Sivers'k is Dying: A Love Letter to a Ukrainian City Under Assault
A beautiful photo essay from Ukraine, by the journalist Paul Conroy
They check our papers at the Ukrainian army checkpoint outside of Sloviansk, Donbas. “Sivers’k?” the soldier asks again, the doubt clear in his eye. We nod, and with a half sigh, he waves us through and wishes us “shchaslyvyy”, literally, “happiness”, or “good luck”.
Sivers’k, like its unlucky cousin, Bakhmut, thirty miles south and now under its seventh month of assault, sits in a salient position on the Russian-Ukrainian frontline. Pounded by Russian artillery from the North, East and South, its population has shrunk from over ten thousand to around a thousand who now refuse to flee.
A few miles off the main road, our guide, Ben Duncan, a volunteer from the UK who runs Aquaducks with his American partner, Gregory Holt, spots their converted ambulance carrying 500 litres of drinking water waiting ahead.
We team up and proceed in convoy but with a strict 50m gap between vehicles in case of attack. We are then stopped by the Ukrainian army, who inform us that a Shahed 136 loitering drone has been spotted overhead. They urge us to proceed with caution.
The snow has now thawed, and soon we are driving through thick muddy gullies, remnants of tank movements in the area, and given the likelihood of drone attack, progress is painfully slow. In all directions, the rumble of heavy artillery grows more intense.
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