Ukrainians in newly liberated Balakliia describe how occupiers had been plotting the sham referendum on Moscow’s annexation
Balakliia’s only functioning shop was packed. Residents who had spent six months under Russian occupation queued to buy bread, salami and frozen mackerel. “When the Russians arrived I lost 10 kilograms. My wife lost eight kilograms. There was almost nothing to eat for the first two months,” one customer, Valery, recalled. Showing off his reduced waistline, he joked grimly: “That’s the upside of Moscow rule.”
Russian troops came to Balakliia in March. This was soon after Vladimir Putin’s invasion. They raised a Russian tricolour above the modern brick town administration building, and parked their tanks in a sprawling factory. Two weeks ago the Ukrainian army chased them out in a dramatic counter-offensive. Kyiv reclaimed almost all of the Kharkiv region, an area half the size of Wales.
Russia | The Guardian