The return of diplomatic missions to the Ukraine capital of Kyiv—including visits by European leaders and reopening of embassies—make it seem like things are returning to normal, but life on and under the ground proves otherwise.
Late Saturday, workers trying to clean up after Russia’s failed attempt to capture the city found another mass grave. This time, dozens of clearly civilian bodies were under fresh dirt near a gas station in the Kyiv suburb of Buzova. Children were among the victims, according to Reuters.
The regional leader Taras Didych said the number of victims was yet unknown as excavations continue. “Now we are returning to life but during the occupation we had our ‘hotspots’ many civilians died,” he said.
The discovery comes against a backdrop of continuing horror as Ukrainians who were held captive by retreating Russian troops tell stories of violent rapes of Ukrainian soldiers’ wives—often in front of their children—and torture, including cutting out people’s tongues if they refused to praise Russia, which was a tactic used by the Islamic State for years.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, clearly aware of how bad his troops are performing, appointed Army General Alexander Dvornikov, his former man in Syria, to try to bring order to his troops. It remains unclear whether a new commander will focus on the eastern regions or start over and try to take Kyiv once more.
Russian troops under Dvornikov in Syria carried out unthinkable aggression to help Syria recapture its cities and the combat veteran has a reputation for being merciless. Under his control, his troops in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked countless residential neighborhoods to help win back key areas.
Meanwhile, satellite imagery captured an eight-mile convoy of Russian military hardware east of Kharkiv, where residents have been warned to evacuate. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, has been under constant bombardment since the start of the war. Late last week, residents found timed land mines meant to explode in coming days, perhaps to lay the groundwork for a more aggressive invasion.