Bloodstained clothes, shoes (mercifully absent dismembered feet), bits of plumbing, a PJ Mask stuffie, a car seat, and dozens of books and papers. I found a certificate of an eighth-grader, Yulia Lapai, for first place at the All-Ukrainian Olympiad for the English language at her school.
What took place in Bucha, Irpin and the areas under Russian occupation was not an aberration: It was part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s premeditated plan to systematically punish, subjugate and slaughter Ukraine’s population into compliance.
“If you go forward, you will all die here. We are waiting for you. Is it clear? Personally, I have tons of friends, relatives in Belarus, and I don't want us to fight with Belarusians.”
The body of a man lies on the ground, his face turned toward the concrete. The bicycle he was riding before he died lies mangled behind him, his cellphone out of his pocket. As the living work their way down toward the river crossing with its strong currents in freezing conditions, there is simply no time to deal with the dead.
One of the volunteers, a bearded and cheerful young man who called himself Bundes and mostly wanted to talk to me about third century medieval Ukrainian history, said he was happy to see British-supplied weapons delivered to his comrades. “This is the best kind of support,” he says, “one you can feel with your hands.”
Putin has not achieved his goals and is probably very frustrated about it. The motivation of Russian troops is low. Meanwhile, motivation is growing among Ukrainian forces and civilians because in the first days of war they have withstood the overwhelming aggressor. But the danger that Putin will bring even larger forces into play is ever-present.
In the truck's cab were also the charred remains of two Russian soldiers. There were unidentifiable meat slabs on the sidewalk and around the road.