In the northern Ukrainian border town of Vovchansk, the situation is escalating: Russian attacks are forcing thousands to flee, while the infrastructure is collapsing under the strain.

“Peace and quiet” are over in the Ukrainian border town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region of northern Ukraine. Russian troops have launched a new ground offensive that dwarfs previous conflicts. Residents who have become accustomed to sporadic border clashes over the past two years now have no choice but to abandon their homes and flee the violence.

Since Friday, the thunder of war, which residents previously perceived as background noise, has increased. Russian glide bombs and drones force residents to flee. Over 4,000 people have already left Vovchansk and surrounding villages, reports the Telegraph, including 51-year-old Olena. “The situation is absolutely f—ed,” is how she describes her situation.

The Russian offensive leads to heavy fighting in the suburbs of Vovchansk. According to the Kremlin, Russian troops have penetrated deep into Ukrainian lines. It remains unclear whether this is part of a renewed offensive towards Kharkiv or merely serves as a diversionary tactic.

Vovchansk, a city occupied by Russian troops for six months, now faces the threat of renewed occupation. The approximately 3,000 remaining residents have stayed either out of patriotism, out of sheer stubbornness or simply because they have no other choice.

The new Russian attack puts further pressure on Ukraine. Attacks are also increasing in the east of the Donbas region. Despite the difficult situation, the belief in the defense of the country remains strong among the Ukrainian troops. “The situation is fine, we are defending our country and no matter what they do, we can repel them,” the Telegraph quoted a Ukrainian officer as saying.