The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Unspeakable Atrocities in Ukraine

Posted on | April 6, 2022 | Comments Off on Unspeakable Atrocities in Ukraine

In the days immediately after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, I was desperately seeking information on the tactical situation near Kyiv, but it was impossible to gather anything useful from the news accounts. Most journalists seem to know nothing about military tactics or strategy, and so the reports we were getting were mostly useless, if what you were trying to figure out was whether the Russians were succeeding in their (obvious) goal of encircling and capturing Ukraine’s capital.

The fight for control of the air field at Hostomel was clearly urgent. If Russian paratroopers could secure that as a base to fly in reinforcements, Kyiv was almost certainly doomed. By Saturday morning, Feb. 26, it was apparent that Kyiv was still hanging on, even while the fighting raged around the airport at Hostomel, about 15 miles away. What I didn’t know at the time — because the reporting from Ukraine was so foggy — was that Russian mechanized columns were driving southward, from Borodyanka through Makariv, to cut the main E40 highway about 25 miles west of Kyiv. From there, the Russians could either turn east, toward the capital, or else continue pushing south to strike the P04 highway at Yasnohorodka. About midway between Makariv and Yasnohorodka sits the village of Motyzhyn. There is nothing at all “strategic” about Motyzhyn, a village of about 1,000 people, except that it sits on a road, known locally as Vulytsya Shevchenka (Shevchenko’s Street), that connects the E40 highway to the P04 highway. If the Russians coming down from Makariv were aiming to encircle Kyiv, or if the Ukrainian defenders had blocked the E40 to prevent the invaders from advancing on the city from the west, then this route down Vulytsya Shevchenka through Motyzhyn would be an obvious way to go.

All of that is preamble to this terrible story:

MOTYZHYN, Ukraine—Mayor Olha Sukhenko took care of her village like a family for more than a decade, locals say, sprucing up public buildings, organizing concerts and settling disputes.
When the Russian army withdrew last week after a monthlong occupation, her neighbors found Ms. Sukhenko’s lifeless body in a shallow grave, her hands bound. Her husband and son lay next to her, dead.
Olha, Ihor and Oleksandr Sukhenko are but three of the faces of the brutal aftermath of Russia’s occupation that Ukrainian officials and villagers say left civilians dead on the street and buried under thin layers of dirt before fierce resistance drove them out.
The 50-year-old mayor held together her central Ukrainian village, cut off and near the fighting at the front. She delivered food and medicine. And she helped the resistance, part of an undercover effort to send Russian troop positions and movements to her country’s military, Ukrainian officials and others involved say.
“She was the best person until her last minute,” said Mykola Kurach, the head of the village’s volunteer defense forces who led the reconnaissance effort.
Residents say the Russian aggression against locals surged as the Russians came under attacks from Ukrainian artillery and ambush teams. The Russians shot two women while hunting for Ukrainian agents, they say. The body of another man, a security guard from the local cottage compound, was found dumped down a well. . . .
The war came quickly to Motyzhyn, a village of some 1,000 people just off the main highway about 25 miles west of Kyiv. On Feb. 27, three days after Russia invaded, more than 100 Russian army vehicles swept through the quiet, single-lane streets.
“There are foreign bastards in our village,” Ms. Sukhenko posted on her Facebook page on the day they arrived. “Take care. Don’t leave your homes. Keep calm.”
The Russians set up a headquarters at a farm on the northeast edge of the village, digging trenches in the nearby forest where locals hunt for wild mushrooms. . . .
The Russians had dug in on the edge of town in the forest with a network of trenches. . . .
“They were planning to be here for some time,” said Ivan Rudyak, the commander of the territorial-defense unit in a nearby village who is in charge of restoring order in Motyzhyn.
But the assault on Kyiv wasn’t going well. An initial lightning thrust had been repelled. Ukrainian forces had blown bridges and were preventing them from crossing. Attempts to surround the city were proving difficult. One attempt by Russian armored vehicles to break south of Motyzhyn failed, with at least one tank destroyed. Ukrainian artillery shelled Russian positions in the forest on the edge of Motyzhyn.
On March 18, a Ukrainian ambush team sneaked into the village and destroyed a Russian armored vehicle and truck with antitank weapons. The Russians responded with fury. The next day, they launched what they called a clearance operation through the village in search of Ukrainian agents. . . .

You can read the rest of that. It would appear, based on this account, that Motyzhyn was perhaps the southernmost advance of the Russian force that came south out of Belarus via Borodyanka. The atrocities inflicted on the villagers at Motyzhyn seem to have been typical of the brutality that Russian troops practiced everywhere in Ukraine.

Now, let me ask: If you were Volodymyr Zelenskyy, would you be willing to cede anything in negotiations with the Russians who had done this to your people? Or would you rally your people to fight until there was not a single invader left alive to return to Russia? Whatever the cost, cut off their retreat, surround them and kill every one of them — no quarter.

By God, I know that’s what I’d do. The Russian invaders in Ukraine have effectively signed their own death warrants, as far as I’m concerned.




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