Carpet bombings are indiscriminate – devastatingly destructive and completely accidental.
But if you are an advancing army, it is a deadly and effective tactic and it is being ruthlessly used against the citizens of Saledar.
Over the past 72 hours, the topography of the city in eastern Ukraine in the Donbass has changed dramatically as the Russians intensify their offensive in the region.
Now in city parks and on the main streets, as well as outside a few apartment buildings, there are craters and huge holes.
Offices, shops, the main administrative center, sanatoriums and apartment buildings remained in the holes.
And all the time we are in the city, there is always a war: missiles “Hail” (Russian weapons), come “Hail”.
The residents we meet are a mixture of those who seem to be fully accustomed to the roar of rockets launched and landing, and those who, for obvious reasons, are restless.
A dark cloud of anticipation hung over Saledar, and it was not weather. They can almost smell the offensive of the Russian military, and ahead of them are very dark times, if it will continue as it has been in recent days.
“Mother’s heart can’t accept this”
Nila is bright and friendly when we meet – and almost certainly still shocked and saddened by the loss of her 28-year-old daughter Valentina, who died in a shelling in Mariupol two months ago while trying to cook over a fire outside.
Neil hugs a photo of her daughter when she shows it to us and kisses her.
“That’s all we have left of her memory,” she says, then recovers. “No, the memory of her is in my heart and in my head. But my heart can’t accept that. No mother’s heart can accept that. “
In front of the photo she puts flowers and her daughter’s favorite sweets. She couldn’t even bury Valentine. A friend buried her in the courtyard in Mariupol.
“We do it because we can’t visit her grave,” Neil tells us. She cries briefly, almost perceiving it as a weakness. “We have to be strong,” she says. “We live for my second daughter and our grandson.” She is one of the strongest, strongest women in Ukraine.
She leads us to her apartment on the second floor. Outside, no more than five meters from the block, is an eight-foot crater where the bomb had fallen about 48 hours earlier.
“That’s what’s left of our apartment,” she says, looking up at the floor with broken windows and broken frames on her block.
Her balcony is now an “open plan”. No glass is left intact and half the wall is missing.
She, like a number of others, moved to a basement and an extremely strong Soviet bunker to avoid the increasingly fierce attacks of Russians, whom they once considered “family.”
They certainly know how to build bunkers – perhaps knowing how brutal and catastrophic war can be.
The basement is amazingly homey, with light, warmth and stacks of provisions. There’s a budgie and a very big dog, and mostly women and children and some older people who seem very quiet and reserved.
The most lively person is a 10-year-old girl named Diana, who is friendly and happy to see us. She still sticks to her dream of becoming a singer and entertains both the adults there and us with her music.
She makes a wonderfully contagious rendition of her scholarly tune TikTok, which is in Russian and seems to be about eating pasta.
It doesn’t matter. It makes adults smile, and they definitely need something to smile about. The irony of the Russian joke, which brings joy, is lost for this beautiful, innocent and extremely happy girl who fascinates us and her companions.
“I’m happy there is no school”
“Obviously, I want the war to end,” she says solemnly. “The explosions are terrible … but that’s okay. I am happy that there is no school, ”and she smiles when her mother scolds her.
Three explosions above the ground while we are in the basement, listening to Diana sing to us. We don’t hear them, and neither does she.
Let’s hope it stays that way, but the Russians are advancing to the Donbass. It’s slow, but they’re moving forward. They want to capture the Donbass as much as possible, it seems, and one half – Lugansk – is already in sight.
They are unlikely to stop now – if not forced.
Alex Crawford works with cameraman Jake Britton and producers Chris Cunningham, Artem Lysak, Nick Davenport and Misha Chernyak.