Day 2: AIF in Donbass – We visit Donetsk

We come across many destroyed buildings along the way. We frequently observe the movement of military vehicles. Vehicles in convoy or one by one are on the road. Most of them are on the route of return from the DPR side.

After a long journey we arrive in Donetsk. Many buildings are damaged but the people still continue their normal life. Although Donetsk is closer to the front and despite the constant sounds of explosions coming from the front, it is more lively and modern than Lugansk. Lugansk resembled a completely deserted area. We were greeted by artillery fire. Every three to five minutes, shots are fired from our side to the Ukrainian side. As we walk towards the first place we will visit, we see the destruction of the Victoria Hotel, which was bombed in the centre of the city. It is one of the biggest buildings but it is still standing. We can hear the air defence system being activated from where we are.

As in every city, there is also a monument to the heroes of the Donbass people built on the site of the former Soviet Union monument. We first visit the monumental statues of the former head of state Alexandr Zaharchenka and other commanders. Zaharchenka is a hero for the people. The president, who was a businessman before the war, transferred all his assets to the struggle to defend his people and homeland against the Nazis when the war started. He organised and commanded the resistance of his people on the front lines. He was killed along with his bodyguards in a cafe he frequently went to, when a bomb device planted in the attic was detonated. But he has a very big place in the hearts of the people.

We settle in our hotel and wait for our first visit. When the old presidential building opposite us was targeted and destroyed, our hotel was also damaged by shrapnel. Its windows are still broken. We still hear the sounds of artillery shelling from afar from time to time.

Authorities are coming to transport the health supplies we have brought to the front line and we are explaining what we have brought. Most of the materials were brought from Italy. As AIF, we brought as many medical supplies as we could to the people of Donbass with us. After delivering them, we place them in their cars and send them with a medic friend and a representative among us. We are waiting for our friends and we want to learn what they saw with excitement.

We learn that everything is very organised in military hospitals and treatment areas. In the last year, those who were brought from the front wounded were saved due to the professionalism of the first intervention. And not a single one of the five hundred wounded has lost their lives. Russian volunteers and medics are the main contributors to the success.

We meet Okay Deprem, a political scientist, journalist and reporter from Turkey. He has been among the people of Donbass for about ten years and is the only Turkish journalist in the region. We get information about his work here and make an appointment for an interview the next day.

There is no running water. The people have been suffering from water shortage for a long time, but since 2022 February, as a result of Ukraine’s targeted attacks on the water network, water is provided for one hour a day in the evening. There is no hot water at all. In the same way, the hot water system was also targeted. The Soviet initiative and the right to hot water for everyone is a great achievement. We don’t mind, of course.

All night long we tried to sleep amid the sounds of artillery shelling and missile defence systems. When we listen to the sounds and think about the suffering of the people who have heard the same sounds for months, the fact that the scale of the events is in front of the eyes of the so-called European democracy increases the gravity of the event. Millions of people from both sides leaving their homes and the lands they live in is happening in front of our eyes. Who is responsible for this, which hand; the war-mongering NATO and the USA and the collaborator Ukrainian state that betrayed its homeland. The answer to this is so clear for the people here. The US and its collaborators, who have started more than eighty wars to protect their hegemony and have killed millions of people.

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