There was a fair amount of Russian corpses left behind after the Ukrainian attack on their eastern front.
Kyiv’s army moves too fast and methodically, there is no time to collect enemy corpses.
It is a grim illustration of Ukraine’s current battlefield successes.
As we followed their route through the village of Yampil and reached Torske on the edge of the Luhansk border, we saw a lot of burnt military vehicles and scorched forest trees, which accentuated the fierceness of the battle.
There are repeated indications that the Ukrainians were ambushing their enemies, often seemingly waiting for them and attacking them from the front as the Russians attempted to flee to their defensive positions deeper into Donbas.
Currently Ukrainians have the city of Kremina. Capturing it would open the gate for them to Luhansk and the entire region, and make them ready to take back the two cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
The road from Torske to Kremina was filled with bombed car wrecks.
We saw Ukrainian soldiers loaded with ammunition and bags on their way into Luhansk for more battles.
“Everything will Ukraine‘, one of them shouted after us with cheerful reassurance. Do you hear? ‘ another called, gesturing above us.
There’s a continuous background of artillery shelling, Grad missile firing, and at one stage we hear a jet in the air, followed by the terrible thunder of bombs falling in the direction of Kremina.
“They’re going to drop more here,” he warned.
The pitted yellow bus we were in nearby had the body of a Russian soldier hanging from the driver’s seat. The bus door was open, and his arm was swinging down the road, as if he had desperately tried to climb out before death took his life.
Black hands with deep stains. His head had a hole in it. Death and war are tragically ugly but at the same time pitiful.
His relatives in Russia may not know of his fate or how he met his end on this wrecked bus at the end of a road full of wreckage.
The stretch of road next to the bus was covered in a blanket of Russian military uniforms and other discarded clothes and belongings. It was a state of turmoil, chaos, filled with panic and fear.
Not far away, a woman named Anna, wrapped in a colorful woolen headscarf, told us about the fierce fighting outside the farmhouse where she lived with her husband. . She had just retired from farming and was probably looking forward to a break from her hard life.
Instead, she told us how a Russian soldier had run into her yard a few days earlier, trying to escape the onslaught.
He wears civilian clothes but has military green weapons and armor. When he was shot down, she couldn’t bear to leave his body in her yard for birds and rats to eat.
She couldn’t stop crying, recounting what happened. It was still very fresh and raw to her. She and her husband dragged the body to the field behind the house and dug a grave, on which was placed a blue robe.
The documents they found about him showed that he was 30 years old and from Moscow.
“He’s the first soldier I’ve ever seen dead,” she told us between sobs.
“I feel nothing, nothing. He came to kill us.” But her voice died down as she cried enviously.
The pain of this war has not yet stripped Anna of her basic humanity. He was about the same age as her stepson. Another young man dies in a war he never chose to join.
The bullets that kept landing close made her flinch. “It’s very scary. It’s very, very, scary,” she said. “When the houses were on fire, it was terrifying.
In the midst of terror
“This house burned right here.” She nodded towards her neighbor’s house.
We asked if she wanted to go to her shelter to hide a bit and feel safer.
“Can I go? Can I?” Even with all this death and torment, she was politely polite to strangers.
She hugged our Ukrainian colleague Artem, who was the same age as the dead Russian soldier. He was a warm, friendly face to her in the midst of this horror.
And all the political discussion going on is worse – an impending tactical nuclear attack. It’s a threat US President Joe Biden seems to be taking it seriously, and the Ukrainian army we talked to seems to be getting ready.
“We’re not afraid of anything anymore,” a soldier calling himself Lynx told us. “We know what we’re fighting for – we’re fighting for our land.
“We are not afraid of nuclear or chemical weapons. We have started, and we will not stop until we have liberated all of our land.”
‘Mentally, I’m ready to die’
The rest of his unit perched atop their armored personnel carriers were also undeterred by the nuclear threat.
“Mentally, I’m ready to die,” said Oleksander, “so if it (a nuclear attack) happens, it will.”
When you prepare to sacrifice your life in a war, it seems that the manner of that death takes on a very different meaning.
We traveled with the group through an increasingly boggy forest with muddy puddles everywhere.
The seasons change rapidly, and the upcoming inclement weather is what Ukrainians are trying to overcome.
Only military vehicles can easily traverse the terrain so taxation, and deteriorating conditions will challenge even these vehicles.
The Ukrainians are in a race against winter as well as a fierce battle with the Russian army – and they can’t afford to lose either.