People living near demarcation line extremely worried about withdrawal of Ukrainian troops

Checkpoint in Luhansk Oblast  

War in the Donbas

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

Speaking during the TV broadcast “Svoboda Slova” (The Free Word) via a video link with Severodonetsk, Luhansk Oblast, Serhiy Shakshun, former head of the Popasniansky Raion Administration, declared that people living all along the demarcation line were extremely worried about the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces and being left without protection in face of the enemy.

Serhiy Shakshun, former head of the Popasniansky Raion Administratio

“Ukraine has withdrawn its troops in Stanytsia Luhanska. Russia has not, and their military forces are still here. Russians are now walking around freely in the gray zone. Moreover, the war is escalating along the entire front line. If this is not being reported, then it’s very bad. Military operations are happening all across Popasniansky Raion (district) – Novotoshkivsky, Zolote, Katerynivka, Popasne, Troyitske are under fire.”

He added that the government was talking about moving Ukrainian troops back, but where to? The steppes and the wide open fields? Heavy rains are starting; winter is just round the corner. There are no fortifications… “Why are we maltreating our defenders in such a way?” he says.

Shakshun said that since the war started more and more people have left the occupied territories and come to live in Popasniansky Raion.

“There are 180 more children in Popasniansky district schools this year alone. This is not counting the first classes. 180 children! These are families that left their homes and moved here from occupied Pervomaisk, from Stakhanov, from Brianka, from Kirovsk. They’ve settled here and want to live in normal conditions.” he explained.

Shaksun emphasizes that these people are in a panic.

“People call the administration every day, crying: “How can they take our troops away?” Our men, they say! They don’t refer to them, like before, as the “Ukrainian army”. They are now “our men”! And what will happen to us after that? People are really worried. The war began five years ago and is still ongoing. Before, locals used to call Ukrainian soldiers “banderivtsi” or “those fighters”, but now they’re “ours”… and people beg them to stay and not leave them all alone and defenseles

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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