Russian troops shell Nikopol near the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia. Residents tell what their life in the city looks like.
Russian troops shell Nikopol near the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia. Residents tell what their life in the city looks like. On the outskirts of Nikopol, on the northern bank of the Dnipro, you can hardly see any vehicles, neither civilian nor military. Juicy, fresh green trees on both sides of the street obscure the view of war-damaged buildings. About 7 km away, on the opposite bank of the wide river, you can see the six reactors of the power plant in Zaporizhia, occupied by Russian troops.
From time to time, explosions are heard from various directions. “Our soldiers and occupiers shoot there” says 37-year-old Oleksandr from Nikopol. He quickly refuels the car at the station and sets off. However, he advises not to stay long in Nikopol. It was pretty quiet this morning. But the missile only takes 15 to 30 seconds to get here, he warns.
Russian artillery repeatedly shells Nikopol from the Zaporozhian Nuclear Power Plant. Since the beginning of the Russian aggression, 44 residents have been killed and 210 injured. When the Russian occupiers recently announced the evacuation of the town of Enerhodar, which is located near the power plant, there was an increased shelling of Nikopol. According to eyewitnesses, mainly settlements near the river were affected. Before the war, Nikopol had a population of about 100 000 inhabitants. According to the authorities, 40 to 50 percent of them are still in the city.
Throughout the day, municipal workers haul mountains of broken bricks, broken glass and window frames in tractors and trailers. Technicians repair power lines. “They keep shooting at us!” day and night. We're restoring deliveries, so there's light everywhere if you win! — says Wiktor, full of optimism.
According to the authorities, the affected area is large in the city of Nikopol itself, along the entire bank of the Dnieper. According to Yevhen Yevtushenko, head of the regional military administration on the ground, nearly three thousand homes have been completely or partially destroyed since the start of the Russian invasion.
According to him, the evacuation of civilians from Enerhodar and other occupied towns near Zaporizhia, announced by the invaders, does not mean the withdrawal of Russian troops from there or the cessation of shelling.
Oleksandr, a worker at the Nikopol ironworks, was on the night shift during the recent shelling. When he got home, he saw that the roof was destroyed, the walls and the car were damaged, and the dog was dead. “Everything here can be destroyed in a second!” Glad no one in the family was injured. My wife managed to escape to the basement when the first explosions occurred, and then a shell hit here – she reports.
He still cannot understand it all, but he is grateful to the municipal services for their quick help. They stretched a special film over the house and helped remove the debris.
There is water, gas, and electricity in Nikopol, there are hospitals and public transport. The shops and markets in the city center are open and – unlike the empty streets on the outskirts – there are many people here.
In the park, a man gives flowers to a young woman, they kiss and smile. Suddenly, an air alert sounds, but neither she nor the woman with the little girl respond. Why don't they run away? The woman replies that there will be no shelling today. — There is a channel on Telegram (Непосредственно Gachi) where information from Enerhodar is posted. Today, only equipment is moved on the other side, he says.
Natalia works at the flower bed opposite the entrance to her business. Why is he tending to the plants during the raid? He says many city dwellers are used to such situations.
— I am calm because I believe in the victorious counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army. More than that: we all do it. We even planted everything in our vegetable gardens. So there is order in the gardens and yards! says the 39-year-old.
He stresses that you shouldn't panic, even if you are so close to the front.
On the other hand, 69-year-old Wiktoria is not so brave. “I'm always very scared. I can't stand the noise of something flying in and then exploding” he admits. He shows the yard of his block, which was hit several times by bullets.
She says she spends almost every night with her husband in the basement because their apartment is on the top floor. – From the upper floors of almost every house you can see the power plant and how they shoot there. All these upper floors are in the direct line of fire, the pensioner shows.
Wiktoria admits that the war changed her a lot. She lost a lot of weight, fell seriously ill several times in the basement, and the war is also a great mental burden for her. “Before the war, I was a completely different person,” she says through tears. She had a cheerful nature, helped people, and thought she could grow old happily.
Despite constant shelling, Wiktoria does not intend to leave Nikopol, because she wants to live at home and close to her daughter. And she, in turn, does not want to give up her job.
Oleksandr has no plans to leave the city either, despite shelling and the nuclear threat posed by the Russian occupation of the nearby power plant. He cannot imagine living in another region of the country, let alone abroad.
“Who else needs us?” People about to retire. And as for the nuclear threat, people still live in the Chernobyl zone, the man notes. A few months ago, the inhabitants of Nikopol received iodine tablets in case of a nuclear power plant accident. In March, local authorities announced a voluntary evacuation from the city. This recommendation has not yet been withdrawn.
All residents of Nikopol are afraid that the Russian troops will increase their shelling due to the expected counteroffensive of the Ukrainian armed forces.
I hope that the fate of Bakhmut will not be repeated here. We are hostages of the situation, because the Ukrainian army will not be able to shoot from Nikopol towards the nuclear power plant, says an elderly man named Mykola, who, after the end of the alarm, bought a few days' supply of milk and bread in a shop in the center of Nikopol. “Just in case” he says.