- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Life Returning to Mariupol After Defeat of Azov Neo-Nazis - Dutch Journalist

© Photo : Sonja van den EndeDutch independent journalist Sonja van den Ende in Volnovakha
Dutch independent journalist Sonja van den Ende in Volnovakha  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.07.2023
Independent journalist Sonja van den Ende is one of the few reporters from Western countries to cover the conflict in Ukraine from the Russian side of the front line — and has been accused in her own of acting as a "propagandist" against the West's proxy conflict with Russia.
A Dutch independent war correspondent says normal life is returning to cities in the Donbass liberated from Ukrainian extremists. Sonja van den Ende spoke to Sputnik just days after returning from her latest trip to Donetsk, Mariupol and Volnovakha.

"I was five days in the Donbass. I was in Mariupol, Donetsk city, everywhere," van den Ende said. "Everything was quiet and yeah, there was no panic or something. People just went to work."

While she was there, Ukrainian forces launched a drone attack on Mariupol, the port city on the Sea of Azov.
"It's actually terrorism, what they say. And I think they're trying to hit something, but I think that, thank god, are not successful."
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The journalist said she first visited Mariupol in April 2022, while the battles were still raging. A year later she now saw construction crews "building everywhere."
"Even the parts that were heavily damaged in the city center are now being renovated, when there can be renovations, of course," van den Ende said. Huge new apartment blocks are there, I saw them myself."
She saw the rebuilding of a damaged school and said the rubble left from weeks of fighting early last year was gone.
"People are on the streets again," the war correspondent said. "And even in Donetsk city, that was very, very terrible, that was also alive again. People are going out, having the food, having a great time doing their shopping."
A general view shows the building of Mariupol International Airport as Russia's military operation in Ukraine continues, in the port city of Mariupol, Donetsk People's Republic. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.07.2023
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Despite the horrors of war, the journalist fell in love with Mariupol.
"It's a beautiful city. It's on the Azov sea. So before everything started, this Russian military operation, before Ukraine bombed it with shells and rockets, it was a tourist resort," van den Ende said. "You can see the beach there. People went to the beach and I think now when it will be rebuilt, that people will go to the beach again and it will be beautiful."
But the city was also the headquarters of the Azov Battalion, who revere Second World War Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. They were finally cornered in the vast Azovstal steel mill complex, with its underground labyrinths of Soviet-era nuclear bomb shelters.
"It was the headquarters of the fascists or neo-Nazis. It was the assault battalion who were hiding in the plant for a few months and they were fighting against the Russians and also to help some residents hostage," van den Ende "We don't know exactly how many and approximately I think 300 people were in there."
Mariupol residents told the journalist "terrible things what happened there."
"The West is saying: 'no, they're not fascist'. Well we have the evidence there that they, they really are neo-Nazis and they were really supported by the West."
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