Fighting in Eastern Ukraine devastates front-line town of Pisky

World Today

There are recent reports of shelling in Eastern Ukraine, despite a new ceasefire agreement. Both sides had agreed to pull back heavy weapons from the frontlines, but artillery can still be heard in the area. Nearly three years of conflict in the region has left over 9,700 people dead and entire communities destroyed.

CGTN’S Natalie Carney filed this report.

Fighting in Eastern Ukraine devastates front-line town of Pisky

There are recent reports of shelling in Eastern Ukraine, despite a new ceasefire agreement. Both sides had agreed to pull back heavy weapons from the frontlines, but artillery can still be heard in the area. Nearly three years of conflict in the region has left over 9,700 people dead and entire communities destroyed. CGTN’S Natalie Carney filed this report.

Pisky was once known as the playground for Donetsk’s rich with its million dollars mansions. But today, the city, steps away from rebel-controlled Donetsk, is left in ruin.

In 2014, Pisky was the epicenter of fighting, especially during the battles for Donetsk airport. Ukrainian troops maintained a frontline base in the city–as a result, much of it has been destroyed.

Today the fighting for control continues.

Electricity and water have long been shut off, homes have been reduced to rubble, the laughter of children has gone quiet. The local school and town’s cultural center are all gone.

The majority of residents in Pisky evacuated back in 2014 when fighting erupted for the Donetsk airport.

Today Pisky resembles an apocalyptic ghost town with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Prior to the conflict more than 2,000 people resided here, a thousand more would visit regularly.

Today, twelve remain.

Yellow spray paint on a fence reads “people live here.”

Anatoliy and Svetlana live in Pisky. “See! This landed just over here. It dug in a bit but I dug it out. You see this is the nozzle and the combustion chamber, it looks like an engine,” said Anatoliy, showing where a grad missile had landed in his yard.

The couple relies on electricity from the soldiers’ generators and NGOs help them with food.

Despite the risks and the loneliness, Anatoliy and Svetlana decided to stay, in the house they had just renovated, but they keep their bags packed.

“We already have our schedule. We know that between 9 and 11 there will be no incoming shelling. And outgoing shelling is almost the same schedule. The others who are still living here, they are living on the other side – at the other end of the lake. They are near the church. That end of Pisky is the frontline,” said Anatoliy.

A ceasefire began Monday at midnight yet sounds of shelling could still be heard throughout the day.

As the battle between the Ukrainian army and rebel separatists continues, Pisky remains a disputed territory. But for the very few who remain here, all they want is a return to the vibrant community it used to be – regardless of who is in control.