A View From Ukraine’s Front Line Where 8 Miles Away Is Still Too Close

The Ukrainian village of Vrubivka is eight miles from the front lines.

That might seem to be a reasonably safe distance, but not when it’s well within artillery fire range from the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), one of the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that’s largely controlled by Russia.

Since 2014, there have been countless ceasefire violations, but the volume of fire has increased in the last few days as the global crisis over a threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches a fever pitch.

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The large scraper left by an artillery shell.

Alan Chin for Insider


Vrubivka’s 1,100 residents haven’t experienced shelling since February 2018.

Four days ago, on Feb. 17, an artillery shell left a large crater (above) in the yard of the Vrubivskiy Lyceum, a local school that’s benefited from USAID, UNICEF, and Save The Children international funding. Several adults were reportedly injured.

On Monday morning, four more shells hit the street, just down the block from the school.

It shattered dozens of apartment windows and shredded the above-ground gas lines that provide heat and hot water to the neighborhood.

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Rita Volkova shows how she covered her shattered windows with UNHCR plastic.

Alan Chin for Insider


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The school’s principal, Olena Yaryna.

Alan Chin for Insider


The school’s principal, Olena Yaryna, (in gray coat, above) wanted to show the damage to migrants and a local NGO activist who documents the impact of the ongoing conflict on civilians. Yaryna was speaking about the attack of Feb. 17 when another barrage of incoming fire hit the area.

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Olena Yaryna and Oleksandr Zhuravel take cover inside the Vrubivskiy Lyceum school building as incoming shellfire struck the area.

Alan Chin for Insider


At least eight impacts, striking within about a mile, could be heard over the next several minutes, as Yaryna and her staff took cover inside the school building – taking care to stay away from the windows.

The school normally has 53 students, but none of them were there at the time.

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Gas company workers.

Alan Chin for Insider


There was no electricity because the Schastia power plant that services the area had apparently also been hit, were told. About 200 residents lost gas service.

Gas company workers with acetylene torches, having promised the residents that they would restore service as soon as they could, continued their repairs.

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