Six months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and with no finish to the battle in sight, The Related Press revisited Danyk in addition to a police officer and an Orthodox priest whose lives have been upended by struggle.
“I WANT TO BE AN AIR FORCE PILOT”
Tears come to Danyk’s eyes as his mom, Luda, remembers being pulled from the rubble, coated in blood, after shrapnel tore via her physique and smashed her proper foot.
Twenty-two weeks after she was wounded, she’s nonetheless ready to have her foot amputated and to be fitted with a prosthetic. She retains the piece of shrapnel surgeons eliminated throughout certainly one of her many operations.
Danyk lives along with his mom and grandmother in a home close to Chernihiv, a city 140 kilometers (almost 90 miles) north of Kyiv, the place a bit of tarp covers the damaged bed room home windows. He sells milk from the household’s cow that grazes within the close by fields. A handwritten signal wrapped in clear plastic on the entrance gate reads: “Please purchase milk to assist my mom who’s injured.”
“My mom wants surgical procedure and that’s why I’ve to assist her. I’ve to assist my grandmother too as a result of she has coronary heart issues,” Danyk stated.
Earlier than colleges reopen on Sept. 1, Danyk and his grandmother have been becoming a member of volunteers a number of days every week clearing the particles from buildings broken and destroyed within the Russian bombardment outdoors Chernihiv. On the best way, he stops at his outdated home, most of it smashed to the foundations.
“This was my bed room,” he says, standing subsequent to scorched mattress springs that protrude from the rubble of bricks and plaster.
Well mannered and gentle spoken, Danyk says his father and stepfather are each preventing within the Ukrainian military.
“My father is a soldier, my uncles are troopers and my grandfather was a soldier, too. My stepfather is a soldier and I can be a soldier,” he says with a glance of dedication. “I need to be an air pressure pilot.”
“THIS BRIDGE WAS THE ROAD FROM HELL”
Earlier than the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv and surrounding areas on April 2, suburbs and cities close to town’s airport have been pounded by rockets, artillery hearth and aerial bombardment in an effort to interrupt the Ukrainian defenses.
Complete metropolis blocks of flats have been blackened by the shelling in Irpin, simply 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the capital, alongside a route the place police Lt. Ruslan Huseinov patrolled every day.
A few of the most dramatic scenes from the early phases of the struggle have been of the evacuation from Irpin beneath a destroyed freeway bridge, the place 1000’s escaped the relentless assaults.
Huseinov was there for 16 days, organizing crossings the place the aged have been carried alongside muddy pathways in wheelbarrows.
Reconstruction work has begun on the bridge, the place mangled concrete and iron bars grasp over the river. Clothes and footwear from those that fled can nonetheless be seen tangled within the particles.
“This bridge was the street from hell,” says Huseinov, 34, standing subsequent to an overturned white van nonetheless lodged right into a slab of smashed concrete.
“We acquired individuals out of (Irpin) as a result of circumstances have been horrible — with bombing and shelling,” he stated. “Folks have been actually scared as a result of many misplaced their kids, members of their household, their brothers and sisters.”
Crosses constituted of building wooden are nonetheless nailed to the railings of the bridge to honor these misplaced and the hassle to avoid wasting civilians.
“The entire world witnessed our solidarity,” says Huseinov, who grew up in Germany and says he would by no means once more take the nice issues in life without any consideration.
“In my thoughts, every part has modified: My values in life,” he stated. “Now I perceive what we’ve to lose.”
“BEFORE THE WAR, IT WAS ANOTHER LIFE”
The ground of the Church of Andrew the Apostle has been re-tiled and bullet holes within the partitions plastered over and repainted — however the horror of what occurred in March lies just a few yards away.
The biggest mass grave in Bucha — a city outdoors Kyiv that has turn into synonymous with the brutality of the Russian assault — is behind the church.
“This grave contained 116 individuals, together with 30 girls, and two kids,” stated Father Andriy, who has performed a number of burial providers for civilians discovered shot useless or killed by shelling, some nonetheless solely recognized as a quantity whereas the hassle to call all of Bucha’s victims continues.
Lots of the our bodies have been discovered earlier than the Russians pulled out of the Kyiv area, Father Andriy stated.
“We couldn’t bury individuals within the cemetery as a result of it’s on the outskirts of town. They left individuals, useless individuals, mendacity on the street. Useless individuals have been discovered nonetheless of their vehicles. They have been making an attempt to depart however the Russians shelled them,” stated Father Andriy, sporting a big cross round his neck and a darkish purple cassock.
“That state of affairs lasted two weeks, and the native authorities started developing with options (to assist) family members and family members. It was dangerous climate and wild animals have been discovering the our bodies. So one thing needed to be finished.”
He determined to hold out burial providers within the church yard, many subsequent to the place the our bodies had been found.
The expertise , he stated, has left individuals within the city badly shaken.
“I believe that, neither myself or anybody who lives in Ukraine, who witnessed the struggle, can perceive why this occurred,” he stated.
“Earlier than the struggle, it was one other life.”
“For now we’re surviving on adrenaline,” he stated. “However I’m anxious that the aftermath will final many years. It is going to be laborious to get previous this and switch the web page. Saying the phrase ‘forgive’ isn’t troublesome. However to say it out of your coronary heart — for now , that’s not attainable.”
Full protection of the struggle in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
AP staffers Vasilisa Stepanenko and Roman Hrytsyna contributed.