“Shitty country, fuck…”, shouts a woman, in front of the body of a man killed in a bombardment on a residential district of Chuhouïv, in the east of Ukraine, epicenter of the offensive launched during the night by Russia.
Near the dead, his crying son, in his thirties, remains prostrate. “I told him to go,” he repeats endlessly, next to the twisted remains of an antediluvian Lada.
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The missile crater, 4-5 meters wide, is located between two totally destroyed five-storey buildings, while firefighters try to extinguish the last fires.
Several other buildings further away from the impact were also seriously affected, the windows broken, their uprights hanging in the air.
In this city located 30 km from Kharkiv, the second metropolis of Ukraine, the Russian bombardments resounded part of the night.
The police could not yet provide a report, but in the early morning, the damage was considerable. Thick black smoke is visible from afar and four buildings are completely gutted.
Sergei, 67, tries to block his windows with a table whose legs protrude into the void, on the ground floor of his apartment.
The man escaped with a few bruises. “I’m going to stay there, my daughter is in Kiev and it’s the same there,” he said, while explosions were also heard Thursday morning in the main cities of the country.
According to him, the missile targeted the nearby military airfield. “He was one of the targets that Putin had cited, I’m not even surprised,” he continues.
The Russian military said on Thursday it had destroyed air defense systems and “disabled” air bases across the country, without giving further details.
But the threat did not come only from the sky.
The much feared ground invasion also began on Thursday morning, according to Ukrainian border guards, notably by the east and the separatist region of Lugansk.
Among the Ukrainians of the region, prepared by eight years of armed conflict with the profuse separatist rebels, in this disaster scenario, everyone claims to know what to do.
“If they continue to bombard us, I will find weapons and defend my homeland, it does not matter if I am 62 years old”, threatens Vladimir Levachov, resident of Chuhouïv.
“And yet I am Russian. But if you look at history, if you read books, 300, 400 years ago it was already the same thing. The Russians are flayers!” he enrages.
On the main eastern roads, the Ukrainian army was everywhere. Between Kramatorsk and Kharkiv, a column of vehicles bearing the blue-yellow flag is stationary.
300 km away, Mariupol, the main port in the east of the country, powerful explosions shook the city, which has been relatively spared in recent weeks.
In the sector, the first evacuations begin, in particular from the small towns of Zoloty and Gorsky. “We will take people to the nearest station,” said Alexei Babchenko, spokesman for the civil defence.
But further away, in the town of Novotochkovka, such evacuations are now impossible. A few hours after the start of the offensive, Russian artillery fire was already too heavy and communications complicated.
“The offensive is underway along the entire demarcation line in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions,” Babchenko said. “Fighting is going on everywhere.”
“We cannot yet receive information about the victims, because there is no communication in this area”.