Russo-Ukrainian War: ‘They treat dead soldiers’ bodies like garbage’ – Europe – International

When their dogs persistently began digging in a spot in the forest, the inhabitants of Zavalevka contacted the authorities.

Soon, a Ukrainian military team arrived at the scene in white protective suits, carefully removing the top layer of soil.

They discovered the corpse of a man, face down and his legs strangely twisted beneath him. His uniform turned out to be a Russian soldier.

Weeks after they failed in their attempt to capture the Ukrainian capital, The remnants of the Russian forces are still to be found in and around the villages they passed through or occupied near the capital, Kyiv. But Ukraine says Russia is showing little interest in getting it back.

From the grave in the forest, the body was transported to a refrigerated train on the outskirts of Kyiv that now serves as a mobile mortuary for the Russian dead.

White plastic bags feature numbers instead of names. At least 137 were stacked inside two cars on the day of our visit.

The Ukrainians are trying to identify the bodies: on the corpse that was just brought, the forensic team found two bank cards, as well as the insignia of a Russian automatic rifle brigade.

“At least this one has a chance to go home,” declared the responsible man, reviewing the finds, including a dirty part of a T-shirt with the emblem of the Russian army printed on it.

Moments later, she confirmed that the man whose body had just been exhumed was a young soldier married to Siberia. Near his body bag, a carefully taken black and white photograph of his social media profile popped up from my phone.

Empty promise?

Russia has a slogan that they proudly flaunt: “We never give up on our motto.” It was largely an important part of President Vladimir Putin’s alleged justification for the invasion of Ukraine, Because he falsely claimed that Russian speakers need protection.

This promise does not appear to apply to Russia’s soldiers as much.

Colonel Volodymyr Liamzin told the BBC: “The corpses we have found show that they treat people like rubbish, like cannon fodder. They don’t need their soldiers. They just throw it here and back off and leave the corpses.”

In fact, we don’t know how the young jungle soldier was abandoned. The villagers of Zavalevka say that at that time they were hiding in cellars from the bombings; They assume he was wounded and lost when his unit was forced to withdraw.

From what we learned about the Russian troops that fought around Kyiv, many of them were young and inexperienced. It is possible that they were fleeing under the fire.

“We had an exchange,” Colonel Lyamzin says, explaining that the Russian side had given a short list of dead soldiers it wanted to return.

“We’re ready to bring them all back, we want to bring our dead back to us too,” the colonel says. “We’re knocking on all doors, but there’s no response, no dialogue.”

The delay in collecting the bodies is not limited to Russia.

Neither side in this war has been transparent about the number of casualties they have suffered. We spoke with several Ukrainian families who said that their government had not helped much in recovering the remains of Ukrainian soldiers from the battlefield.

A woman, recounted by men in her unit about her husband’s death, said she had been trying to recover his body for nearly three months.

But here they constantly find the bodies of dead Russians.

Right on Zavalivka Road in Sitnyaki, the village elder tells us that in March at least 10 Russian soldiers – perhaps more – were killed and their bodies dumped.

He was ambushed after he got lost: locals removed and changed road signs.

The battle was fierce. What was once a roadside restaurant on the site is now a pile of rubble, barely a section of the wall remains standing, and a giant aquarium that somehow survived the attack.

Leaflets found in the rubble call on Russian soldiers to surrender, save their lives, and spare the blood of Ukrainian children.

The village elder says he and others buried the Russians after the battle for “sanitary reasons”. When I look in disbelief, she says most of them have been blown to bits.

He was not allowed to show us the graves: they constitute a crime scene so that Colonel Lyamzin’s team could visit and exhume the remains there. But the list of his fossils is already long.

A local beet-growing man confirms that the Russians have been killed along the main road.

“It is not humane to abandon a soldier, not to bury him,” says Mikola, leaning on her shovel. His son is in the Ukrainian army.

“My wife felt sorry for the Russians at first, but then we found out what they did here,” he adds, referring to the shooting of unarmed civilians in places like Bucha and Irbin.

“After that, no one regretted the Russians,” he says.

Burnt out remains of Russian tanks still line all the main roads to Kyiv. Every few seconds cars stop and families go out to take pictures, and children climb over the top.

Seems kind of healing. One day I saw a man training, raising a tank barrel over his head, as if he was lifting weights.

But later that day, a few steps across the road, we saw a human remains on a burnt patch of ledge: a charred piece of column and a sliver of a foot; And a deathly sweet smell when the wind died down. Most likely it was one of the men killed in one of the nearby tanks.

So the refrigerated train in Kyiv is still full and there are more in other cities close to the fight. There is little sympathy from the Ukrainian army that recovers and stores the bodies: the dead are enemy soldiers and invaders.

But in Russia, someone somewhere has to look for each of them.

Additional reporting by Daria Sibygina and Marianna Matveychuk.

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BBC-NEWS-SRC:, import date: 2022-05-30 10:50:05

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