The weather in Bakhmut deceives the senses, sunny and warm – almost peaceful.
But a deafening boom of outgoing artillery from the critical eastern Ukrainian town shook that notion out of the system, as Ukrainian soldiers on Wednesday launched offensives to try to reclaim positions from Russian forces.
Three men could be seen making a run for it out of town, one with a microwave strapped to his back.
The attacks are normal, says Katrusya, as she leans on a wall – a picture of composure – as we take shelter from the incoming shells.
“The artillery attacks fly every day so it’s never quiet here. Other parts of the city take hits many times a day,” she says.
A handful of residents are still on the streets of Bakhmut. Buildings have no windows; the streets are pockmarked with craters and industrial garbage bins have merged into small pools of trash.
Those who remain seem to live in a parallel universe. They’re out on their bikes, running errands, and elderly women drag their shopping trolleys behind them, though which shops are open seems a mystery.
Sergey is one of those Bakhmut inhabitants still walking the streets. Asked if he is worried about the shelling he replies, “Afraid of what, mate? Everything is going to be okay.”
He then stares out into the distance, almost as if he doesn’t really believe his own words.
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