Ukrainian teacher recounts terror as her kindergarten is shelled by Russian rebels – World News
Natalia Butenko fears a Russian invasion as the Fairytale kindergarten is bombarded by the Russians while the infants eat their breakfast. The explosion narrowly missed 20 children, aged two to six
Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
A teacher has recounted the terrifying moment when Russian-backed rebels bombed her school.
The wall of the kindergarten sports hall, where the pupils had gathered a few minutes earlier, was shattered.
And today there was no respite from the terror as shells rained down nearby, which could herald a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Natalia Butenko said: “I was on the other side when the explosion happened – I called the other teachers and we rounded up the children who were very scared.
Natalia, 38, added: “The children were having breakfast when the attack happened.
“They had just finished gymnastics and were going to eat.”
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
The explosion narrowly missed about 20 children, aged two to six, who had left the room minutes earlier.
Even as she spoke outside the Fairytale Kindergarten classroom, loud sounds of incoming shells hit the nearby community.
Natalia was too scared to say what she thought of those who shot at the school two days ago.
The cogs of the Russian war machine are already “in motion”, Western leaders say after a day of “false flag” bombings and attacks in eastern Ukraine.
In such actions, soldiers attack their own side to create a pretext to retaliate.
Half a mile from pro-Russian lines in Stanitsa Luhanska, where separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014, the Sunday People witnessed relentless shelling that mocked a so-called ceasefire. Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, visited the region yesterday.
She said: “People here need psychological support because at the moment the children are not going to kindergarten and they also need financial support. The Russian Federation has fabricated information to give the impression that the kindergarten is in uncontrolled territory and that it was the Ukrainian armed forces that bombed it. Of course, that’s not true.
The Ukrainian soldiers who escorted us to the area – which was hit dozens of times yesterday – warned us to “stay close because it is extremely dangerous here”.
Colonel Oleksander Gain, 38, married with two children, told the Sunday People: “You can hear for yourself what is going on here. It is bombed even now and it is a civilian area.
“The nearest military installation is probably five kilometers away and yet they are still firing shells and mortars here.”
When asked if the Ukrainian forces were fighting back, he replied: “I would say it only happens when there is a danger to the lives of our soldiers and we have to put out the fire.”
Troops here estimate pro-Russian separatists fired 20 shots for their one time.
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
He added: “The Russians are occupiers and invaders. They don’t care about life and quality of life. If we retaliate, we must bear in mind that when they retaliate, they could harm these communities.
“And we’re calculating that they’re shooting at us at an increasing rate right now.”
Local man and ex-engineer Volodymyr, 59, passed us on his bike, casually running errands. He remained in the beleaguered community with his wife despite most family members fleeing.
Volodymyr, a grandfather, says: “I was born here and I’m not leaving. I have no choice but to stay because I don’t have a job and where would I go anyway?
“Every day we get an early morning hello from the Russian bombings. It’s frightening.
“My family is very worried about me but maybe I’ll be fine, even if it’s the worst bombardment since 2015.” In a day of heightened violence, Russia says two shells landed in the Rostov region less than a kilometer from the Ukrainian border. Kyiv denies it.
In a further sign of “false flag” operations that could serve as a pretext for a full invasion, local media reported that the separatists had shelled their own positions near Mariupol and blamed the Ukrainian army.
Ukraine said two of its soldiers were killed and five injured today in shelling by pro-Russian separatists.
The Ukrainian army has reported 70 violations of the ceasefire by separatists since the start of the day, against 66 the day before. The Ukrainian government has declared: “We will not allow firing at the positions of our troops and our
settlements with impunity.