Horrified villagers described fields of corpses, their faces scorched today – as Russia bombed a train station, killing at least 50 other civilians.
Even as northern Kyiv emerged from the rubble of battered communities, news of the latest barbaric bombings to the east spread across Ukraine.
Kramatorsk station, 700 km east of us, was hit by missiles – one bearing the inscription “For what was done to the children”, killing at least 50 people, including five children, and wounding up to 300.
President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of “…lacking strength and courage to confront us on the battlefield and cynically destroying the civilian population”.
The depraved bombardment of Kramatorsk today was matched by the horrors residents revealed in communities north of kyiv.
In the bombed-out village of Andriivka, north of the city of Kyjv, Piotr Kashenko, 66, a father of three, sat by the side of the road amid the devastation.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
This quiet-voiced old man told us, “They rushed into the basements of private homes, spraying them with bullets. It’s incredible.
“They came here and killed a lot of people, especially young men, burning their faces when they were dead, after pouring gasoline on them.
“They had their hands tied, then they were taken out into the fields and shot – then burned so they couldn’t be recognized.”
It seems everyone here knows someone who disappeared in this field, where at least 48 young men were executed, their faces mutilated with gasoline.
Today, his friend and neighbor Anton, 24, was buried, according to Piotr, but he is confused and exhausted by the nightmare that has befallen his village.
The Russians are gone now, retreating hastily north towards Belarus or east to be redeployed in the disputed Donbass region, where Moscow is preparing a massive offensive.
AFP via Getty Images)
But they left behind a legacy of murder and depravity that is etched in the bullet-scarred walls, the blackened ruins of Ukrainian communities, and the faces of everyone we meet.
A middle-aged lady called Tania, approaches us next to Piotr, shouting that her house was marked “children” but that didn’t stop the Russians.
Still trembling with fear, she tells us: “There were nine of us hiding in the basement and we were trying to keep quiet when the Russians entered my yard.
“They opened the cellar door and a soldier fired down with bullets, one of which hit my daughter’s backpack and scratched her smartphone.
“It was a miracle, we all survived, but it was really terrifying.
“But we had the word ‘kids’ painted on the door so clearly that they don’t care or they just want to kill everyone, who knows?”
A 24-year-old man is recovering in kyiv hospital from a serious gunshot wound to his arm in the basement attack and he was the only person hit.
Seth Sidney Berry/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)
She refused to be photographed because she is terrified that the Russians, who left more than a week ago, are coming back to kill her.
In her garden, she shows us a pit 12 feet deep that she heard the Russians digging, who they shouted to “bury the corpses”.
There is no way of knowing if this was true as it could also have been to hide once from their tanks, even though the area was totally isolated.
Andriivka’s houses are riddled with bullet holes, shell holes and huge blast marks and holes, from unexploded shells lying thrown on the ground by the side of the road.
Ten miles away, the largely destroyed town of Borodyanka appears to have been trampled by a monster that breathes fire at anything in its path.
Entire buildings are smashed in two, reduced to rubble by wave after wave of airstrikes, then tank shells and small arms.
When the marauding Russians arrived in town at the start of the now six-week war, they pulverized almost every house with bullets, leaving up to 200 people in the rubble.
AFP via Getty Images)
Today we saw rescue teams sifting through and digging up several mini ‘earth zeros’, having found 26 bodies the day before.
Some injured survivors have been found, but hope is now fading for those who fled underground and were unlucky enough to be crushed to death or buried alive.
In Borodoyanka, Eugene Yenin, first deputy to Kyiv’s interior minister, was meeting with devastated residents to discuss their future.
Afterwards, he told us: “What you see here and elsewhere in Ukraine is a lot of tears and horror.
“We are here to reassure and support the residents that we are here to help with infrastructure and their future, water, electricity.”
And then he made a startling claim, that Russian soldiers marked the homes of murdered civilians with a Soviet-era code for “corpses.”
He said troops had marked the number “200” on the doors of houses to indicate that “corpses” were inside.
It’s a throwback to Soviet-era Afghanistan when the 200 mark meant one or more corpses were nearby.
When asked if he was talking about “civilian bodies”, he replied: “Yes, civilians.
“That is to say, the Russians tell the other troops ‘we have already visited here.’
He added: “This is a remote village or town, where people are not well off and need help, as you can see.
“About 20 bodies were found yesterday and six more in another building.
“We discover in some places where the Russians have booby-trapped washing machines, with a grenade inside.
“There are the bodies of people who were shot at random.
“It’s a terrible situation but there will be a future here.”
Today hospitals in Kramatorsk were grappling with the number of injured as Ukrainian officials said no servicemen were nearby at the time of the attack.
The governor of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine accused Russian forces of firing cluster munitions at the station, where thousands of people were at the time.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said: “If at first they were aimed exclusively… at the railway tracks, then now it is not only the tracks, but also the firing of a missile containing cluster munitions that is intended to people.
“It is absolute confirmation that this (strike) was intended for civilians.”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia may have committed another war crime and promised to ‘do everything’ to make Vladimir Putin fail in Ukraine and predicted the war would turn against the Russian president.
Mr Wallace, visiting Romania for talks, said: “Aiming civilians and critical infrastructure is a war crime.
“These were precision missiles aimed at people trying to seek humanitarian shelter.”