A large plume of smoke rises over a logistics zone in Chaiky, on the outskirts of kyiv. At mid-morning on Thursday, just as the second month of war begins in the former Soviet republic, intense detonations are heard at the scene. Some of the Ukrainian soldiers who guard the area a few meters from a fire station are unnerved by the situation. In the front line of combat, a few kilometers from here, the strategy of the local Army continues to be to hit the Russian logistics supply columns and try to surround their troops once they are short of supplies, a military spokesman in kyiv optimistically explains to this newspaper. He estimates that the Kremlin has deployed some 19,000 men in the northwest of the Ukrainian capital, the main military and political target of Russian President Vladimir Putin since he ordered the invasion.
A handful of neighbors from the houses closest to the range hit by the projectiles stop for just a few seconds while the sun is at times eclipsed by the smoke. They immediately continue with his life, like a man who does not hide that he stays in his house with his wife, his children and his grandchildren. It is not the first day that the continuous banging is the soundtrack in these streets of Petropavlivska Borschahivka, the town to which they belong. A privileged witness to the fighting is the Orthodox church erected in honor of the birth of the Virgin Mary.
The ground forces commanded by General Oleksandr Sirskii have spent days not only preventing the advance of the Russians on the outskirts of kyiv, but their intention is to surround the area where they are stuck in the disputed towns of Irpin, Gostomel, Bucha and Makariv with serious logistical problems, details Volodímir Fitio, one of the Army spokesmen. The strategy is to cut off the flow of support to the Russians from the rear in the form of fuel, ammunition or food to the front line.
The aforementioned are strategic enclaves that Russia wanted to take from the beginning as a spearhead to put its men in the center of the capital. The Kremlin’s tanks arrived here very early, just a couple of days after the Putin-ordered invasion, but what then seemed like rapid and nearly unstoppable progress has stalled.
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The Russian Army “has lost the potential to attack, its moral and psychological state is low. All they can do now is loot, steal everything they can, destroy everything they touch,” says Fitio, who estimates that there are some 16,000 Russian soldiers in the northwest region of kyiv, to which must be added about 3,000 more dedicated to air defense and logistics. “The Ukrainian Armed Forces are trying to drive the enemy out of these cities and their surroundings and carry out a clean-up,” and “in the event that the enemy decides to attack kyiv, it will be stopped and eliminated.” “For now we are trying to push them back,” he adds.
Ukraine is receiving aid from abroad both in terms of troops and weapons, but the authorities prefer that these details remain far from the media spotlight. “We thank friendly countries for providing much-needed aid. But there is no need to talk about it,” Oleksandr Motuzianik, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, commented in a public appearance in kyiv on Thursday.
In Irpin, Bucha or Gostomel there are still clashes these days, acknowledge Ukrainian military sources. They do not want to refer, however, to the casualties that local troops are suffering, but they speak of thousands of Russians scattered on the battlefield whose bodies are not being collected.
“We need the world to see how many bodies of Russian soldiers are lying in the fields and that no one wants to pick them up,” says the military spokesman, who even refers to “an ecological catastrophe”, especially in the Sumy region, where no remove none. “The Russian side is not interested in collecting the bodies so that the real number of the dead is not known and the Ukrainian side is forced to make mass graves”, but “it is not always possible, because it cannot be done in the areas of combat, nor is it possible to do so in the territories occupied by Russian troops.
Last Monday the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, a medium related to the Kremlin, published for a few minutes that so far 9,861 Russian soldiers had lost their lives in the war in Ukraine and 16,153 had been wounded. The authorities have not denied these figures, while the tabloid management assures that the interface of its website was hacked that day and someone manipulated the piece with “inaccurate information”. So far, Moscow has only officially reported 498 dead and 1,597 wounded in its ranks on March 2.
Volodímir Fitio calls for “international support and from NATO member countries with weapons” and also: “We need all international businesses that have not yet left Russia to leave the country and not pay taxes that finance the Russian Armed Forces and this war ”. The military spokesman believes that if Ukraine falls, Putin will put other European countries in his sights. “And it won’t just be Poland, it will go to Germany and even further,” he predicts.
Meanwhile, in the streets of Petropavlivska Borschahivka, under the column of smoke, the members of the civil defense corps control the circulation and transit of people in the surroundings of the attacked industrial area. One of them, Sasha, goes with a backpack on his back and looks for transportation to the center of kyiv. Like many others, he has his wife and two children in the west of the country and, after this month of war with the civil defense, he has decided to make the leap to the Army. The drone of missiles that break the sky make the reporter curse while looking up to the laughter of those present, who are more than used to it. “Nothing’s wrong,” they reassure.
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