it referred to as a “particular army operation”. Moscow denies concentrating on civilians.

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