Outside of Donetsk, the clash between the pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian army has become a bloodbath for civilians. Paris and Berlin fear the worst. The special correspondents Émilie Blachère and Alvaro Canovas from Paris Match were on the front.
More than 5,300 deaths, negotiations seem to lead nowhere. The conflict in Eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian and the Ukrainian army is intensifying. The latest clashes have gained the separatists over 500 kilometers along with the Donetsk airport. According to Kiev, 1500 Russian soldiers armed with rocket launchers and other pieces of heavy artillery crossed the border over the weekend, joining forces preparing to launch an attack on the port of Mariupol. The diplomatic ballet initiated by France and Germany continues in the hopes that Vladimir Putin will yield. But the Russian president has stood his ground, providing the rebels with military support without admitting it.
The remaining civilians are left with no choice, lacking money and refuge. Some who had gone into exile returned in the fall, convinced that the worst of the conflict was behind them. The crossfire of shells and missiles keeps them shut inside. Hundreds of people are crowded into labyrinthine cellars. Hope wanes but not the sense of solidarity. The days drag on. They celebrate the birthdays of the dead with cakes made of flour and water. Small alcoves are turned into makeshift rooms, a sheet over the entrance offering a semblance of privacy. To sleep, whole families gather into a single room. But even the dawn is like an endless night.
L’Œil de la Photographie is partner of L’Instant Paris Match.