Surrounded by government forces, the rebel-held city of Donetsk has become one of the focal points of the battle between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists. FRANCE 24 visited the city to see how life under siege is affecting its residents.
Searching through the burnt out ruins of his family home, Petro Stechenko, a builder, is trying to salvage whatever remains. The house was hit by six shells in total. Luckily, no one was in.
Petro says the shelling came from Ukrainian government positions.
"It's clear who did this. It came from the airport, which has been under the army’s control since May, and they've been firing non-stop from there,” he says.
Shrapnel from the shells has hit the surrounding buildings, including a church.
The streets of the city are largely deserted and everywhere there are traces of recent bombing.
‘Humanitarian crisis is intensifying’
“Look, look over there. That was the sports hall and youth centre, all the windows have been broken,” says Tatiana, a taxi driver.
But it is difficult for Tatiana to name those responsible – the army is invisible, but armed men move all around the city.
"That's a bazooka. A bazooka? Imagine that,” she says, pointing to a man in combat fatigues riding a motorcycle, a rocket launcher slung over his shoulder.
The rebels, for their part, point the finger at Kiev.
Inside a popular Donetsk bar, rebel chief Denis Pushilin explains the toll the battle for the city has taken.
"The humanitarian crisis is intensifying,” he says. “Plus we have problems with water, getting food supplies is also becoming very difficult. Kiev's goal is to put us under a blockade and I have to admit that they've partially succeeded."
As the army gets closer, many expect the combat to intensify. Here, it's already being called the Battle for Donetsk, a battle to determine which of these two camps will control this city.
Date created : 2014-08-19