The Ukrainians sheltering for months in hospital with no power to escape Russian shelling

John Ray reports from a hospital basement-turned-shelter in southern Ukraine, with additional reporting by cameraman Sean Swan and Foreign Affairs Producer Natalie Wright

Along the long southern axis of the war in Ukraine; neither side has moved much in three months.

But don’t call it a stalemate. It’s more a deadly stand-off.

Just ask the people of Huliaipole; an unremarkable little town whose great misfortunes is to be marooned on the front line.

Their enemy is just two miles away. And almost every day they announce their presence with round after round of artillery fire.

A water and mud-filled crater is almost all that is left of a family's home. Credit: ITV News

Here, the Russians' measure progress in wrecked houses and frayed minds. Because this is also a war of nerves.

For three months, Ludmilla and her friends have sheltered in the gloomy basement of the local hospital.

There is no running water, no mains power, and therefore no patients.

Fighting back tears, Ludmilla says: "Who asked the Russians to come here?

"To liberate us from what? To free us from our families, our homes, our lives?"

Ludmilla wiped away her tears as she questioned the purpose of this war. Credit: ITV News

"We will stay for as long as it takes," says her friend Vera, whose home was one of many destroyed in the bombardment.

The morning we visit, the remaining staff are unloading a generator amid the sound of yet more artillery fire.

I’m the only one to flinch. No-one else misses a beat.

"We have grown used to it," says Dr Constantine Kopyl.

"If we have people injured, there’s not much we can do for them apart from send them to a hospital in Zaporizhzhia." (The nearest big city, three hours’ drive away).

Another loud crash sends us rushing to another basement where in the pitch black, Kateryna, 90, is living out her twilight years.

She is deaf but can feel the vibration of the bombs dropping.

For Kateryna, 90, Russia's invasion marks the second in her lifetime. Credit: ITV News

"She is old enough to remember when the Germans occupied us," says her daughter, Olena. "But she thinks the Russians are worse."

The defence of Huliaipole and the villages around it depends on up men like Olesander.

He takes a break from his patrol to tell that in peace time he was a priest - now answering a different kind of calling.

I ask him why he fights. He responds by naming his four young children.

"For them, for my neighbours, for my nation," he says.

Olesander used to be a priest, but is now helping defend his country. Credit: ITV News

The National Defence unit is made up of factory workers, welders, and a retired police officer.

But it’s not military expertise or motivation they lack, captain Andry Bystrik tells us.

"The Russians have plenty of ammunition. They prepared for this war. We have not enough. Especially armoured vehicles. We did not prepare."

One day, he knows, there will be reckoning with the Russians. One side will have to move from their trenches and defensive positions.

A bombed out apartment building in Huliaipole. Credit: ITV News

In the meantime, the artillery duel is unrelenting. And traumatising for the remaining civilian population.

Zhena survived a mortar attack in Huliaipole’s market but only because a neighbour pushed her to the ground.

Zhena survived a market bombing after her friend saved her. Credit: ITV News

Still, there are shrapnel holes in the cloth she was wearing that day.

As we talk, a loud thunder storm passes over head. Zhena looks scared.

"I thought the Russians were firing again," she says.

"These days we are scared of everything."

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