MARINKA, Ukraine (AP) — The hulking Russian tank swiveled into position between the ruins of two pulverized apartment blocks, paused and fired, a ball of fire and fumes spewing from the muzzle of its cannon.
Just 12 seconds later, it fired again, unleashing another shell on its targets about 50 meters (yards) away on the other side of what had once been a street — many years ago, before fighting destroyed it.
Although Friday marks the grim first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, combat between Russian-backed forces and Ukrainian troops has raged in the country’s east since 2014.
The town of Marinka is among those that have been reduced to rubble. It is in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, where territory is roughly split between Russian and Ukrainian control. The front line runs through what is left of the town — which is very little.
New video footage shot from the air with a drone for The Associated Press shows how particularly intense fighting since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion has left no building in Marinka intact. Many are barely recognizable as buildings at all. Shell-fire has also made matchsticks of the town’s trees — many of them ripped apart at the trunk.
Russian tank-fire, filmed Feb. 19, further added to the destruction, pounding what appeared to be Ukrainian positions amid the ruins.
Marinka’s police chief, Artem Schus, describes his town as “completely destroyed.”
Apart from soldiers, the town has been entirely evacuated “because there is no way for the civilian population to live there,” he told The AP in an interview.
Still, dozens of townspeople have been killed and many wounded, he says.
Schus believes that Russian forces are deliberately razing the ruins, blasting walls that still stand, to “destroy all cover, regardless of whether it is a civilian shelter or a military facility.”
He adds: “They destroy everything because, with their tactics, they cannot defeat our troops, and resort to the destruction of all living things.”
AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov contributed from Krasnohorivka, Ukraine.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine