Updated January 12, 2023 | 4:55PM MST


IRPIN, UKRAINE – In between apartment blocks, most of them newly built just some years ago, a burnout car stands in front of one of the apartment entrances. A woman, holding a large can of water, passes by and somewhat frustratingly starts shouting: ¨look, look around you, you see what those Russian orcs, those fascists, did here?!¨ It doesn´t take long to see what this desolate place had been through. Bullet holes leave scars on the apartment block for a fierce battle that was fought here in March 2022.


Just some 10 miles northeast of Ukraine´s capital Kyiv lies the suburb Irpin. A town inhabited by mostly young families that commute to the capital for work and because Irpin is a lot cheaper to live in than Kyiv. Not to mention that most of the giant apartment complexes are newly built, and don´t look anything like the square concrete Soviet apartment complexes that you see all around Ukraine, a former Soviet country. But now these new and colorful apartment complexes are marked with bullet holes. Windows were blown out. Black burn pits on the walls. And on some of the streets, burnout cars. It shows that this war had ravaged this once so sleepy suburb.


On 25 February, Russian forces advances on another suburb, Hostomel, near Irpin. Because Hostomel had an airport, Russian forces were able to establish a foothold in its attempts to advance Kyiv. The goal of the Russian army was to capture the cities of Bucha and Irpin and encircle Kyiv. In this period residents of Irpin reported that some Russian soldiers even disguised themselves as Ukrainian soldiers.

The battle of Irpin is one of the bloodiest in the events of the war in Ukraine. Right now, though, everything seems to have calmed down, but walking amidst destroyed buildings makes you think how in the world life could ever start progressing here again. It is a small ride on a bus from Kyiv, passing a military checkpoint where Ukrainian soldiers ask all the men on the bus for identification documents. These checks need to be made in order to arrest people who are on the watchlist of the Ukrainian Security Service.


Coffeeshops are still in place, and people have started moving back to their homes in Irpin. Though not everything is okay. Electricity and water are scarce, and due to this winter, residents can seek refuge in many communal places where the Ukrainian authorities have set up tents with warmth, food, drinks, and the Internet. In one of these places, a Ukrainian army representative tells me that at some times up to a hundred people are in the tents when the electricity is off in the district of Irpin. Nonetheless, despite the ongoing fighting in the east, hundreds of miles away, residents here near the capital still struggle to survive.


Walking through the rubble and debris of Irpin, witnessing a destroyed children´s theatre, makes me think like most people on the street: Why is this all happening?

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