Elderly and vulnerable remain as Russian troops close in on Bakhmut

Amid a heavy military presence in Ukraine’s eastern frontline, a Russian-speaking pensioner, Oleg, has refused to leave the city and said “People left here are pensioners, blind and limping like me. I have no options, with my pension I have no choice to leave somewhere, no one knows where. Before everything was bombed, we had electricity and gas, heating. Now there is nothing.” 

His living room floor is littered with alcohol bottles, as the only joy he finds amid the war is listening to Pink Floyd albums saved on his memory card with a beer in his hand.

He is one of the few remaining residents in the devastated city as most residential areas have been destroyed, just 10 kilometres from the frontline in Bakhmut. 

“I don’t care, I just want to peacefully live my pensioner years. I am far from politics and was never interested in it. And I cannot watch the news now, the TV and radio are not working” said Oleg.

While fighting remains concentrated in the east of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that his country needs no less help than before.

“Compared to last year, it’s quieter in many places now. But this does not mean that somewhere you can ignore the war or be less focused on helping the state,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video address.

Zelenskyy reported on a regular meeting with staff, during which “difficult directions” in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were discussed.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more military aid to support Ukraine in its war with Russia while hosting Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Toronto on Tuesday.

The new military assistance includes 21,000 assault rifles, 38 machine guns, and over 2.4 million rounds of ammunition.

“We are preparing for our counteroffensive. We need more ammunition, we need more weaponry, we need more military equipment,” Shmyhal said.

Shmyhal thanked Canada for its support since Russian forces invaded in February 2022, which has included billions of euros in economic and military aid.

Trudeau also said Canada is imposing new sanctions on Russian and Belarusian authorities and organisations in retaliation for the ongoing invasion.

“Ukraine is fighting for the values and the principles that underpin all of our democracies,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to do everything necessary to ensure Ukraine prevails.”

Canada also provided a €1.62 billion loan to the government of Ukraine to support essential services, including pension payments and restoring damaged energy infrastructure. 

Canada’s total commitment to Ukraine has surpassed €5.43 billion.

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