Dean O'Brien's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘ATO

Sloviansk – Part 2: Welcome..

leave a comment »

I knew within this city there were people who would want to tell me what life was like here.  Innocent people caught up in a conflict they never wanted.   On my first day I met 18 year old Polina who offered to show me around.  She speaks great English (much better than my Russian at least) and although she studies at university in Kharkiv, fortunately for me she was back home in Sloviansk for a few days.


As we wander the streets, I’m shown the sights and we visit what remains of the Koliba Restaurant destroyed in 2014 by heavy shelling.  Building after building line the roads marking a trail of devastation throughout the city.  It’s kind of hard to imagine what all this must have been like on the days when all this shelling actually took place.

Later, we head towards more residential, built-up areas and Polina invites me back to the apartment for tea that she shares with her mother.  It was here that I was shown damage caused by shells landing nearby to her apartment block back in 2014.

IMG_0961 copy

IMG_0950 copy

One window remains broken, caused by shrapnel.  The cost is too much to repair, not to mention the fact that the war is still close by so there’s little point in starting to repair things just yet.  With winter just around the corner, it’s the last thing this family need.  The remaining windows now have tape placed across them, in the hope that this will stop them shattering and blowing shards of glass inwards, should another shell land within close proximity to their building.

IMG_0952 copy

Living with the ‘not-knowing’ is the issue here.  Sloviansk is located just outside the ATO zone so although quiet, it is still considered a hot spot.

IMG_0940 copy

These green gates, riddled with shrapnel from a rocket which landed nearby in 2014, mark the entrance to a local residents home.  I suppose they offer a short glimpse into what people here have to live with.  It doesn’t stop people going about their daily business though.  Buses run and kids go to school, but the huge military presence here is impossible to ignore.






Written by Dean O'Brien

November 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Ukraine

Tagged with , , ,

Next Stop – Mariupol

with one comment

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be heading down to Mariupol in the south east of Ukraine. The area came briefly under control of DPR forces in 2014 before being taken back by Ukrainian forces.  In all honesty, I’m not sure what to expect.  Although it’s outside of the ATO zone, it came under attack a few days ago in the east of the city.  It’s of great strategic  importance to both sides of the conflict due to its key location.

There’s no set agenda.  I’ll take an overnight train, my camera and go and speak to people about the current situation there.  Hopefully I’ll also be able to shoot some video footage, but it’s hard to say until I actually get there.

I’ve added a link to a video below from Victory Day  in Mariupol on May 9th 2014.  Be warned, some of the scenes are fairly graphic but it shows to some extent the brutality of war especially when it directly involves the civilian population.

You’ll see from the comments below the video, just how divided people are with what they witness in the footage.

Written by Dean O'Brien

June 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Ukraine

Tagged with , , , ,