The Ukrainian city that’s been attacked since day one where defiant residents hide underground


There’s absolutely nowhere here that’s been spared.

Street after street it’s the same – shattered buildings and bomb craters.

The frontline Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk is a key target for Russian forces.

And it’s been under attack since day one of this invasion.

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The people here survive on handouts. There’s no power or running water.

Most have left and those staying only come up from their basements when the shelling stops. They are terrified and desperate.

Valentina, 82, leads me back down into the darkness. This damp and cold place has been home for more than two months.

There’s no light except for a torch to guide her path. How she finds her feet day after day without tripping on the uneven ground I do not know.

As she lifts the curtain she becomes embarrassed, later telling me she doesn’t want to show me where she sleeps because she’s not had a chance to tidy up.

There’s a makeshift bed in the corner and a few possessions scattered around.

More than 20 people are living in this cramped space but even here there’s hope.

Lyubana, another of the subterranean residents, says that she believes Ukraine’s forces will win what she sees as a fight of good against evil.

“No, I believe we are not forgotten and I think we have to do our best to survive. I don’t feel that we’ve been abandoned – I believe that everything will be ok,” she said.

What they have to eat is carefully stored in a shopping trolley.

And you might think a city would give up in the face of all this but the resilience here is staggering.

At the main police station the Ukrainian flag still flies proudly.

This building has been targeted again and again but the resistance remains strong.

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On the frontline of Donbas fighting

The Chief of Police for the Luhansk region, Oleh Hryhorov, takes me up to the second floor to see the damage.

He wants the world to understand what Russia is doing to his country.

Despite being devastated by an air strike they are still operational and carrying out what is now mostly a humanitarian mission.

“Our job in this region is for the people. We get food, help with medicine and evacuation, this is now the task of the police, helping the people – it’s also dangerous work”, he said.

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Everyone in this city is struggling in the face of unrelenting savagery.

As we visit the only working hospital the sound of fighting gets closer.

Inside the medics do what they can. They’re treating the war wounded and routine emergencies.

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People don’t stop getting sick because there’s shooting outside.

All of the patients are treated in the corridors, away from the windows which have been blown out by shells. This hospital’s been attacked more than 20 times.

Lyubov Pavlivna is recovering from shrapnel wounds but she’s defiant and has this message for Vladimir Putin.

“I want them to die. I want those bastards to not even be nearby. They’re destroying not only our young guys but they are also sending their own to die – I wish death to him (Putin) and all of those around him”, she said.

But after we’d left, we received terrible news from medics.

The hospital had been shelled again.

It is another reminder of the brutal nature of Russia’s war where the innocent are all too often the victims.

And people here fear this indiscriminate violence will only get worse.

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