Shyrokyne town which was once a resort on the Sea of Azov became one of the hottest points of conflict in Ukraine. Radio Liberty journalist Andriy Dubchak visited the place that has become a militarized ghost town.
The beach of Shyrokyne, with razor wire strung between “dragon’s teeth” (concrete pyramids designed to stop a military beach landing). Off the beach, naval mines lurk under the waves.
An Orthodox Christian icon bounces in the cabin of a Hummer as Ukrainian soldiers speed toward Shyrokyne.
An Orthodox cross with the words “save and preserve” on the outskirts of Shyrokyne.
Branches sliced off trees by shrapnel.
Most of Shyrokyne now lies in ruins. The village became a major flashpoint in 2015 after Russia-backed separatists operating near Shyrokyne allegedly launched a salvo of Grad rockets into nearby Mariupol, killing 30 civilians.
A file photo of a Grad multiple-rocket launcher. The city of Mariupol lies around 15 kilometers from Shyrokyne, well within range of Grad rocket attacks.
A major offensive was launched by Ukrainian forces in 2015 to retake the town from separatists and prevent further attacks. It has been held by Ukrainian forces ever since, though fighting has flared up regularly.
A file photo of coastline near Shyrokyne photographed in 2013, a few months before war broke out. After Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014, Ukraine’s southern coast became a fiercely contested military objective. Analysts said there was a possibility Russia-backed separatists would try to open up a “land bridge” running from southern Russia, down Ukraine’s coast, to Crimea.
Ukrainian soldiers inside an abandoned beach house.
A fridge painted with the word “STOP” lying in rubble inside Shyrokyne.
Ukrainian soldiers look out over the deserted beach of Shyrokyne.
The tail of a mortar, deeply embedded in rain-soaked ground.
Photographer Andriy Dubchak holds a shard of shrapnel in the center of Shyrokyne.