'Is Russia not big enough...': Ukraine grandmother, 82, asks Vladimir Putin after her home is bombed

Russia Ukraine war: Russia has been fighting for days to capture Bakhmut because it offers direct connectivity with eastern Ukraine's Donbas region
Maria Mayashlapak, 82, is a resident of Ukraine's Bakhmut which has been shelled by Russian forces (CREDIT: AFP)(AFP)
Maria Mayashlapak, 82, is a resident of Ukraine's Bakhmut which has been shelled by Russian forces (CREDIT: AFP)(AFP)
Updated on May 24, 2022 12:05 PM IST
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By | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

'God heard me... God is watching over me' - the fervent words of 82-year-old Maria Mayashlapak, who clings to life in Ukraine's Bakhmut after her home was destroyed by Russian aerial fire, forcing her to live among the ruins and in fear of the next - fatal - attack. "I was reciting my morning prayer to God to keep me from getting injured and, at that moment, there was a big bang and plaster started falling on my head," she told news agency AFP, recounting the terrifying moment a bomb launched by Russia forces landed on her kitchen.

Other residents of Bakhmut - a crucial junction that serves as a command centre for much of the Ukrainian war effort - told AFP of the aerial onslaught. 

Maria - half of whose house looks in danger of either caving in or sliding into the muddy crater left by the missile - prays daily for the war to end. 

"I ask God, 'what do they want? Is Russia not big enough for them? Why are they killing people?' I ask God to restore reason to Russia."

The video shared by AFP underlines the devastation not just to Maria's home but those of her neighbours and others in the community. 

Entire houses have been wrecked and only burnt wooden posts and piles of mud remain where once there were picturesque village homes.

Heart-breaking visuals show bombed buildings - twisted hunks of concrete and metal with ripped out sides and shattered windows.

Inside you can see kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms - once the centres of every day life of hundreds of local men and women.

Bakhmut's deputy mayor, Maksim Sutkovoi, says people do not want to leave their homes and lives, even though they face death on a daily basis and evacuation has been made (technically) mandatory.

Russia has been fighting for days to capture Bakhmut because it links to eastern Ukraine's Donbas, which is now the focus of Moscow's brutal war.

The war on Ukraine today entered its fourth month... and there is no sign Putin or the Kremlin will back off any time soon, despite pressure from the world and some of the toughest economic, cultural and sporting sanctions ever.

READ: As Ukraine war enters 4th month, Biden says 'dark hour in history'

An accurate number of dead - on either side - will probably never be available. 

Ukraine has also accused Russia of targeting civilians - like Maria - which is against modern rules of war. Russia has rejected the charge.

READ: 'I kill criminals, not kids...': Philippine's Rodrigo Duerte smacks Putin

This week, though, a court in Ukraine sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing a civilian - an unarmed man - in a first war crimes trial.

Russia has retaliated by hinting it may similarly try fighters who surrendered after its siege of Mariupol.

With input from AFP

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