Editor’s Note: Residents of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region are sifting through the rubble of their homes today after Russian strikes hit the city center for the first time in a month. Early this morning, seven strikes devastated a residential area and a building just down the street from the administrative center. At least 25 people were wounded and six were taken to hospitals after the strikes in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to the head of Donetsk regional military administration. In the courtyard of a five-story residential complex, a large munition hit a water and sewage facility, leaving a three-meter-deep crater. Our Ukrainian correspondent, Pavel Kuljuk, is safe. His report follows.
Should Kuljuk’s reports matter to residents of Red Hook? We think so.
Today at 3:20 a.m., there was a new rocket attack on Kramatorsk. Two of the seven explosions hit residential areas — Ostap Cherry Street and Palace Street. These streets are located in that part of Kramatorsk called “Sotsgorod.” The rest of the explosions took place in an industrial zone. I own an apartment inside a building at 22 Dvortsovaya St. Fortunately, this house was not damaged. But the neighboring buildings at 6 and 10 Dvortsovaya suffered very badly, with broken windows and glass (see photos). In total, nine five-story residential buildings were damaged in residential areas of the city. One school was also damaged.
The explosions were so strong that Sveta and I woke up. It was still dark outside. The window is right next to our bed. We could immediately see how bright the skies were, and noisy activities were unfolding on the street. Sveta, my wife, became very excited and got out of bed. She immediately got a call from her friend, Elena, who also lives in Ivanovka. Social networks reported that the explosions were in Sotsgorod, about 4.5 miles away from us. Therefore, Sveta calmed down a little. She went to bake bread and do yoga. I realized that I am safe. I fell asleep for another three hours.
When I woke up, I went in for sports. And then I went to Malotaranovka, where you surely remember, that my cat, Dora, lives alone. When I was in Malotaranovka, I began to hear machine gunshots nearby. I don’t know who was shooting as there were no soldiers in sight. I think it was the air defense system that fired at the reconnaissance drone of the Russian army. After that, several more explosions sounded in the distance. But there is no information about what this was. We are already accustomed to explosions. Usually, we hear more than 10 a day, in the same fashion that we also constantly hear artillery cannonade. The sites of the explosions themselves are not visible. It is relatively far away. This has been going on for over five weeks now. Therefore, everyone is used to explosions. But today’s shelling was not normal, since the rockets fell into a residential area.
Now, just a few hours later, everyone has already forgotten this event. On social networks, people are focused on where you can get a haircut or a manicure. People are asking each other where to buy alcoholic drinks this evening. Only 20 percent of stores have been operating in the city center of Kramatorsk in the last week or so; but in Ivanovka, four of five shops are open, and in Malotaranovka, all are open.
There is enough available to buy everything you need, but it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. Also in the city, while the market is open, prices have hit such a high level that people can’t afford them; I feel that the prices simply can’t go any higher. People can’t afford these expensive products. For example, cucumbers cost 110 hryvnias. This is almost twice as expensive as before the war. And a box of matches costs 50 cents as does toilet paper, both twice the pre-war price. People now use newsprint instead of toilet paper, and they save and reuse matches. Candles have risen in price the most. The price of one candle can be one dollar, three times more expensive than before the war. Sveta is angry whenever I buy candles at these prices.
You may hear otherwise, but to me, life in Kramatorsk is no more dangerous than in the rest of Ukraine. The day before yesterday, the Russians shelled the western regions of Ukraine, as well as the city of Dnipropetrovsk. Ironically, our acquaintances who left Kramatorsk fell victim to hearing these shellings.
But despite the ongoing war, there are good events. For example, Oksana’s husband Leonid, who had been missing, has been found; well, let’s just say he got in touch after a four-day absence of phone contact. Leonid, who left two months ago, serves in the Ukrainian army. Earlier, Oksana bought him a new body armor and some other things, but the parcel in which she shipped these goods came back undeliverable. Volunteers said that they did not find the military unit in which Leonid serves. The return of the parcel and the lack of telephone calls were very disturbing to Oksana. We decided to help her find him, and today we started searching on private Internet networks, but this is tricky business as the Russians set up fake accounts about Ukrainian military units. Thankfully, the work was short. Oksana just called and said that her husband got in touch. This is very good news.
Another positive update is that I have completely ceased to be interested in the war. I don’t read war news anymore. This has greatly improved my mood. I am working to be just like my former self: to have a strong desire to live and to be successful. This choice of how to think is very cool! I simply have a desire to achieve more. I started looking for new business opportunities, and now I’m learning Tik Tok (a short-form video-sharing app). I’m also interested in other social networks that are not yet very popular. Ebay auction tools are, unfortunately, not working for us. But other electronic platforms are available. I will try to monetize my new skills on the social networks.
We really need peace. War, like any toxin, poisons my life, your life, all lives.
With hope that you never have to ingest the poison of war,
Read all of Pavel Kuljuk’s reports from Eastern Ukraine.
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Kuljuk, I find your articles very interesting. You and your wife are very brave. I think of you and keep you and your wife in my prayers. Please stay safe.
Claire Horst, thank you very much. We are very pleased with your attention.