The journalist special envoy to Ukraine and collaborator of Atalayar went through the microphones of the program De Cara al Mundo to analyze the situation in Ukraine, in Kharkiv, where she is, and on the front of Bakhmut

Maria Senovilla: "Bakhmut is the blackest point of the Ukrainian war. Up to 400 Ukrainian soldiers a day are being killed"

photo_camera REUTERS/GLEB GARANINCH - File photo. Cars on fire after a Russian military attack, in the centre of Kiev, Ukraine, 10 October 2022

In the latest episode of "De Cara al Mundo", on Onda Madrid, we had the participation of Mar铆a Senovilla, journalist special envoy to Ukraine and collaborator of Atalayar, who as every Friday analyzes the progress and the situation in Ukraine, especially in Kharkiv, the city where she is, and in Bakhmut, where one of the toughest battles is taking place since the Russian invasion of the country began. 

Are the Russians still shelling there in the position you are in in Kharkiv?

They are still shelling. In the last attack, which was around nine o'clock in the evening, we heard three big detonations and then for a while we heard the anti-aircraft defense working to neutralize more sorties. The soldiers who are operating this anti-aircraft defense said that due to the weather circumstances the visibility was very low, less than 1 kilometer, and it was very complicated to stop that first wave of missiles. 

A 40 year old man died and two other women were wounded and are hospitalized because out of those three impacts, one of the missiles fell in what is called here the private sector, which is nothing more than a residential neighborhood. At 9 o'clock at night people are in their homes. As we have talked about here, it gets dark at four in the afternoon, there are no street lights and on days like yesterday when up to 15 centimeters of snow accumulated, which you can't distinguish between curbs and sidewalks, you can imagine that everybody is at home. This poor man was there when the missile hit and there was little he could do.

Russia counters what are Ukrainian attacks against bases on its territory. This may give it a new dimension, these attacks are not new, but the fact that Ukraine is now deciding to attack Russia on its own territory is new.

And the fact that it is attacking with weapons of its own manufacture is also new. Here the United States has quickly come out to say that they have not supplied the long-range weapons and this is a step forward by Ukraine, to say that they are not going to stand by and take all the fire without doing anything about it. The problem is that we all know that every time Ukraine attacks a Russian target, be it the last attack it suffered in Sevastopol, these two airfields on Russian soil from where the bomber planes that bomb us here in Kharkiv normally take off, it is a target from the point of view of the Ukrainian Armed Forces totally legitimate.

So I think that this may revive precisely that intention of the Kremlin to continue pounding the Ukrainian electric infrastructure which, by the way, there was talk that they had destroyed 30% or 35%. Zelenski updated those figures a few days ago and it seems that 45% to 50% of Ukraine's electrical infrastructure is damaged at the moment. It's a miracle we still have electricity.

The cold has become another weapon on the part of the Kremlin. These bombings apart from destroying electricity and communications, what they do is undermine the morale of Ukrainians, right? 

Morale, heating and life. Here in Kharkiv, the City Council has decided to leave no one behind. In addition to installing those two hundred points of invincibility that we talked about last week, which are places where there is heating, generators so that people can charge their mobile devices and stoves where you can even cook, the City Council has launched another initiative which is to distribute hot food because the blackouts are getting longer and longer.

I spent 5 hours yesterday without electricity, but there are districts where there are 9 hours in a row without electricity, and if you don't have gas for cooking you can't prepare your food. Imagine with temperatures this week ranging from 8 to 20 degrees below zero. So they are handing out meals at points like big schools that have dining rooms where they take advantage to prepare food for those people who have no possibility to prepare food at home because of these blackouts. And I thought that, given that we have more time for electricity than we don't, that this initiative would not have too much demand right now. To my surprise, yesterday they published the figures of the first week in which these hot meals have been distributed and I will tell you that in 7 days 140,000 people have come for hot meals, because they have no possibility to prepare them at home. And there is the whole winter ahead. 

What is happening in the battle of Bakhmut? The news we are receiving is of the death of very many people.

Yes, we have to look to the Donbas because Bakhmut is precisely the blackest point of the war in Ukraine. This week, both the Institute for the Study of War, which is a prestigious American think tank, and other international thin tanks, have agreed that up to 400 Ukrainian soldiers a day are being killed and wounded in Bakhmut. 

And beyond the number, which is just a figure, I have been able to talk in recent days with different military sources, both official and combatants who have been there, and what they say makes one's hair stand on end. The city is for the moment under Ukrainian control, but the Russian troops have stationed their artillery close enough to fire there, but far enough away so as not to expose their troops too much. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army, as it has to defend the terrain, has a lot of infantry, light units, paramilitary units that can do little against the bombs. This combat front has become today a real human meat grinder. That's how crude I can say it. 

Right now it is one of the most, if not the most, worrying point for Zelenski's armed forces. Our listeners are probably wondering what is the importance of Bakhmut to take such a commitment to defend the position with such a very high cost of living. Bakhmut is not an iconic city like Severodonetsk was, where one of the great battles of this war also took place. Bakhmut is not that kind of iconic city. However, it is a communications hub that is key to the supply lines of Ukrainian troops in Donetsk province, and it is also the buffer that contains the advance of Kremlin troops towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. If the Russian Army were to take these two cities, it would gain almost total control of the Donetsk province and, therefore, of the entire Donbas, something that Putin could already sell as a great victory. So you can imagine the effort that the Kremlin is putting right now in taking Bakhmut and what it is costing the Ukrainians to defend it.

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