Unconquered Slavyansk and the liberated Izium and Liman: a report from the East of Ukraine


Unconquered Slavyansk and the liberated Izium and Liman: a report from the East of Ukraine

The cruel war unleashed by Russia has passed through the territory of the East of our country. In the areas bordering with the aggressor, it is now difficult to find a settlement, which the hand of Moscow has not reached.

For those who are far from the front line, it is difficult to imagine that such a thing is even possible and that people are capable of such a thing. Channel 24 brings to your attention a report from the indestructible East of Ukraine.

Our trip began in Lvov, so the first echoes of the war appeared already on the Zhytomyr highway near Kiev. Russian troops entered here back in March 2022, trying to surround the Ukrainian capital.

Destroyed buildings still remind of the heavy fighting that unfolded on a section of the route of about 36 kilometers between Zavalovka and Stoyanka. But, fortunately, the Ukrainian troops managed to push the enemy back from the capital – Kyiv escaped encirclement and, moreover, occupation.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the Kharkiv region. A significant part of the region in the spring of 2022 found itself under Russian occupation. On our way, this is a segment of the route from Kharkov to Slavyansk – from Rogan to the north of the Donetsk region.

Russia left the worst imprint here on Izyum. The city, whose population in the pre-war period was almost 50 thousand people, is now practically wiped off the face of the earth.

Trying to “liberate” the city, the Russian army constantly bombed Izyum with the help of aircraft. According to local authorities, as a result of enemy actions after a 6-month occupation, only about 10,000 residents remained in the city.

Raisins destroyed by invaders / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

After the occupation and fierce battles for Izyum, both bridges connecting its two parts across the Seversky Donets River have now been destroyed in the city.

Destroyed bridge in Izyum / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

With the naked eye in Izyum, one can also see “gifts from the fraternal people” in the form of ruins in places where high-rise buildings once stood. And in the city there are houses completely destroyed along with the basement!

A house in Izyum, destroyed down to the basement / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

Already in the Kharkiv region, we saw horrific things done by the Russians. It is hard to imagine what lies ahead for us.

However, we have a clear goal of the trip – to transfer the Matrice 300 RTK drone to the military of the 66th separate mechanized brigade. We collected more than 580 thousand for it with the support of readers and viewers of Channel 24 , subscribers of the “First Private Memories” and just friends in social networks. Thank you for supporting our fundraisers.

Slavyansk may become a real discovery for those who have come to the Donetsk region for the first time since the full-scale invasion. Together with the Kramatorsk regional center, both cities have become an outpost of life in the Ukrainian Donbas.

It was here that the war in Donbass began in 2014, which Russia unleashed with the hands of pro-Russian elements of the local population. The enemy was driven away, and Slavyansk still stands indestructibly today.

I confess honestly: I expected to see almost a ghost town with continuous roadblocks, where, perhaps, we will be the only ones in the city dressed not in a pixel. At the same time, Slavyansk was a very pleasant surprise.

It started back in Lviv, when we started looking for accommodation for the night. At first it seemed that finding at least some surviving roof over your head in the city was a task, if not impossible, then at least extremely difficult.

But it turned out that everything is quite the opposite. The city has a huge selection of accommodation that can be rented for the night, day or longer. True, prices are about the same as in Lviv. This fact again caused surprise, and then everything fell into place.

As it turned out, finding free housing in Slavyansk is another test. Where does this demand come from? The military often come here to relax, who have a few free days. Also, Slavyansk has long been chosen by relatives and friends of the military, who come here for meetings.

Indestructible Slavyansk / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

Now Slavyansk is an absolutely lively city. Civilians and military men here walk along the streets of the city, walk in parks, relax in cafes, or simply stop by for groceries from neighboring settlements.

It is difficult to say right away that just a few months ago, Russian positions were just over 11 kilometers from the city. Now the enemy has been thrown back at least 30 kilometers from Slavyansk.

Slavyansk surrounded by occupied and liberated territories / Screenshot from DeepStateMAP

To my sincere surprise, the military only smile and say: “This is Slavyansk. There is no war here.” For many of them, this city has become the only consolation in the brutal military everyday life. And this is without irony, this is how all the dialogues look like:

– I am amazed that there is such a large selection of housing for rent and such a great demand for it.

