Ukraine war: The town staring down the barrel of Putin’s war machine as the fight for Donbas intensifies | World News

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Editor April 29, 2022
Updated 2022/04/29 at 9:23 PM

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With a military guide we enter the small Ukrainian town of Barvinkove.

Heavily fortified, this once bucolic community is the next target of Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

Thousands of Russian soldiers are bearing down on this place – a manoeuvre the Kremlin hopes will cut off the Donbas region of Ukraine.

As we drive we pass smashed up houses, only a few people remain. It is eerily quiet.

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In the central square we meet the head of the local museum, Mykola Zelenyi, who tells us he’s not scared.

He takes us to where the last bombs landed.

Some of them hit the library, which is still burning when we arrive.

The books smoulder on the shelves, piles of cinder and ash.

Head of Museum Mykola Zelenyi, in Barvinkove, Ukraine
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Mykola Zelenyi tells us he’s not scared

“They said we are not shelling civilians but are making precision missile strikes. Where is this accuracy? At the library? At the monument? Where is the precision?” said Mykola.

We carry on up the road, and reach a freshly dug defensive position.

Soldiers are repairing tanks they’ll need in the coming fight.

Barvinkove, Ukraine
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So many of these towns and villages have been devastated by the fighting

The front here looks and feels like a war from another century.

A conflict the world thought it would never have to see again on European soil.

Tank mechanic Artem says where we are standing will soon be the scene of a ferocious battle.

“Tanks are a very important military weapon in the Ukrainian army. Artillery is good but for attacking from the distance. But tanks are important for close combat as they protect soldiers.”

Artem, tank mechanic in the Ukrainian military
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Tank mechanic Artem

Across these positions there are now hundreds of metres of trenches – a labyrinth of protection where the Ukrainians have laid down nests of weapons.

As we film, Grad rockets streak overhead.

It is a deadly fight where long-range artillery will be decisive.

Barvinkove, Ukraine
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Hundreds of metres of trenches have been dug

In this maze, there are many deep bunkers, sanctuaries from the incoming fire.

Many of the men have been living here for months.

Evgen shows us the German-made anti-tank weapons he will be firing.

“Charge, aim and fire, that’s all. If it’s 200 metres away the tanks will be destroyed and if it’s at 800 metres you can make a noise. But it’s good to destroy tanks,” he says.

Evgen shows us the German made anti-tank weapons he will be firing.
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Evgen shows us the German-made anti-tank weapons he will be firing

Western arms are now flooding into this war.

It’s why the Kremlin claims it’s now in a proxy fight with NATO and the West.

So many of these towns and villages have been devastated by the fighting.

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We visit what was once a school.

But in this Russia invasion, a slow slugging match of attrition and firepower, nothing is sacred.

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