ROHAN, Eastern Ukraine — The sound of thunder reverberated through the sky as dozens of rockets flew overhead. “Here!” Leila, a young Ukrainian officer, told us while she pointed out a nearby farm to use as a hideout should the Russians return fire. In front of the farm is a wrecked tank with the infamous “Z” symbol painted white on its turret and hull. In the back field is the wreckage of a Russian helicopter.
Mykola Devyakato, 85, was a small child when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union fought brutal battles at Kharkiv. “I think this is worse than World War Two,” he told The Daily Beast on Thursday as he sat on a wooden bench looking at the devastation his nearby town, Rohan, had suffered. under Russian occupation.
The Ukrainians liberated the town on March 26, but the area quickly became the site of a major gun battle. Ukrainians now consider the village safe enough for residents to return, but things are not like that with constant explosions in the background.
Lyubov Zlubina is a local council member who owns a cattle ranch on the outskirts of town. She recalls when the Russians rolled into town and came to her ranch, demanding their tanks into her barn. “Through my body!” she said she told them. “That can be arranged easily,” one Russian is said to have replied as he pointed a gun at her. In the end, they decided to leave her alive, but not before using her car, home and various household items to accomplish the goal, Zlubina said. According to her, they burned down half of her farm on the day they withdrew from town and killed 140 of her cows in the process.
There seems to be no evidence yet of organized massacres as gruesome in Rohan as those seen in Bucha. But an army official said that two locals were shot during the occupation and one girl was raped. The girl is said to have been evacuated and moved out of the country where she is receiving psychological counseling.
Unbeknownst to us, a Ukrainian GRAD rocket launcher was stationed in the trees behind us during our visit to the front lines on Thursday. Minutes after the first rocket explosion, another volley of rockets fell from a position on the roadside. We heard Russian fire coming back, but they landed not near us. Western drones and counter-reaction radars have suddenly given Ukraine an advantage in the gun battles that are dominating the battlefields of eastern Ukraine.
A masked Ukrainian soldier stationed on the front lines said that while the Russians had prepared a large amount of artillery for the assault on villages like Rohan in Kharkiv Oblast, most of their equipment was completely complete. inactive. He predicted a quick Ukrainian victory would push the invaders out of the rest of the occupied territories in the region within the coming weeks.
The line was only a few minutes’ drive from the village of Rohan, one of the first settlements captured by the Russians in the first blitzkrieg of Kharkiv. They were close to the city center before being fiercely resisted by Ukrainian troops on the outskirts of the city. Depressed, they never tried to take the city again. Instead, they planted firecrackers in the surrounding villages and attacked the city mercilessly, driving hundreds of thousands of civilians out of their homes and making the city almost uninhabitable.
But now it looks like two miserable months are finally over for Ukraine’s second-largest city. A new counterattack by the Ukrainian army drove Russian forces out of most of the surrounding towns, culminating in the liberation of Tsurkuny just a few kilometers north of the city.
“The Russians shot at me and anyone who tried to film them.”
Ironically, Putin’s plan has come to fruition this week – and Victory Day on Monday – culminating in a major victory for Russian forces trying to “liberate” the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Instead, it is the Ukrainians who have been crushing the Russian forces. The Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank that tracks military gains and losses in Ukraine, says that local forces are “recapturing territory along a broad arc around Kharkiv.” … and potentially threatens further advance to the Russian border.”
There seem to be similar stories of Ukrainian success in all directions from Kharkiv. To the northwest is the town of Slatyne, located about 15 kilometers from the Russian border. Along the way, there are many Ukrainian checkpoints guarded by sly soldiers armed with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns.
As we neared the center of town, two camouflaged Ukrainian soldiers jumped up to us and told us the town was out of bounds. One of them is wearing a patch with a Ghostbusters logo that reads “SEPARbusters,” a reference to Russian proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk that have been fighting the Ukrainian government for eight years. He reluctantly said that they would look the other way if we hung out on the outskirts of town.
Andriy, from Slatyne, 22, woke up the first morning of February 24 to hearing gunshots and explosions. He showed me a video on his phone of Russian tanks plunging down the neighboring streets. “Of course, the Russians shot at me and anyone who tried to film them,” he grins.
He spent eight days in Slatyne while Ukrainian and Russian forces scrambled for the city when it was on the front lines before attempting to flee with a few friends. He currently lives in Lviv and works as a barber, but plans to return to Slatyne next week to pick up his car because it’s safe.
Although the Russian offensive has faced humiliation after blow in recent weeks, the relentless shelling has greatly affected the town and its inhabitants. Slatyne originally had 7,000 inhabitants, and perhaps two or three hundred remained after the invasion. “They shed their shells every hour. I was growing potatoes in my vegetable garden when it fell on the neighbor’s house. Now if I hear a rumble, I run immediately,” Anya Donchenko, a 62-year-old cleaner and one of the few remaining residents of the town, told The Daily Beast. She took us into her backyard and proudly showed us how she had replanted the potatoes that the blast had dug up.
Donchenko said: “I have a sister who is disabled and she wants to live close to the earth, because in Kharkiv she will be in the apartment all the time. “We wanted her to spend time outside, in the garden. But now she is completely bedridden. She has coxarthrosis. I don’t know, we don’t expect anything. The main thing is to have peace. We want things to be better. We want peace.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukrainian-town-of-rohan-makes-mockery-of-russian-troops-and-vladimir-putins-pathetic-arsenal?source=articles&via=rss The Ukrainian town of Rohan makes a mockery of Russia’s military and Vladimir Putin’s pathetic arsenal