THERE are just 800 people left in the Ukrainian town of Stepnohirsk, a frontline city blitzed by Russian bombs that residents have refused to abandon.
Just a few miles from the Ukrainian counteroffensive line in the Zaporizhzhia region, there is no work, drinking water, or heating system, and shelling rarely stops.
The last survivors of Stepnohirsk are the elderly, disabled, and their relatives who take care of them.
The Sun gives a harrowing dispatch of life in the war zone as they battle to survive and death and destruction become normal life for many.
The local school, which was turned into a town hall office and the humanitarian hub, became a life support system for those who were still trying to hold on there.
A representative of local authorities, Irina said: “We are begging people to leave with tears in our eyes, but there is only little we can do to convince them,”
Irina knows what she is talking about – a Russianhit the exact classroom she was in last year.
A window pane hit her on the back, and she was showered by glass shards. Only by a miracle did she survive with no major injuries.
But it was in December last year that Irina witnessed a 56-year-old woman being torn apart by a Russian shell.
The victim was just getting back home from the humanitarian hub, carrying bags of aid, when the shell found her.
Irina added: “All of us were in hysterics when her husband came crying.
“Forensics were trying to allocate her body parts and put them together, and at the same time, locals were still coming and asking for humanitarian aid, just like nothing happened.”
All the town hall workers were left severely traumatised and afraid to leave the school building and approach the spot where the woman was killed.
Even though the Russians aim at the building, they believe that it is safer inside.
The school had been hit several times and shrapnel remains stuck in the walls as a chilling reminder of the attacks.
Nearby Zaporizhzhia has become a recurring flashpoint since Putin invadedin February 2022.
We put so much hope in the counter-offensive. We believed all that would be over; now we don’t know what to believe anymore
Europe’s biggestplant based in the region has been under the control of Russian troops sparking fears of a nuclear disaster.
The two sides have accused each other of shelling the vast complex, and international efforts to establish a demilitarised zone around it have failed so far.
In June last year, a hydroelectric dam that provides water to help cool the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant blew up and collapsed causing a massive flood in the area.
Russian forces are believed to have made some advancements near the latest frontline in Robotyne – but the Institute of War(ISW) believes this could be due themoving troops elsewhere.
While a lot of fighting has been focused in the Adviika region, described as the gateway to the city of Donetsk.
If taken by the Russians it would allow them to push the frontline back and make it difficult for Ukraine to retake the contested ground.
Ukraine’s summer counter-offensive was a bid to put Vlad’s troops on the back foot – but in reality, Zelensky’s soldiers gained very little ground, Colonel Richard Kemp told the Sun.
Talking in a December column he wrote: “This year’s counter-offensive gained very little ground at vast cost in both military casualties and munitions, and has now stalled withfirmly set in.
“With inadequate air, artillery and engineering assets, the Ukrainian army was unable to break through strongly constructed Russian defences which had been built up at the same time as the Ukrainians prepared to penetrate them.
“Having seen it first hand on the front lines, I can’t fault Ukrainian military prowess.”
But he blamed the West’s “heel-dragging” when it came to supplying Ukraine with the weapons it so badly needs.
Stepnohirsk grew into a town from the village of Sukhoivanivka in the 1980s after vast deposits of manganese ore nearby were discovered.
Some private houses from village times remain, but there are no Manganese factories or mines anymore.
They were closed in 1996 whendried up and Stephohirsk was plunged into a deep .
Nevertheless, before the full-scale invasion, around 4500 people lived there, getting by on theor commuting just 18 miles to nearby Zaporizhzha.
Now roads leading to the town are only used by soldiers as the war wages on and residents become more and more isolated.
Town hall worker, Olga told The Sun: “We put so much hope in the counter-offensive. We believed all that would be over; now we don’t know what to believe anymore.
“We evacuated all the children from here. All that is left from them are drawings glued to the school walls.”
Now the citizens and the representatives of the administration are unable to think about the future; they only think about surviving any given second.
They have noover the , and even in the present, their lives depend on what Russian attacks will come.
The Ukrainianso far does not have enough resources to move the enemy artillery to a safe distance from the city.
Residents are forced underground into basements of multi-story buildings that are equipped with make-shift wooden stoves and generators.
But after spending so long under enemy fire, some locals are struggling to remain optimistic.
“I cannot take this anymore; I am done. Please help me to get out of here”, a distressed woman’s voice cries on Irina’s phone.
And some locals under pressure have even become collaborators.
The secret service of Ukraine arrested a kindergarten guard in Stepnohirsk, who, according to the lawmakers, sent out the coordination of the school to Russians and helped them aim at the building.
Despite the Kremlim’s bombardment, Ukraine has managed to cause major damage to Putin’s war efforts by air, land, and sea.
Dramatic footage shows the moment Ukraine destroyed a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles in a single blitz usingand missiles.
Ukraine unleashed pin-pointon Putin’s convoy maneuvering near the frontline in Russian-held Donetsk region in a two-hour onslaught.
While Ukraine also claims to have sunk another Russian with 50 sailors onboard – using a kamikaze sea drone.
Footage shared today by Ukraine’s ministry of defence showed the dramatic moment its boats sped toward Vladimir Putin’s £55million Black Sea missile ship “Ivanovets” and sent it up in flames.
The Ukrainian government’s defence intelligence announced the hit on the 184ft warship via messaging service Telegram.
It stated: “‘Ivanovets’ at the bottom – as a result of a special operation of the GUR of the Ministry of Defense, an enemy missile boat was destroyed.”