– So this is Slavyansk. There is no war here.

* * *

– That is? Is it really possible to order food delivery in Slovyansk?

Of course, there is no war here.

* * *

– How often do you come here?

– No, we are more often there – in the war.

* * *

“I thought I would spend the whole night under the cannonade of explosions. But it turns out that Slavyansk is surprisingly calm.

– So it's all there, in the war. There is no such thing here.

* * *

To be honest, before the trip, I even asked the military if it was possible to find somewhere a free place in the basement for the night. There are taxis in Slavyansk, a post office, cafes, sushi and pizza delivery. And in fact, as if there is no war.

By the way, we found a place to sleep. It is very interesting how the settlement takes place in Slavyansk. The agent simply resets the address of the apartment and a hint where the keys to it are hidden, as well as the card number where to send money for accommodation.

This is how we remember Slavyansk – a city where everything is built solely on trust.

In September 2022, while the lightning-fast operation to de-occupy the Kharkiv region continued, Ukrainian troops “under the guise” threw the enemy away from Slavyansk. Then the Russians fled from Liman to Kremennaya and even beyond Makiivka, Luhansk region.

At present, our military is invincibly holding this sector of the front, despite the enemy's dreams of regaining control of Liman in order to once again create a threat to Slavyansk.

Unfortunately, now Liman really resembles a ghost town. If in pre-war times more than 20 thousand people lived here, now there are only a few hundred of them left. The fact that in the city you will see the horrific atrocities of the Russian horde becomes clear even at the entrance to it.

Here, right on the road connecting Liman with Raygorodok and Slavyansk, the Russians shot down a whole column of civilian vehicles. The military say they shot, probably from the armament of the armored personnel carrier.

On all the burned cars, there are characteristic traces indicating that it flew right into the back of the car. Thus, the invaders cynically killed dozens of civilians who tried to escape from the occupation.

Destroyed car column near Liman / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

The Russians decided not to spare civilians when they fled from the city. Almost all the fields around Liman and places next to the road in the city itself are mined. On such surprises of the enemy, dozens of civilians and military have already been blown up here.

So the military clearly forbade going off the main roads even for a meter. “If you want some trophies, everything you find is yours. Just warn us before that so that we can run away,” they told us.

Mined fields are not the only thing that can be found in the vicinity of Liman and neighboring villages. After the occupation of these territories, many positions were left as a legacy, from where our military drove the Russians.

Here they left their garbage, trenches and dugouts. And as a nice bonus – a lot of destroyed enemy equipment.

Abandoned positions and equipment of the Russians near Liman / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

The military, to whom we came, said that they were more sorry for the work of local people. They spent a significant part of their lives building their lives here, and then the bloody Russians came to “save” them.

A lot of wasted labor can be seen outside the city. There are wide steppes planted with wheat, sunflower or other crops. Sown even before the “brotherly people” came here.

The harvest has already risen a long time ago, but there is no one else to collect it. Yes, and it is dangerous now to walk or drive through the fields of the liberated parts of Donbass – perhaps the most mine-contaminated territory in the world.

Withered sunflowers in the steppes of Donbass / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

The Russians also left behind ruins both in Liman itself and in nearby villages. It is almost impossible to find surviving houses here.

Relatively surviving buildings are considered to be those in which the windows are “only” broken and the roofs are not badly damaged. True, there are not too many of them. Much more often, houses were left completely without a roof and with destroyed walls.

The ruined village of Shandrigolovo near Liman / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

Coincidence or not, but perhaps the only thing that survived here are the monuments of the Soviet era. “Will you take pictures of them? Then you will write that it was with these symbols that the Russians came here to 'liberate' people,” the military forced me to promise.

Soviet symbols in Shandrigol / Photo by Vasily Denisyuk, Channel 24

With the further de-occupation of our cities, we will see more and more horrific crimes committed by the Russians. And we have no other choice – only victory and the complete liberation of our lands.

Otherwise, our entire country will become a solid raisin or Liman – destroyed, mined, devastated and shot. We want to remain Slavic – such a friendly and calm, quiet corner of peace in a troubled world.

Let's support our Armed Forces of Ukraine until the very victory, while the foot of the last Russian soldier remains on the territory of our state. Unless it's only one leg.

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