Russia Took the City. Now It’s Coming for Their Villages.

Villagers living near the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka listened with dread in recent weeks to the sound of the bombs falling there, knowing their troops were taking a pounding and their villages were next in line.

Now the chances of bombs landing on them are growing by the day. Russian troops captured Avdiivka 12 days ago and the front line has shifted westward, threatening the next Ukrainian farms and villages that lie in their path.

“It is very tense right now,” said Oleksandr Kobets, a farmer who was butchering a pig in his yard. “You wake up several times a night. They are coming closer and closer.”

The loss of the eastern city of Avdiivka has been a blow for Ukraine, coming amid declining Western support and a shortage of weaponry that left its outnumbered soldiers also outgunned. But for the farmers and miners and their families who live in this nearby stretch of towns and villages, Russia’s sudden advance is upending already hard lives, leaving them poised to flee.

“We are sitting on our suitcases,” Mr. Kobets said.

Oleksandr Kobets butchering a pig in a village west of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Life in this province, Donetsk, has been disrupted by almost a decade of war and many families have fled the region because of poverty and joblessness as much as from the conflict. But so long as Ukraine’s defenses held for the most part around Avdiivka, many farmers and pensioners hung on, since it was cheaper to live in their own homes than pay rent in a city, and they could live off the land.

Related Articles

Back to top button