​No power or water in Ukrainian village, only despair

CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer has been reporting from Ukraine for the last week. This is part of a series of reports from the front lines of eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian troops and civilians are struggling to fend off attacks from pro-Russian separatists.


DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine -- With the shelling on temporary hold, convoys of buses were sent in by both sides to rescue anyone desperate to leave. Thousands have been trapped for three weeks - on the receiving end of constant shelling.

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A convoy of buses escorts stranded Ukrainian villagers out of a battle zone
CBS News

Russian-backed separatists have been pounding the area around Debaltseve with grad rockets, trying to force the Ukrainian army out and leaving exhausted residents without power or water.

On Friday they lined up for badly needed aid that had just arrived, amid the sounds of explosions and the evidence of weeks of war - ruined buildings and a puddle of blood.

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Ukrainian villagers line up to receive aid that had just arrived
CBS News

By day's end the Ukrainian government said its buses had evacuated 600 people. But just ten miles up the road Ukrainian troops were on the move, regrouping for the next battle. And in a village nearby - that had also been under fire - there were no buses, just despair.

"Where are we supposed to go?" yelled one woman. "Why are they bombing us? Why can't they stop this war?"

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A Ukrainian woman expresses despair amid the war in her country
CBS News

The women we spoke to told us they don't care who wins this fight. They say they just want to live in peace, in a normal country.

But they - like the families who made their escape by bus today - know what they're probably facing is life shattered by more war.

As for the peace talks that took place in Moscow Friday, there was no breakthrough. However, they are due to resume on Sunday as a four-way conversation with the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."