A landscape of rubble, abandoned tanks, charred buildings and destroyed multi-story complexes along a main street. After the international condemnation for the accumulation of images and testimonies about the horrors in Bucha, the scars left by the Russian withdrawal in Borodianka, a small and quiet city of just over 10,000 inhabitants northwest of kyiv, are beginning to be known.
The New York Times has visited the town and have talked to neighbors that describe the first days of the Russian invasion when Russian planes flew overhead and the explosions followed seconds later. Dozens of people sheltering from the shelling are believed to have died under the rubble.
“We believe that more than 200 people have died, but it is an estimate,” the acting mayor, Georgii Yerko, tells the American media.
The governor of kyiv, Oleksiy Kuleba, released a video on Tuesday in which the destruction of the city can be seen. “It has turned into ruins: houses and infrastructure destroyed, cars burned in the streets. And the worst are the hundreds of civilians killed and hundreds injured.”
“After Bucha, Irpin, Hostómel, we thought we were ready for anything. But Borodianka… This is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. The occupiers wiped the city off the face of the earth,” the regional governor said in a Telegram message on Wednesday.
BBC correspondent has reported that the destruction of Borodianka, located in the axis of advance on the capital, is “the worst” it has seen relative to its size of any of the cities around kyiv, including Irpin and Bucha, which were hotly contested .
At the moment, the extent of what happened in Borodianka during the Russian occupation is unclear, pending the removal of the debris from the bombing.
“There are many people under the rubble,” a woman confirmed to the British chain. Several witnesses have told the BBC that Russian troops prevented attempts to dig up survivors from destroyed buildings, threatening people who wanted to do so at gunpoint.
According to the authorities, rescuers and agents are currently working in the town, with cleaning and demining tasks. Work is also underway to reconnect the power supply.
Many people left Borodianka when the invasion began on February 24. In a video posted by Guardianneighbors express their anger and desperation after seeing their houses reduced to rubble, days after the Ukrainian Army retook the city.
“I don’t know what exactly happened to that house,” says one of the interviewed residents, pointing to a vandalized building. “But there are people under the rubble there. I think a catastrophe happened there.”
The governor of kyiv said on Wednesday that Borodianka “is another symbol of the atrocities of the Russian occupiers.” In a speech denouncing the murder and torture of civilians in Bucha, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there were reports “that the number of victims of the occupiers may be even higher in Borodianka and some other liberated cities.” .
“In many villages in the liberated districts of the kyiv regions,” Zelensky said, “the occupiers did things that the locals had not seen even during the Nazi occupation 80 years ago.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba also said the evidence of Bucha’s killings of civilians is just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Since Russian troops withdrew from towns and villages around the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, Ukrainian authorities have displayed the bodies of what they say are civilians killed by Russian forces, as well as destroyed houses and burned cars. Ukraine has said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around the capital that were recaptured by Ukrainian forces. Russia has denied the allegations.