In Kharkiv, Ukraine, you can still hear the sound of explosions, but now it’s outgoing, with the Ukrainians firing at the Russians in retreat.
Russia started withdrawing its forces from around Ukraine’s second-largest city earlier this week after near constant bombardment.
Now, residents are beginning to slowly return to life, amid buildings pockmarked with damage.
“It’s a horrible sight,” one man told CTV News’ Chief International Correspondent Paul Workman. “Considering that Kharkiv is one of the most historic cities of this country.”
Russian bombing ripped through the spires of an orthodox church, but not enough to silence its bells. Windows were broken on the Federation of Trade Unions building. Many residents have had their homes destroyed, and can only return to salvage things.
One woman told CTV National News her dog wanted to go out just before the Russians shelled her building in the suburbs, and that it probably saved her life.
The Russians pounded Kharkiv with rockets and artillery, but never made it into the city with their troops.
Despite the damage, life is returning to the city. The first public event in three months was a rock and roll concert, with the time and place kept secret until the last minute to avoid being targeted.
“Kharkiv was holding on as strong as rock,” an organizer of the event told CTV National News. “The world can now see what we’re capable of.”
Organizers said an air raid siren went off just as the musicians started playing, but the concert went ahead anyway.
First, the Russians scrapped plans to occupy Kyiv — now it appears they’ve given up on Ukraine’s second largest city, their forces driven back as music returns to Kharkiv.