As Troops Pull Out, Ukraine Frontline Village Fears For Future

(@FahadShabbir)

As troops pull out, Ukraine frontline village fears for future

While Ukrainian troops were stationed in her village, Anna felt safe despite living on the frontline of a war that has claimed thousands of lives over the last five years

Stanytsya Luganska, Ukraine, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 15th Aug, 2019 ) :While Ukrainian troops were stationed in her village, Anna felt safe despite living on the frontline of a war that has claimed thousands of lives over the last five years.

But since they started to withdraw two months ago from Stanytsya Luganska, eastern Ukraine, she says she feels exposed to the Russian-backed separatists nearby.

"Now we are afraid that they may cross the border by the river at night and occupy the village," the 53-year-old says, dropping her head in despair as she speaks outside her house.

"And then life will be over." The village lies close to the self-proclaimed, pro-Russian Lugansk and Donetsk "People's Republics" and -- as Anna stresses -- just miles through the forest from Russia itself.

At the beginning of the conflict between Kiev and the separatists in 2014, Anna and her husband fled their native Lugansk as the pro-Russian groups took control.

The couple settled in the Kiev-controlled village Stanytsya Luganska.

Now, months after former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was elected to the Ukrainian presidency with promises to end the conflict, Kiev's soldiers and hardware are beginning to withdraw.

Zelensky went to the village in July with European Council President Donald Tusk, shortly after a "disengagement" that saw both Ukrainian forces and separatists pull back several hundred metres from the frontline.

The disengagement, hailed by the international community, was first signed off in Minsk in 2016.

But the process was frozen for years due to sporadic and sometimes serious clashes between the sides.

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