Kryvyi Rih, a large industrial city in Ukraine where my immediate family lives, is located 43–49 miles from the frontline, so many of the wounded soldiers receive treatment in its hospitals. Both of my parents are doctors, and our conversations about their work often leave me speechless. Recently, my mom was testing new methods of lung ultrasound diagnosis with a group of patients — volunteers, who are mostly military officers. One of them shared with my mom that during the retreat from a small town, Soledar, something small and sharp — likely a bullet or a missile fragment — hit his ribcage.
It is no surprise that the war comes with countless tragic injuries and losses. What was striking in the short story of this man is the painful casualness: another reminder that we must continue to spread awareness about and fight Russian aggression, as its consequences should not become a norm in any society. Soledar, where the soldier was injured, is roughly six miles northeast of the city of Bakhmut, where Russia and Ukraine both report over 100 losses a day. While some experts hold the opinion that Bakhmut might not have strong strategic significance, the fierce battles for the city continue partially due to its symbolic value.
Ukrainian Deputy Commander Volodymyr Nazarenko called the city “a fortress.” Despite daily attacks, the military forces stationed there still fight, closing the access for Russians to the bigger Donetsk cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Approximately 10,000 remaining residents (the pre-war population of Bakhmut was around 80,000) who did not evacuate are trying to survive in the ruined city. Russia has been held back in most places, but they have been able to make headway in Bakhmut, and capturing it “has become this rallying cry in the Russian information space.”
The ongoing battles are transforming into the “spring offensive,” with Bakhmut remaining as one of the main targets for both sides, among a few other Ukrainian cities. The impending war developments, as the weather becomes warmer and as armies find opportunities to collect more personnel and weapons, have been widely discussed throughout this winter. The “spring offensive” is considered by some to be a potential turning point of Russia’s war against Ukraine, but the situation on the frontline is vague. Ukraine and Russia might not be sharing the exact details of recent battles, as I hear from my family that there are many attacks that go unreported. What is certain, however, is that as intensity of the battles will likely escalate in the spring, Ukraine will need more support than ever.