Under Fire Kyiv is still making its first casualties

Under Fire Kyiv is still making its first casualties


Cruise missiles had just landed in Kyiv when Tetyana Telyzhenko buried the mutilated body of her tortured son in the capital’s traumatized Bucha suburb.

Tuesday’s attacks appeared to target Ukrainian power plants that Russian-guided suicide drones failed to reach the previous day.

But the body of Tetyana’s 44-year-old son Oleksiy had been missing since his capture in Russia’s failed attack on Kyiv in the first weeks of the war in March.

Tetyana has never seen her son’s body after it was discovered in a random field last month.

Her granddaughter decided it would be too much.

“She wouldn’t let me see his interrogation video either,” the grieving mother said.

“She told me I wouldn’t recognize him after what they did to him.”

The Russians have launched a devastating new air raid on Ukraine’s largest cities after failing to capture them in the first eight months of the war.

– Punitive Air Strike –

This has pierced the euphoric mood that permeated Kyiv after its residents took up arms and pushed back the Russians – at a tremendous cost.

One of these men was Oleksiy.

UN investigators concluded last month that Russian forces had committed “war crimes” in Kiev suburbs such as Bucha and Irpin.

The Ukrainian National Police put the number of civilians executed by invading soldiers or killed by Russian bombs in Bucha and the neighboring city at 1,137.

Oleksiy’s mother said her son is likely to be interrogated by the Russians for his peace work as a top instructor at Ukraine’s SBU Security Service Academy.

He had just signed up with a local volunteer defense unit when he disappeared.

But she has no idea how he died. His body was identified by DNA.

“It must have been so hard for him,” she whispered.

– Tired of asking –

“He had never killed anything in his life. He was so squeamish that he couldn’t even kill the fish he caught in the river.”

The UN investigation into war crimes had helped bring a sense of closure to many who lost loved ones in the first few weeks after the invasion.

Kyiv began rebuilding its suburbs, and families who had fled abroad began to return.

The shift in Russian tactics this month towards long-range strikes aimed at obliterating Ukraine’s critical infrastructure before the approaching winter has brought the war to Kyiv.

The city’s power grid is still intact and the streets fill up with traffic around midday.

But stores are boarding up windows and taking unscheduled breaks to allow employees to get to safety when air raid sirens – which most had begun to ignore – wail at random times.

The rector of Oleksiy’s SBU academy made the air of a man slightly embarrassed at constantly begging for Western military aid as he laid the body of one of his former top students to rest.

“We are very grateful for the help that our international partners were able to provide,” said Andriy Chernyak, rector of the SBU Academy, at the Bucha Cemetery.

– ‘I just hate her’ –

“But everyone must understand that this is not a fight for Ukraine. It is a fight for democracy and peace.”

Oleksiy’s Russian-speaking mother said she now feels nothing but anger and pain.

Her life was intertwined with that of her Russian friends across the border before Kremlin forces invaded on February 24.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war changed all that.

Any attempt by the Kremlin to win over Ukrainian hearts and minds – if that was ever the plan – had had the opposite effect on Tetyana.

“I have many friends in Russia. Now I don’t even know if I should treat them as friends,” she said shortly after the funeral.

“They keep writing to me and saying, ‘We’re not responsible for this’. But I just can’t deal with it. If they support this regime, I just hate them.”

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