CRF Blog

Ukraine’s War Wounds

by Bill Hayes

In Ukraine’s War Wounds for Radio Free Europe, Christopher Miller reports on the effects of the war in the east, now in its fourth year. His report includes several pieces of video.

This past summer I was back, looking for any signs of healing. I drove through the government-controlled area and the length of the entire front line, revisiting people and places familiar from my early years here. Russia-backed separatist leaders denied me access to areas under their control.

What I found were open wounds. Towns reduced to rubble. Fighting where a shaky cease-fire has failed. And Ukrainians: tracing the last days of a lost son; running a vital factory between bouts of shelling to keep the region’s lights on; fighting for a common future; or rocking a stadium full of fans near the front line in an effort to hold together the stitches of a frayed nation.

More than three years of war has transformed much of the Donbas into a wasteland. Vital infrastructure — airports, bridges, buildings, highways, and power and water lines — has been destroyed. Tens of thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance have contaminated much of its precious black earth, rendering it unfarmable.

The devastation to property is estimated at more than $50 billion. Life has been made wretched for many of the roughly 6 million people who reside in the designated conflict zone, especially some 300,000 along the front line.

Some places are so badly destroyed that they are no longer inhabitable. [more]