The New York TimesThe New York Times

How a Dispute Over Groceries Led to Artillery Strikes in Ukraine

By Andrew E. Kramer

15 Nov 2021 · 6 min read

HRANITNE, Ukraine — Artillery shells fired by Russian-backed separatists shrieked into this small town deep in the flatlands of eastern Ukraine, shearing branches from trees, scooping out craters, blowing up six houses and killing one Ukrainian soldier.

It was an all-too-common response to the smallest of provocations — a dispute over grocery shopping for a hundred or so people living in the buffer zone between the separatists and Ukrainian government forces. But in the hair-trigger state of the Ukraine war, minor episodes can grow into full-fledged battles.

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