Those who live in the recently liberated areas depend on humanitarian aid from Russia. Food, water and candles are priceless in Donbass and Mariupol. Retreating Ukrainian forces used scorched earth tactics, killing civilians and destroying houses and infrastructure. They created a humanitarian crisis for thousands of people, referring to the locals as “non-human”. That’s allegedly what citizens of Volnovakha heard from Ukrainian troops, together with promises to burn their city during the retreat.
Some Russian businessmen volunteered to help the residents. Every ten days, they travel to Mariupol, transporting humanitarian aid. Donations for civilians and militia are gathered from all over Russia. Volunteers decided to deliver it personally to minimise bureaucracy on the way. They also evacuate people to their relatives in Russia. Volunteers go to hot spots close to the combat zone to get them.
Convoy always travels with a military escort — Ukrainian nationalist forces continue to use artillery on Donbass, which means Mariupol streets are not safe. So volunteers risk their lives but say it is worth it. ‘... It’s like a constant urge to help people, almost like a disease,’ says volunteer Yury. He travelled 1,500 Km (932 miles) on his trips to Donbass and plans to double it.