The charred remains of two Russian tanks and several armoured personnel carrier, as well as several turrets, attest to the brutality of last week’s fighting in Lukyanivka village, just outside Kyiv, are evidence of the violence. A field near the Russian soldier contains the charred remains of a soldier.
Valeriy Hudym, a local resident, said that mortars were so strong it was frightening even in the cellar. This is two days after Ukrainian soldiers retook control of Lukyanivka following a five-hour battle against the Russians.
“Tanks were firing artillery and machine guns. Hudym stated that everything was possible. Two Ukrainian soldiers were involved in the fight to retake the village. They said that the fighting was intense. Over a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, heavy clashes have erupted in defense of Kyiv’s capital.
These towns and villages are often overlooked in histories, but they are the places where Russian advances have been stopped, sometimes by mobile Ukrainian units equipped with anti-tank weapons imported from abroad.
Moscow said Tuesday at the Istanbul peace talks that it would dramatically reduce operations around Kyiv in order to facilitate dialogue.
Residents of Lukyanivka (two hours drive from Kyiv) recall calling for the evacuation of Russian troops who had occupied them.
“I have a neighbor called Svitlana. She spoke out to them directly: “Guys, go home.” Hudym stated, “You will be killed here.”
In the areas surrounding the capital’s northern half, the reverse has occurred. Ukrainian troops reclaimed territory in small battles after losing it in the first month. However, they did not win a decisive victory.
A request by the Russian defense ministry for comment about the military situation in Kyiv was not immediately answered.
However, the victories were a psychological blow to an even more powerful enemy. They have shown that nimble units with a good understanding of the area can defend lines or push them back.
Experts also stated that they serve strategic purposes – to keep Russian artillery farther from the city center and to prevent the invading armies from encircling Kyiv.
As Russian ground advances stalled, heavy bombardment has been sustained in cities like Kharkiv or Mariupol. This is part of what Pentagon and other Western military officials call Russian frustration at the lackluster progress.
According to the city authorities, Kyiv was also hit by missiles and shells. At least 264 civilians were killed. Witnesses say that the devastation to the city’s centre is much smaller.
Russia refers to its actions in Ukraine under the heading of a “special operation” that aims to demilitarize its neighbor. It denied that it was targeting civilians.
“We drove out the Russians. The Russians are being moved a few kilometers away,” Marat Saifulin of the Ukrainian “Brotherhood battalion,” who participated in the retaking the village during an attack that lasted between noon and dusk.
William Burns, Director of the CIA, stated in March that Russian President Vladimir Putin intended to seize Kyiv within two working days after the invasion began on February 24.
Russian officials and Putin have repeatedly stated that Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine went according to plan.
Two early setbacks indicated that it wouldn’t be easy for a Russian force of around 190,000. Some diplomats had estimated this number before the war. Russia has not yet provided a number for the deployment of its troops in Ukraine.
Russian paratroopers attacked Hostomel Airport, a possible bridgehead northwest from Kyiv on the first day. According to the Wall Street Journal, heavy fighting in the area slowed down the Russian advance towards the capital.
Satellite imagery also captured a massive column of military hardware that stretched 40 miles (64km) and came from the same direction.
Some Western defense officials considered it a major threat to Kyiv during the initial days of war. However, the group had mostly dispersed by March 10, with some vehicles moving into nearby towns.
In March, a senior U.S. defense official stated that Russia’s march on Kyiv, which included the convoy, seemed to be stalled due to logistical issues including a lack of fuel and food, as well low morale among certain units.
Small units of Ukrainian troops attacked advancing tanks columns with anti-tank weapons, some using the U.S.-made Javelin systems. This was another factor in Russia’s military collapse.
A convoy of Russian tanks were repelled in Brovary to the east after they were all destroyed during an ambush that was captured by pro-Ukrainian forces.
The town’s mayor, Bucha, was filmed scenes of destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles, despite being under intense attack.
As a means of stopping the enemy’s advance, Ukrainian forces destroyed an important bridge connecting northwestern cities to Kyiv in Irpin. Irpin’s mayor claimed that Ukraine had regained full control on Monday.
There have been no significant advances against Kyiv as a result of the Russian weaknesses and flexible defense strategy.
There are signs that normal life is returning to the streets of the city, even though only half of the 3.4 million people who lived in peacetime remain. Some shops, restaurants, and cinemas have opened, and people are enjoying the sunshine in the parks.
The head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff fueled hopes that the capital’s immediate threat may be diminishing last week.
He stated that the first phase in Ukraine’s operation had been completed in large part and that Russian forces would now concentrate on the Donbass in the east.
This seemed to confirm Western intelligence that the Russian forces had abandoned their active attempt at taking Kyiv after heavy losses and stubborn Ukrainian defenses.
Many roads that lead to Kyiv are littered with debris and wrecked homes. Gas and electricity are often cut, and it is not known when or where the next missile will fall.
Hanna Yevdokimova, 92, said that the invasion was her third conflict, after the Soviet-Finnish Winter War (1939-1940) and World War Two when she witnessed German troops pass through Krasylivka.
Her home was destroyed by missiles last week. In a neighbor’s backyard, a twisted fragment from a Russian Kalibr missile lay 100m (328 ft).
“What can you do?” She said that all she wants is to rebuild her home so that she can die at home.
Residents of Lukyanivka claimed that they were held as virtual prisoners for nearly a month by Russia under Russian occupation. Their mobile phones were confiscated, and movement was restricted to armed escort.
They can now leave and come as they like in badly damaged homes.
Last week, heavy shelling was heard near Makariv west Kyiv. The area is still in dispute. Vadym Tokar, the mayor of the town, travelled through the villages in military fatigues and distributed pensions to the old.
Vasyl Chaylo from Peremoha described Russian conscripts he was afraid of, lacking rations and being disciplined by professional fighters.
They are afraid. He said that some of them may not want to fight, and they want to surrender. However, special forces keep them in line.
Chaylo said that he had also asked tank crews set up outside Chaylo’s house how long they would keep dry rations. They were told it was a week. “They came to our house on the eighth day, and they said that they didn’t have anything to eat.”
After earlier denials from the Kremlin, military authorities and Russia’s defense ministry, Russia’s defense ministry has admitted that some conscripts took part in the conflict. The ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on rations.
Halyna Shybka was a former nurse at a military hospital near Kyiv for 25-years. She ignored the pleas of her grandchildren. Instead, she remained with Mykola in Kalynivka where they have been living since 1974.
She said that they tried to convince us to leave in every possible way, but we wanted to stay,” and she began to make tea in her tiny kitchen. The sound of rumbling Ukrainian artillery fires in the background made it clear that she was not happy.
“This is our country, we are not leaving.”