Written by 14:26 World

A Russian City Adapts to War: Blast Shelters and Drone Jamming

As Alina waited for the bus that would take her to her family’s weekend house outside Belgorod, she made sure to wait deep inside the concrete shelter built early this year around the stop.

It had been nearly six months since she and her 8-year-old brother, Artem, were almost injured in an attack on Belgorod’s central square, the day before New Year’s Eve, when Alina, 14, had taken him ice skating.

“We were lying down, covering our heads with our hands, opening our mouths slightly and just lying on the floor for a long time,” she said, describing how they hid on the kitchen floor of a restaurant just off the square.

“It was very scary, but I’m used to it by now,” she added. “And I know what to do in such situations.” In the months that followed, she had panic attacks and suffered from anxiety, said her mother, Nataliya, who like several others interviewed for this article asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the authorities.

In Moscow, another summer has set in, and life is much the same there as it was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. But Belgorod, 25 miles from the border and once deeply tied to the Ukrainians on the other side, is different. That much is evident pulling into the city’s train station, where hulking concrete shelters like the ones at the bus station appear on the platforms.

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Last modified: 18 June 2024
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