IRPIN – Until two months ago, Irpin was a city full of life. It is now a ghost town even as Ukrainian forces retook the city. The occupation may be over, but nothing is the same. The effects of the Russian war machine remain everywhere.
Police had blocked the entrance for security reasons. When we mentioned that we were journalists – and especially from the United States – they became more conciliatory. Nevertheless, the message was clear: “Pass at your own risk!” After all, the city was mined and the danger to passers-by was real.
The picture inside Irpin was heartbreaking: Damaged houses, crumbling roads, power cables on the ground, and utter desolation. Some old dogs were trying to find food and water.
On the way, we saw two elderly people. Unlike a large part of the population, they chose not to leave their homes.
“I am 90 years old. I thought, what is the reason for me to leave? If it’s to die, let’s die here,” one of them told The National Herald. He has experienced the horror of war and it cannot be imagined that two peoples with so much in common come face to face on the battlefield.
“I saw two Russians on a Russian army tank. These kids must have been around 20 years old. I shouted to them ‘do not get your hands dirty, we are brothers. You are 20-year-old children,’” he said with emotion.
The journey continues. The setting is reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie. The fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces was fierce. However, one of the issues that will emerge in the near future is the brutality against civilians. According to descriptions, the Russian army showed no mercy. A resident of Irpin, who also did not leave the city, revealed to TNH that he saw with his own eyes a Russian soldier killing innocent civilians. In fact, in an emotional outburst, he described him as an “ork,” referring to the mythological humanoid creature from The Lord of the Rings. Reality, of course, is beyond imagination.
It is recalled that Irpin is a suburb northwest of Kyiv, which resisted the Russian invasion with all its might, preventing the passage of Russian troops by any means and fierce battle. The Russian army may have failed to complete the invasion of Irpin, yet this beautiful city will suffer from these wounds for a long time. The human toll, the lives lost in the paranoia of war, damaged infrastructure – it is unknown when and how it will be restored, in a country that is still shaking – lost property, and the fear that lingers in the atmosphere of what might happen in the future is equally ominous.
At present, Russian troops have withdrawn from the outskirts of the capital. Everyone wishes it was the beginning of the end of the nightmare for this troubled country, yet images like those of Irpin will never be forgotten.