The bodies of Russian soldiers are piling up in Ukraine, as Kremlin conceals true toll of war
The first warm, sunny days of spring in the southern Mykolaiv region are ushering in a grim new reality: the smell of the dead.
As the frost melts and ground thaws, the bodies of Russian soldiers strewn across the landscape are becoming a problem.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, Vitaly Kim, the region’s governor, called on local residents to help collect the corpses and put them in bags, as temperatures rise to above freezing. “We’re not beasts, are we?” he implored residents, who have already lost so many of their own in this war.
Mykolaiv was among the first regional capitals to be attacked after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. After pushing into the urban center, Russian troops have been forced out by Ukraine’s military, leaving a trail of blackened combat vehicles and tanks in their wake. But the battle for the city, a cornerstone in Russia’s westward quest along the Black Sea coast to Odesa, is still raging and it’s unclear how long Ukrainian forces will be able to fend off the assault.
Referring to them as “orcs”— the evil, monstrous army in J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” — Kim said that the Russians had retreated and left their colleagues’ charred bodies behind on the battlefield. He sent CNN pictures of the abandoned corpses, adding: “There are hundreds of them, all over the region.”
The governor has called for the bodies to be placed into refrigerators and sent back to Russia for identification through DNA testing. But, a month into the war, it is still unclear how or if the remains of soldiers are being repatriated to Russia, where reports about the death toll have largely been silenced. The country has cracked down on any information about the realities of the bloody war, restricting access to Western media reports, as well as the social networks Twitter and Facebook, in Russian territory.
CATEGORIES War in Ukraine