As a retired Army Colonel, I’ve served in several combat zones in the midst of war, and seen its ugly aftermath. But never have I witnessed first hand the utter and brutal destruction of peaceful towns and villages as I saw today.
Perhaps this is what hell looks like. Words fail me.
We loaded Pastor Sergei’s van this morning with food and medicine, and made a circuit around Kyiv, visiting several neighborhoods, towns, and villages, making house calls and pastoral visits. We delivered food supplies, diagnosed and treated patients, and replaced meds, while Bob and Sergei counseled and prayed with each family.
A few of the towns we visited have become household names due to their media coverage. Others I’ve not heard of, though they suffered just as much destruction, or more, than the ones covered by the press.
In Irpin, a large town on the edge of Kyiv, about 50% of the homes and apartment buildings were destroyed, while almost all the factories and businesses were in ruins. This is the town that killed many innocent civilians, even women and children, leaving their bodies on the streets for days. One Ukrainian was shot as he rode his bicycle, laying dead for many days, with his image beamed across the globe on every news network.
We visited Bucha, where there was less destruction. But this is the town in which thousands of innocent civilians were executed, women were raped, and hundreds tortured. When the Russians started to retreat, they removed bodies from the streets and dumped them into mass graves in order to cover up the atrocities that may likely lead to charges of war crimes.
In Vablia, literally every house was burned, bombed, or obliterated. Total destruction! There we saw unexploded missiles sticking into roads, and huge bomb craters.
In Borodianka we saw destroyed factories and tall apartment buildings blown to smithereens.
Throughout the area, we came across bridges that had gaping bomb holes that we had to avoid, while others were totally destroyed, requiring us to bypass them on quickly built bypasses. We clambered onto the tops of many destroyed Russian tanks that sat on the roadsides, their twisted and burned wreckage an indication of the loss of life that had occurred. And we drove by miles of trenches that the Ukrainians had dug as a line of defense against the invading Russians.
Most people fled at the start of the invasion, but not all had the means or ability to leave. They stayed in their homes as the Russian soldiers went door to door, harassing and questioning some, but letting them live, while executing others.