Ukrainian farmer shelters in old cellar from war with just pickles to eat

·2 min read

STUDENOK, Ukraine (Reuters) - A farmer living close to the frontline of war in Ukraine's east has converted his old cellar into a bomb shelter with only his last jar of pickles to eat, saying he feels more comfortable there than in his house.

Just 400 of the 1,200 pre-war inhabitants are hanging on in the village of Studenok in the Kharkiv region two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Artem Bogryap is one of them, saying he knows nowhere else to go.

"I am not leaving here, this is my land. My relatives are buried here. So I'm staying in place," he told Reuters on Tuesday during a welcome spell of calm in the village, as a small pot steamed over a makeshift camping cooker.

"The fighting is really close to here now, so it gets really frightening sometimes," he said.

Walking down a few steps from his yard into the cellar, he points out a door he has built on the side hoping it would help secure against collapse during shelling.

"It is already quite old, but I feel more comfortable staying inside," he said while sitting on a bench in the cellar.

"This is a can of pickles, the last one. There is nothing here, just a passage to get through. You cover your head, but of course there's little (more) you can do."

Ukraine's general staff has said Russian forces are pressing their offensive in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and that they had captured several settlements.

Russia denies targeting civilians in the conflict and describes its actions as a "special operation" to disarm Ukraine and defeat fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

(Reporting by Hamuda Hassan and Parniyan Zemaryalai, editing by Mark Heinrich)