War in Ukraine: in the streets of Irpin, after the Russian bombs, the apocalypse and the desolation

War between Ukraine and Russiacase

Destroyed by Russian bombing, the wealthy suburb of Irpin, a few kilometers from Kyiv, is unrecognizable. Bodies litter the streets, buildings are demolished. But the inhabitants regain control of their city.

By hastily withdrawing from Kyiv and its surroundings, the Russian troops left behind only misery and desolation. For the first time in a month, the bombardments have stopped on Irpin, this chic suburb of the Ukrainian capital. Prohibited to journalists for three weeks after the death of an American journalist, but reopened on Friday, the city is unrecognizable. Almost all the buildings were destroyed, the shelling blew up huge pieces of buildings. “Every 20 to 30 seconds we heard mortar fire. And so on all day. Just destruction”says a resident. “There was a crazy rumble, the sound of vehicles, everything was shaking. And then it was shell after shell”, recalls another resident. Local authorities say at least 200 civilians were killed here.

Orchestrated by Moscow, the devastation of Irpin demonstrates the strength with which the city resisted the Russian invasion, blocking the way to the advance of enemy troops towards Kyiv, some twenty kilometers away. Now wasteland “denazified” by Moscow, Irpin was still a well-served suburb in mid-February in a pine forest on the northwestern outskirts of the capital. Once verdant, the parks are now strewn with corpses, the streets empty, the windshields of cars broken. “It’s the apocalypse”summarizes a Ukrainian soldier.

From the first days of the Russian invasion, Irpin embodied the horrors of war. Images of a family annihilated by a shell as they tried to flee and thousands of people sheltering under a destroyed bridge had been seen around the world.

The last survivors of the ruins of Irpin have only one word to describe the defeated Russian soldiers after one of the crucial battles of the war in Ukraine: “fascists”. All bear witness to the horrors that their city has suffered. “We hid in the basementsays a resident. They fired Grad rockets, mortars and tank shells. My wife and I came under mortar fire twice. But that’s okay, we’re alive and healthy.”he relativizes. “As soon as we heard a shot, we immediately took refuge in our burrows”, says another resident. Oksana shows a huge hole in her kitchen, probably caused by a Russian shell. Also, a tank backed onto his garden wall, causing it to collapse.

“The war is not over”

If the city is again under Ukrainian control, the rescuers still recover the dead to place them in body bags, before taking them to the exploded bridge which connects the city to Kyiv. A bridge covered with dozens of burned, bullet-riddled and abandoned cars, which rescuers are trying to clear.

Russia also deplores heavy losses at Irpin. At least three charred bodies of Russian soldiers lay under the debris of a convoy of eight tanks and armored vehicles on Saturday. A severed leg was seen next to a vehicle. Russian military uniforms and personal belongings were strewn on the ground, including a Russian translation of Briton Edward Gibbon’s essay: “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”.

The civilians, on the other hand, put Ukraine’s success in this battle into perspective. “We won back Irpin, we won back a lot of things, but the war is not over,” drop a resident. If the Russian withdrawal seems to be accelerating in the North, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indeed affirms that Moscow is preparing to launch an assault in the East and South of the country.

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