Russian bodies and smashed vehicles mark Moscow’s loss of Ukrainian city


LYMAN, Ukraine, October 5 (Reuters) – The bodies of two Russian soldiers lay swollen in trees on opposite sides of the road, near the wrecked carcasses of cars and the van in which Ukrainian army officers said the dead men’s unit was retreating to the eastern town of Lyman.

Unaware that their forces had already withdrawn from the key railway junction, the Russians were ambushed by Ukrainian special forces last weekend, their escape and their lives ended in a storm of gunfire, the authorities said. officers.

Bodies, wrecked vehicles and carpets of bullets, torn uniforms and shards of metal bore witness on Wednesday to Moscow’s loss of Lyman in a Ukrainian counteroffensive that reclaimed parts of overrun Donestk province by Russian forces earlier this year.

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Armored vehicles, trucks and cars carrying Ukrainian troops or laden with supplies drove past the ambush site towards the front lines, their occupants craned their necks to view the scene.

Occasional crumbs echoed from distant fighting between retreating Russians and Ukrainian troops advancing towards a highway leading north to the Russian border and south to the town of Sievierodonetsk from where Kyiv forces withdrew in June.

Lyman Police Chief Igor Ugnivenko told reporters in the destroyed center of Lyman that around 7,000 people – out of a pre-war population of around 22,000 – remained in the town in which his officers began to return on Saturday.

“We have to clear the place of all (Russian) weapons left inside the houses,” he said.

Police have evidence, Ugnivenko said, that the Russians beat and abused civilians while they occupied Lyman. He declined to provide further details, saying an investigation was ongoing.

“We know there was torture. We still have our work to do,” he said, standing in front of a police store full of furniture he accused the Russians of looting and eventually planned to take with them to Russia.

Reuters could not confirm his accusations. Russia denies torture or other forms of ill-treatment of prisoners of war. Moscow says its forces in Ukraine are engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm the country.

His allegations contrasted with comments from several residents queuing behind two vans, waiting for humanitarian aid in front of the municipal building.

“The Russians didn’t touch us. They didn’t even touch us,” said Nina, 73, who, like many residents, refused to give her last name.

She insisted that violence only came to Lyman with the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“The first time Ukraine came, everything flew through the air, even houses and people. A lot of people were killed right away,” she said.

The bodies of 15 Russians still lay in her street, Nina said.

“The Russian guys are lying dead, 15 of them, in Odesskaya Street. Nobody touches them,” she growled. Nobody deletes them. It is the fifth day that they are lying there. And we have the smell. Is it correct?”

“They came as a team and their guys just left them,” said Viktor Trofimenko, 78, who was standing next to her.

“NOTHING IS LEFT”

Volodymyr Yurevych, 26, rode his bicycle in the square outside the municipal building, the first time he said he had left his home in six weeks. He had nothing nice to say about the former Russian occupants of the city.

“I rode my bike and saw so many things that I can’t describe. I had no contact with them,” he said. “I didn’t even take their humanitarian aid. It was enough for me to see that they behaved like animals on the first day. And that made me reject them immediately.

Countless houses lining the town’s rutted roads have been destroyed or damaged by the recent fighting.

Nina worried about the future.

” We have nothing. Nothing is left. Everything is destroyed. I worked for 41 years. Is it for me to be in this queue, jostling with other people,” she said. There is no bread. Nobody gives us money. How can this situation be?

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Reporting by Jonathan Landay Editing by Alistair Bell

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