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‘Constantly depressing’: Ukrainian town watches war closely
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TORETSK, Ukraine — War has once again moved closer to Toretsk in eastern Ukraine. Even the sudden crackle of a plastic water bottle makes locals nervous.

“Everything that happens, the slightest noise, if our neighbors bang on the door, a metal door, you are shocked,” said Andriy Cheromushkin, a resident. “You feel so helpless.”

Half of the more than 32,000 inhabitants fled. Many of those who remain lack money and basic resources. The depression grows, as well as the anger.

“I collect rainwater. Yes, and I do the dishes with this rainwater. I cook my dog’s food with this water. I clean the floors with this water. I do laundry with this water. Clean the house with. Is this normal? It’s the 21st century. The nuclear century! said resident Irina Anatolievna.

She lined up with other exhausted residents on Monday for a water distribution now that running water is gone. As people left with bottles, they passed World War I and World War II monuments.

Prior to Russia’s invasion, conflict last gripped Toretsk in 2014, when it was captured by pro-Russian separatists. Ukrainian forces recaptured it later that year.

Today, the mining town is only a few kilometers from the separatist-controlled Donetsk region. Not so far, the Ukrainian forces try to stop the advance of the Russian forces.

Explosions and artillery sounds are loud, residents said.

But it’s not so easy to leave. Some are old. Some have young children. Some, like Cheromushkin, have no work.

“You don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let alone the next minute,” Cheromushkin said. His wife, Tatiana, described the situation as “persistently depressing”.

It is also a constant source of concern for Vasyl Chynchyk, the head of the civil and military administration of Toretsk.

“The enemy is cunning. The enemy doesn’t care about infrastructure, doesn’t care about civilians,” he said. “The enemy is acting deliberately, using intimidation, carrying out massive bombardments.”

The most important task now is to evacuate residents while the city is more or less quiet, he said.

But evacuation takes energy, and Tatiana says she’s run out.

“I want to believe this is going to end soon,” she said. “They will come to some kind of agreement.”

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