SIEVIERODONETSK, Ukraine — The city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine was flanked on three sides by Russian troops and panic was in the air.
“Please, God, let him live,” wailed a woman as she climbed out of an ambulance with her husband, her hands covered in blood. “You can’t imagine what kind of person he is. He’s a golden person.”
Police doctors pulled the woman, who gave her name as Olha, to their first aid station as she asked for help for her husband who was in the ambulance.
But the stretcher bearers had already left. Her husband, Serhii, had died, the latest victim of the relentless barrage of artillery and gunfire that Russian forces knocked down on the city, one of the last major Ukrainian strongholds in the region.
Russia is trying to surround and besiege the city, a mining and industrial city critical to controlling the Donbas region – a key objective.
When a DailyExpertNews reporting team visited Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, we drove through small villages and fields to avoid Russian shelling and rushed across the single-lane bridge that is the only remaining route.
Debris from the bombing could be seen in almost every street. The fins of missiles protruded from craters in the asphalt. A broken utility pole and cables were draped over the streets, and burnt-out cars, torn by shrapnel, lay abandoned where they had been thrown by an explosion—some onto sidewalks or overturned. A truck hung precariously on the side of the bridge.
Advancing Russian forces have destroyed the main bridge into the city and repeatedly targeted a second one. They’ve also nearly cut off the main road into town from the south and have shot at vehicles using the road, making travel perilous. Several mortar shells hit near the main bridge on Tuesday.