Ukrainian authorities take stock of ruins in liberated Lyman

Ukrainian authorities are just beginning to sift through the wreckage of the devastated city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, as they assess the possibility of war crimes and the humanitarian toll.

Only a few buildings in the city of Donetsk survived without damage, as most houses and basic utilities were destroyed. Last week, Moscow illegally claimed the territory as its own, following a “staged” referendum in the area, which was claimed by Russian authorities.

Words such as “Russia,” “USSR,” and “Russian World” are scribbled on surfaces that are filled with bullet holes, serving as graffiti reminders of the four-month presence of Russian soldiers around the walls of the town.

Mark Tkachenko, the communication inspector for the Kramatorsk police district in Donetsk region, stated on Friday that authorities are still searching for the bodies of civilians amidst the attempt to determine the causes of death and destruction.

Tkachenko informed The Associated Press, “If it occurred during the time when the city was under occupation and they sustained wounds from Kalashnikov rifles, then undoubtedly, it constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law. They will examine the timing and circumstances of individuals’ deaths.”

Lyman stated that there may be additional distressing revelations that reveal the extent of the “humanitarian crisis” that exists today. The number of casualties in the city, caused by the Russian forces’ occupation, remains uncertain.

“He stated, ‘A number of individuals perished within their residences, while others perished in public areas, and the remains are presently being dispatched to specialists for analysis. At present, we are in search of burial sites, and it is likely that there exist mass graves.'”

Late last week, as Ukrainian forces pushed to reclaim it, stretches of barrenness left in the wake of fierce combat cluttered the path leading to Lyman, a location that the Russians utilized as a crucial hub for logistics and transportation while they occupied it.

The road was marked with craters from rockets that fell, while numerous vehicles’ burnt and twisted wreckage lined the road, and the fighting greatly damaged the forests surrounding the city.

Tetyana Ignatchenko, the spokeswoman for the regional administration of Donetsk, stated that there was an ongoing effort by the Russian soldiers to make it clear that the bodies of abandoned soldiers during their retreat had completely destroyed the civilian infrastructure of the city.

Ignatchenko stated, “There are many occupiers because there are a large number of them. Criminologists and police are working in the forests and streets to collect them and search for Russian bodies.”

Tkachenko from the Kramatorsk region police stated that a few had detonated, yet without causing any harm, since Russian troops had placed explosives on the corpses of certain deceased comrades, rigged to detonate when Ukrainian officials tried to remove them while departing from Lyman.

Tkachenko stated that numerous civilian inhabitants were killed due to bombardment, while others, primarily elderly individuals, perished during the Russian occupation due to a scarcity of nourishment and medication as Ukrainian authorities entered the urban area.

According to him, the plundering of civilian residences by Russian troops was extensive.

Anatolii Lyman, a 71-year-old resident of the central city square, said that he had heard rumors of prolonged detentions of civilians and the robbery of his daughter’s home, but he also mentioned that generally only soldiers from Russia were left to aid and provide humanitarian assistance.

“No,” he replied. “Am I capable of engaging in a confrontation with them? Can I express my thoughts, and to whom? What can I possibly say, and to whom?,” He inquired. “They trespassed and gained entry into the residence using a crowbar, proceeding to unlawfully take all the necessary belongings and promptly fled while I was attending to the security of my daughter’s house,”.

In the regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Kherson, the freedom of Lyman arrived as the most recent in a sequence of victories by Ukrainian troops as a component of effective counteroffensive maneuvers.

The war commenced on Feb. 24, a move that Western leaders criticized as illegitimate and a dangerous intensification of the conflict, despite Ukraine reclaiming vast amounts of land in the past month. Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified agreements to unlawfully incorporate the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian forces have recently observed the recapture of settlements in the Kharkiv region, where they discovered instances of torture sites and mass graves. These forces have moved back into liberated towns and cities.

In Izium, a liberated city, an AP investigation revealed 10 distinct locations of torture.

Earlier, Ukrainian media reported on the discovery of a mass grave, but authorities wouldn’t confirm or deny its existence, and ongoing investigations indicated that providing additional details wouldn’t be possible.

On Friday, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported that an unspecified quantity of corpses, comprising approximately 200 separate civilian burial sites and a communal burial site, were discovered in Lyman.

On Friday, Tetyana, who did not want to give her last name, wheeled a cart full of squashes towards her house on the outskirts of Lyman, where most houses were damaged from the fighting on the street.

She exclaimed, gesturing towards the former window in her kitchen where a rocket had penetrated the wall; her residence had suffered significant destruction during a Russian assault.

She exclaimed, “I was in my house when I accidentally slipped into the bathroom, and my daughter happened to be in the hallway. It’s truly miraculous that neither of us suffered any fatal injuries.” “The storage shed was completely demolished, and the roof suffered extensive damage, but we managed to fix it. Additionally, the doors were also affected, as you can observe here.”

Tetyana pointed to a pair of green trousers she was wearing, as she found the Russian uniforms hanging on hooks outside her house, laying all her stuff around and said, “I have never destroyed anything to wear so completely.”

Daria Yevheniivna, aged 15, said that she now feels a renewed sense of hope that her city can be salvaged, even though she spent most of her time hiding at home.

She expressed, “All things improved.” “It transformed into a state of tranquility. I no longer hear the sound of gunfire, and I am able to sleep inside the house instead of the cellar. Individuals became more compassionate.”

He expressed his unsuccessful attempts to sway them. He mentioned that a few of his fellow residents solely consumed Russian television, which he claimed had “manipulated their minds,” in the main plaza as Anatolii, who declined to disclose his surname, voiced his grievances.

“He expressed that there were a handful of people who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Russians, but as a Ukrainian, we do not hold a positive view of them.”

He expressed, “Conflict is conflict. This represents an authentic conflict.” “From our perspective, it’s a genuine conflict,” but to them, it’s merely a specialized undertaking. The Russians proclaim that it’s a specialized undertaking.