By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Nov 25 (EFE).- Kherson is coming under increased shelling by Russian forces with multiple reports of civilian casualties in a city struggling with a complicated humanitarian situation.
Ukrainian authorities have warned that Russia still has stores of S-300 missiles to pound cities close to the front line in southeastern Ukraine.
“I thought that the damaged infrastructure would be our biggest problem but I was wrong,” writes Evgenia, who has been documenting the situation in Kherson on her Facebook page.
Like other residents of the city, she has experienced the rising levels of Russian shelling, which so far culminated in the death of seven people on Thursday and has continued through the night into Friday.
She says that her neighborhood was bombed at least nine or 10 times during the night.
Each time, the shelling lasted for about 10 minutes with the next round starting after a 15-minute break. Evgenia was only able to fall asleep for several hours at night when the shelling moved to a further district.
The locals believe that Russia uses cluster munitions to shell the city with all the districts reportedly affected.
Olena Afanasieva, who fled from the city during the occupation, shares a picture that she received from her friend in Kherson. It shows him holding dart-like fragments that he collected after the shelling near his home. “Some of them get stuck in the asphalt so that you cannot pull them away.”
Afanasieva tells Efe that her friend lives in “an ordinary residential area of Kherson with no military facilities or large buildings.”
According to him, a 13-year-old boy was killed by such fragments, and two others were killed in his neighborhood on Thursday.
The messages that her friends manage to send to her amid the lack of reliable internet and mobile phone connection indicate that the whole streets may have been destroyed by the shelling last night with some residents reportedly hurrying to leave for Mykolaiv.
“The shelling is going non-stop,” says Oksana Pogomij, a member of the local council speaking to Efe on the phone from the city.
She says that some people were killed and injured Thursday by a fire that started after the Russian shelling.
Official sources say seven people were killed and 21 injured on Thursday.
Pogomij and her team are busy distributing the humanitarian aid brought by the charity foundation of former president Petro Poroshenko. The city has been left with no water, electricity or heating for more than three weeks.
“We focus on ‘burzhuikas’ (portable firewood ovens) and fast food meals. Hygiene products such as diapers for children and the disabled are extremely needed right now, too.”
Evgenia says that locals leave their apartment to warm themselves outside.
“It was warmer outside than in the apartments yesterday.”
Locals either stand in line for water or lie in bed under two or three blankets.
“We hope repair specialists manage to restore at least one out of three high-voltage lines to the city so that we have light, water supply and heating, at least for a little,” she writes.
Rushing to meet another load of aid, Pogomij tells Efe that, having remained in Kherson during Russia’s occupation, she is not planning to leave despite the risks.
“If everyone leaves, there will be no city left, right?”.
She says she will stay until Ukraine wins and hopes that the army will soon make sure there is no shelling from the eastern bank of the Dnipro river.
Several Ukrainian officials have warned recently that Russia may be gradually running out of long-range missiles but still has large reserves of shorter-range S-300 missiles.
Normally used for air defense, they have been repurposed by Russia to shell such cities as Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv. It is now Kherson that is expected to suffer the most from Russian shelling along with those cities, warned Andriy Yusov, from Ukraine’s military intelligence, on Thursday.EFE