NewsRussians plan a major assault. Ukrainian town evacuates in fear

Russians plan a major assault. Ukrainian town evacuates in fear

Since the beginning of the war, the Russians have dropped bombs on many Ukrainian cities. Here are the destructions in Kyiv.
Since the beginning of the war, the Russians have dropped bombs on many Ukrainian cities. Here are the destructions in Kyiv.
Images source: © East News | Oleksii Chumachenko/REPORTER

1:16 PM EDT, May 19, 2024

After warnings that the Russians were planning an attack in the Sumy region of Ukraine, a 6-mile-wide zone along the border was evacuated. Almost everyone has left Białopole. The city has come to a standstill, waiting for the offensive.

According to Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (HUR), after attacks on the Kharkiv region, the Russian army plans to launch a major assault near Sumy, northwest of Kharkiv.

Białopole is one of the towns from which almost all residents have left due to continuous shelling and the threat of a new offensive.

This is why the regional defense council decided to evacuate residents voluntarily. The mayor of Białopole said that the critical moment for the city was April 8, when intense bombing and artillery shelling began.

Local newspaper editor Natalia Kalnychenko explains that another decisive moment for the residents was the evacuation of Ryzhivka village this spring. She claims that the Russians did not leave a single house undamaged there. People evacuated under extreme conditions, under fire from shells and drones.

Białopole under fire: "People are afraid to go out on the streets"

The administration has organized free evacuations to Kyiv, Dnipro, Poltava, Kharkiv, and the Kharkiv region for residents who cannot leave alone. Many of them seek help finding accommodation near Białopole, where they could stay for a month or a few weeks "until the situation stabilizes," Zarko explains.

According to the mayor of Białopole, after two years of war, 10-15% of the 16,500 residents remain in the town. Most of them are elderly.

Zarko adds that they were born there, and they decided to die there. Here are their graves. Here are their gardens. But for example, he recalls that one day, a 95-year-old neighbor came to him and said she wanted to evacuate. Moods are different, but the overwhelming majority wanted to leave.

One resident of Białopole said that the town is now empty because people are afraid to go out on the streets due to the threat of shelling. Supermarkets are not operating, and ATMs are not being refilled. Pensions are delivered via a mobile point. Hospitals are scheduling appointments on a short-term basis, and pharmacies are open for a few hours a day. Białopole has come to a standstill, waiting for the offensive.

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