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Russo-Ukrainian War: Melee street fighting in the last bastion of the Ukrainian resistance before Kiev

Ukrainian servicemen and residents who fled northwestern Kyiv described on Monday street fighting and “melee”which could soon spread to the besieged capital of Ukraine.

“Now there are real street fights,” a Ukrainian paratrooper lieutenant who agreed to be identified as Stas told AFP in the city of Irpina hot spot, on the twelfth day since the invasion of Russia.

“In some places there is hand-to-hand fighting,” Stas said. “There is a huge column, 200 men, 50 light armored vehicles, several tanks,” he explained. “We’re trying to drive them out, but I don’t know if we’ll be fully capable of doing it. The situation is very unstable“.

A Ukrainian military guard outside Irpin. Photo: EFE

The industrial city of Irpin is the last point of resistance of the Ukrainian forces against the Russian assault on Kiev.

The Russian offensive began on February 24 with missile strikes and a paratroop deployment in Gostomel, the furthest suburb of Kiev. Ukrainian soldiers repulsed the initial push and destroyed some of the early Russian armored vehicles.

But the Russians sent reinforcements from Belarus They arrived early last week.

Since then, the offensive has been gaining momentum.

A Ukrainian soldier stands guard near a destroyed church in the city of Irpin.  Photo: EFE

A Ukrainian soldier stands guard near a destroyed church in the city of Irpin. Photo: EFE

Russian ground forces seized several areas around Gostomel and used incessant bombardment to reach further south, to the city of Bucha.

“On Friday morning, there was a Ukrainian flag over Bucha, and then the Russian teams started coming in,” said Vitaliy Shichko, a resident.

This 47-year-old man has a bandage over two gunshot wounds on the left wrist and another to cover various bruises on the left side of the face.

“At first, it seemed like they sent people who weren’t afraid of losing,” Shichko said. “But when I was hiding in the basement, the Russians who found us were serious, well equipped, with torches and full communications, basically special forces,” he said.

Neighbors try to escape from the combat zones.  Photo: EFE

Neighbors try to escape from the combat zones. Photo: EFE

Much of Bucha is now ruined. The city continues to be bombarded with mortar fire and dark smoke hangs over its horizon.

Ukrainian residents and soldiers told AFP that almost everyone who was strong enough to walk they have already fled.

“Old people or those who can’t use their feet stay,” said Marina Manfyorova, a resident, as she hurried toward evacuation buses waiting on the Kiev side of the river that separates Irpin from the Ukrainian capital. . “They still have hope of being saved.”

The Russian offensive in Irpin began with shelling that sent a first big wave of residents fleeing on Saturday. This Monday you could see Russian tanks and armored vehicles moving less than two kilometers from the limits of Kiev.

Several witnesses said the Russians had set up snipers in a block of high-rise buildings overlooking the deserted streets and mud fields through which residents were fleeing towards Kiev.

“There is a sniper in that blue building,” said Oleksiy Cherikalov, a soldier, looking over his right shoulder.

This 40-year-old military man took a day off to evacuate his own family from Irpin. But even as a soldier he was struck by the magnitude of the seemingly random violence.

“That sniper has been shooting at us all day,” he said.

Other witnesses and soldiers said the Russians had forced some people from their homes to set up new firing positions.

“The Russians are positioning themselves in residential buildings, apartments, shops“said Konstantyn Lokhmitskiy, a 38-year-old soldier. “Then they started shooting exclusively to civilians“, he assured.

“I fought too. This is my third war. But this didn’t used to happen,” Lokhmitsky said. “Nobody shot civilians at that time”.

With information from AFP

DD

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