By Luis Lidón
Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jun 24 (EFE).- Valentina and Lyudmila are handing out strawberries as plumes of smoke float into the sky from a nearby house that was flattened moments before in a Russian bombardment.
Chuhuiv, a city southeast of Kharkiv, has been under incessant attack as Russia’s forces attempt to destroy a bridge over the Donets River.
“This morning there were five explosions nearby, they fire every day,” Valentina, a petite 67-year-old woman, tells Efe.
Six people were killed in Chuhuiv on Wednesday, according to regional authorities.
Lyudmila, 58, says they died in an attack on the bus station.
This week alone in the Kharkiv region, around 40 civilians have been killed.
“Please, Europe must protect us,” Valentina pleads teary-eyed. “Why are they doing this to us?”
The sisters’ efforts to protect their home by covering windows with tarpaulins and bricks have been in vain. All the glass has shattered.
“But why don’t they leave? It’s our parents’ house, we have five cats and a dog,” Valentina, says.
The sisters will be spending the night in an apartment they have in the center of Chuhuiv.
“Many neighbors have left but they have left the animals and we are among the last here, so we feed them,” she adds.
Before, they say, they had a high opinion of Russia, but now they hate Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Putin has sucked their brains out,” Valentina continues.
“The worst thing is that I don’t know how or when this is going to end,” Lyudmila despairs. “I am 58 years old, it is difficult for me to start from scratch, go to another country, learn languages. My family has lived here for a long time. What harm have we done to them?”
After sharing strawberries, a Ukrainian token of hospitality, the sisters tell Efe: “Thank you for coming so far to see what they are doing to us.”
The story of these two sisters who don’t want to leave a family home bursting with memories is mirrored by many across the country.
In recent days, Russian attacks have increased in intensity and frequency in eastern Ukraine.
After a few weeks of relative calm, the Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv, located just 40 kilometers from the border, has come under fire again.
SCORCHED EARTH TACTIC