The blasts in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar echo between buildings every minute or two, a CNN team reports.
Artillery, grad rockets and mortar fire were all audible in the town at different points Saturday — most of it believed to be outgoing from Ukrainian positions, but also some incoming from Russian forces.
The CNN team, which last visited Chasiv Yar eight days ago, said the amount of indirect fire appeared to have increased from the previous visit. It seems to indicate Ukrainian forces are working hard to keep open their key supply route into nearby Bakhmut, despite mounting Russian pressure.
Russian forces continue “to conduct offensive actions (in their attempt) to take full control of the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its latest situation update Saturday.
Unofficial reports suggest Russia’s troops have maintained their slow advance through the center of the long-embattled city, located just east of Chasiv Yar. The long fight for Bakhmut has seen Moscow’s fighters begin to enter western parts of the city, according to the reports, with the railway station as a possible next key target.
Life under constant fire: Back in Chasiv Yar, Ivan, a university student majoring in psychology, appeared unfazed by the constant sound of fire.
The incoming?” he shrugged. “So what. I’m alive. I have food. Sometimes we have running water.”
Ivan and his mother Ira are among the few civilians left in the town.
“As long as I can, I will stay here,” he said, before going back to sawing the trunk of a small tree. The logs will make a fire where his mother can cook.
Ira, a woman in her fifties with short hair and a gold pendant of the Virgin Mary around her neck, focused on the day’s chores — not the danger.
“We wake up every morning, light a fire and start preparing food,” she told CNN. “Every day Ivan fetches water and collects firewood.”
She’s already planning ahead for Orthodox Easter, next weekend. No church services have been conducted in a while, but she and Ivan will observe Easter with the few people left in their aging apartment complex.
Despite everything, we will bake some pies, we will color eggs. We will have a holiday,” Ira said. “We are optimists.”
While most residents have left, the town is far from empty, teeming with soldiers, tanks, armored personnel carriers and army trucks, which have left a thick layer of drying mud on the town’s streets.