Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Live Updates

attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

LYSYSHANSK, Ukraine – There is still a mass grave on the edge of this city in eastern Ukraine undiscovered. Earthy mounds and yellow-leaved weeds surround a hole filled with a dozen or so body bags. Smells of death in the warm summer wind.

The dead were civilians killed in shelling in recent months in the cities of Lyschansk and Severodonetsk and the nearby town of Robyzhny. They crowded together because there were no relatives to claim their bodies to be buried.

Standing over the tomb of the soldier. Sergei Viklinko, 41, explained the reason for the continued exhumation of corpses: “All the machines that we have in the city’s inventory – excavators and all – were handed over to the army for digging trenches.”

With the war approaching its fourth month and the number of Ukrainian and Russian casualties increasing to thousands of dead, it is clear that the trenches also became the graves of many soldiers.

Private Viklinko, a former police officer who joined the Ukrainian army when the war began, estimates that 300 people are buried in the mass grave. “We have buried here those who have died since April,” he said.

The tomb is located near a row of hills that are now home to Ukrainian artillery positions defending the city. Howitzers fired and continued through most of Thursday morning.

The number of civilians killed in Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, two cities separated by the Siversky Donets, is unknown. As Russia consolidates its hold in Sievierodonetsk and shifts its focus to neighboring Lysychansk, civilian casualties are certain to increase, unless Ukrainian forces withdraw.

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On Thursday, local officials announced that at least four people were killed in a Russian air strike in Lyschansk. The attack took place in the morning, but it took several hours for the news to be published in the official Telegram channels, highlighting the difficulty of communicating what is happening in the city.

Lysychansk, an industrial city with a pre-war population of 100,000, is largely isolated from the outside world, with no cell phone service or electricity. Local officials estimate that 40,000 people remain in the city, though there is no way to know the exact number.

attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The reasons for their survival include the need to take care of older relatives and, in some cases, even the unwillingness to give up pets.

“Everyone doesn’t want to give up their home,” said a woman who walked out of her home to receive supplies from a group of police officers and soldiers on Thursday. “And what about cats and dogs? What about elders? So we are sitting here.”

“You should have a lot of money to vacate, pay the rent,” she went on, naming only her first name, Luda. Pets are not allowed in the rented apartments. I have two dogs and two cats, how do I abandon them? That’s not an option, cry after them later.”

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She said that two people in her neighborhood were killed by the bombing about a week ago. They were buried in a patch of nearby woodland, and their graves were marked with a cluster of wilted flowers.

In Severodonetsk, about 500 civilians took refuge in a large chemical plant, while fighting raged in parts of the city still controlled by Ukrainian forces. Officials estimate that 10,000 civilians remain there.

Since the destruction of three bridges connecting the two cities, the Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk had no easy escape routes. On Thursday, there were reports that Ukrainian forces that could have crossed the river began to withdraw to defend Lysechansk, which is on higher ground.

For the troops and civilians of Lysichansk, one question remains: what will happen next?

A group of Ukrainian soldiers who have taken refuge in the basement of an apartment complex hope that advanced missile systems promised by the United States will arrive soon. The longer range of the missiles will allow them to hit Russian artillery positions. But until the weapons arrive, the soldiers said, the Russian artillery will be relentless.

One of the soldiers said, “It feels like a whole day.”

attributed to him…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

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