“It would be nice if we could just come to work and not have to worry about the war, not have to always be ready to fling ourselves to the ground if there are particularly loud bangs,”
said Mikhail, a shift manager who has worked at the plant for more than two decades. Outgoing artillery fire could be heard as he spoke.
As always, there have been a flurry of competing claims over who started this round of fighting.
In Kiev, officials said Russia-backed separatists had been preparing for an offensive for some time.
“In recent weeks we’ve had intelligence of at least 170 vehicles with munitions and at least 60 with fuel crossing from Russia. It was definitely prepared,”
the foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, said during an interview in Kiev last week.
The violence that began in the hours after Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, spoke by telephone was, according to Kostiatyn Yeliseieiv, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration,
“a test from the Russian side of the reaction of the new American administration and unity inside the European Union”.
On the ground, however, things look more complicated. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have made creeping advances.
In this latest flare-up, it appears the Russia-backed rebels were the first to fire heavy artillery. But one Ukrainian soldier based in the “industrial zone”
– a stretch of front where the opposing lines are just half a mile apart –
claimed the Ukrainians had provoked the rebel side into an aggressive response by seizing a small stretch of road. “We knew exactly what to do, and it worked perfectly,” he said. “It’s all our territory, after all.”