Days after the Russians invaded Ukraine, they descended upon the small town of Bucha, just west of the capital, Kyiv. For weeks the battle ensued in the town until the Russian forces withdrew on March 31, 2022. The Russians were under command of Gennady Bayur, commander of the VDV’s 234th Air Assault Regiment. Like many other commanders in this war, he died just days later in Bucha on March 11, 2022. The Russian digital sphere said he died of a land mine, but we may never know.
In the city days after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Bucha my friend Andriy and I went to document the damage, to listen to the stories of the survivors and to connect with the teams that were doing their best to restore the town to some form of normality.
After a full day traveling across Ukraine it was late last night as we approached the outskirts of Kyiv.
As we approached the city, the lush terrain of spring time green we had become used to became a hellish warzone.
It was a day of rain, with a rainbow to finish the day before when Andriy said, “Look over there!” it was a burned out tank. The heat from the burning tank was so intense it scorched the concrete walls of the highway.
We pulled up and jumped out the car to see a war ravaged gas station with two Russian armored personnel carriers (APCs) sitting just behind. What had been a nice little hotel across the street was now just ruins.