In line with a foreseeable escalation of the war in Ukraine after the announcement of partial mobilization by Vladimir Putin, Russian missiles fell on residential buildings on Wednesday in Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.
“Our neighborhood was relatively quiet, and now look what happened,” Liubov, 65, tells AFP in front of one of the badly damaged buildings.
Located just 40 kilometers from the Russian border, Kharkiv was attacked on the first day of the invasion launched on February 24.
Although it resisted capture, it has since been regularly bombed by Russian forces.
In the last weeksKharkov had not suffered much of the lightning Ukrainian counter-offensive that drove Moscow’s troops out of the region.
But Russia can still launch missiles from its own territory.
On Wednesday, shortly before two in the morning, four missiles fell in the Kholodnogorsky neighborhood, hitting, according to the city council, two residential buildings, a construction site and civil infrastructure.
Fortunately, the attack only left one civilian injured.
Liubov, with his 45 years of experience in municipal services, leads cleanup teams moving through the rubble.
“War is a disaster. It’s scary, painful and miserable. How can you put up with something like that?” he laments, as anti-aircraft sirens continue to wail, mingling with the sound of bells from the golden domes of the Hagia Sophia, where Orthodox worshipers gathered to commemorate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. .
“Many people lost their houses and winter is coming. Every night we go to bed in fear. But we keep working. They shoot and we work,” adds Liubov.
The resumption of the bombing preceded by a few hours the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin of a partial mobilization that would affect around 300,000 reservists.
Viktoria Ovtchinnikova, a mother of two, feels “crushing fear”.
“I fear for the children”, confesses the 43-year-old woman. “It’s a miracle we survived” the night attack, she adds.
“They are killing civilians. There is nothing here but gardens and civilian houses,” Svitlana, another Kharkiv resident, is outraged.
“I ask all Russians that God gives them the wisdom to flee and to ignore the mobilization. I hope that they become aware and that they do not come to fight against us,” he implores.
Galyna, 50, claims not to understand the Russians. “We protect our homeland. It is our territory. It is Ukraine and they are waging a war. So that? Against whom?” he wonders.
In kyiv, the capital – today far from the front lines and untouched by bombing since late June – the mood seems more combative.
“I think that we should not pay attention to the statements of the Russian dictator,” judges Oleg Slabospytsky, a 33-year-old civil society activist.
“The fact that he announces a mobilization or a new decree in Russia will not change anything for us in Ukraine,” he says.
“We will defeat Russia or the enemy will occupy all of our territories,” he stresses.