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“Close the sky!” or how Russia bombed out my town of Borodyanka

close the sky Ukraine
Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 2 March 2022 after the Russian shelling of the town. Photo: Twitter/@StahivUA
“Close the sky!” or how Russia bombed out my town of Borodyanka
Translated by: Yuri Zoria
Despite multiple appeals to close the sky, NATO has refused to enforce a no-fly zone above Ukraine. Because they are free to fly over Ukraine, Russian bombers continue killing civilians and demolishing civilian infrastructure, as it happened in the small city of Borodyanka. A resident lived through the bombardment; here is his story.

On 1 March and overnight into 2 March, Russian bombers destroyed the entire central part of a small town of Borodyanka north of Kyiv. Russian aviation, artillery, missile forces keep leveling Ukrainian cities to the ground viciously for no reason to this day. Russia has been doing to the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and many others what it had done to Syrian cities before.

This is a story told by a local resident of Borodyanka who calls himself Fayna Borodyanka (“Lovely Borodyanka”) on Twitter. He and his family enjoyed a quiet life there up until the Russian invasion. The author maintains anonymity but allowed Euromaidan Press to publish his story, originally posted on Twitter in Ukrainian. All photographs are courtesy of the author.

This is just the aftermath of the morning fire attack. If tomorrow is quiet, I will try to walk around, to photograph the consequences of the “Russian world.” It’s so horrible that it still seems to me that it’s not real, that it’s not happening to me. I used to be sure that the Russians wouldn’t need Borodyanka. I still want to believe that this is just a terrible dream.

“I’ll tell you what the ‘Russian world’ is. It is death, destruction, and hopelessness,” Fayna Borodyanka wrote. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

“Let the whole world see what the Russians are doing!”

Central Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 2 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

It wasn’t artillery. The Russian aircraft were bombing us.

Central Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 2 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
Central Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 2 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
Monument to the Ukrainian national poet of the 19th century Taras Shevchenko on the central square of Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 2 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

It’s probably better to hide at the front door. In the apartments where we searched for survivors at night, the doorways seemed to have been less destroyed.

This is just one shelling today, March 2. Before that, there was another one in the morning. And a few other ones yesterday. There are 10 such high-rise houses in the town now:

A ruined house on fire in central Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, overnight into 2 March 2022 after a Russian air raid. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
They’re definitely shelling on purpose in this way. This is a targeted attack on residential buildings. Each bomb destroys one house. We don’t have Ukrainian military personnel in the town.
Excerpt from Taras Shevchenko’s poem on the granite tile that broke off from the damaged monument in Borodyanka, reading “Love your Ukraine. Love her… In ferocious times, in the last difficult minute, pray to the Lord for her!”
Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

I should finally put my wits together and write a thread about yesterday, March 1, in Borodyanka. It was a very long, very difficult day

1 March 2022 in Borodyanka

Well, yesterday started quietly and we decided to go out and see if any shop or pharmacy was open. And there we realized that there are no more shops or pharmacies in Borodyanka.

Damage from the Russian fire attacks on Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, on 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
A shop destroyed by the Russian fire attacks on Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast, 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

Back then I thought it was severe damage. How wrong I was!

I was shocked so much by the massive looting. We probably were the only ones who tried to stop the looting of appliances – when people are forced to take food, I have no right to blame them.

Then I saw the burned-down Russian equipment. I still can’t believe that all this is happening in Borodyanka.

Wreckage of Russian military equipment in Borodyanka, 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
Wreckage of Russian military equipment in Borodyanka, 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA
Abandoned Russian BMP vehicles in Borodyanka, 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

We didn’t go any further, because we had to literally run away from the Russian tanks that were rushing here.

And in a few hours, I learned that shots from that tanks or explosions of 120 mortar shells are a childish thing as compared to airstrikes. These are really f*cking scary.

We took our Tweeter friends from the bombed-out neighborhood and went to look for survivors. And there instead of the basement was just a pile of rubble.

A collapsed section of a high-rise building in Borodyanka on 1 March 2022. Photo courtesy Twitter/StahivUA

From yesterday, I started swearing.

What made the situation insane to the maximum was the fact that the explosion shattered the shop’s windows and next to this mass grave the crowd immediately started snatching everything they could there.

Sometime later there the air attack repeated. Here on Twitter was a report that somebody was trapped in the house. We considered it a bit, grabbed a searchlight, and went there disregarding the curfew.

As we came, there was hell.

The stairs of the two stairwells collapsed completely, as did the apartments between them, but to the right and left from what was the stairs, parts of the apartments remained and there were survivors.

And I just can’t imagine how it would be possible to get there and get them out. Hatred and despair are overwhelming me.

A man from the unbroken part of the house approached and asked to help pull out at least those who had a chance to be rescued. People were completely trapped in the basement. Just a pile of pieces of brick, concrete, and earth, with moans and cries for help coming from there.

I don’t know what stopped me from panicking. If I was alone, I certainly wouldn’t be able to think or do anything. We began to clear it out bit by bit. The ruins above were on fire and things were falling down bit by bit, scary as hell.

It seemed that an eternity passed as we were digging down. We half dug up a granny, tied an extension cable around her, pulled, and finally got her out.

Her legs may have been broken, but she could move them. I picked up her daughter’s phone and I can’t even imagine how her daughter felt when she heard my voice. There was such panic all around.

Grandmother’s son-in-law rushed there, a car arrived taking her to hospital. Another man came and asked to help pull somebody out of the blocked third floor. More people came up and we ran there.

We entered the next apartment and it was so painful to see the ruined apartment with toys, a stroller, and blood everywhere.

We dropped a closet from the balcony, broke through a sandwich panel, tied the woman’s son with a rope and he climbed on the next balcony.

Then their neighbor climbed. It was clear that the guy was scared, but he climbed anyway. I should add that Russian tanks were constantly rushing here and there, so we had to turn off the lights.

I ran back to the basement, and the guys had already brought a woman down from the balcony with a rope.

We saved only these two women. I can’t even imagine how many people died that night.

We ran to the apartments with front doors broken away, looking for the wounded. We found nobody, but the apartments were completely shattered. Blood everywhere.

Covered in blood, injured people were leaving their destroyed apartments. In winter. At night. With Russian tanks rushing on their street. This cannot be forgiven.

This night will probably stay with me for the rest of my life.

And today at 7 a.m. we woke up to another bombardment. The worst thing is to wait for the impact after the sound of the plane’s bombing run.

Three hits and three destroyed houses. This is not a coincidence, this is a deliberate attack on residential buildings.

Apparently, it would be the right thing to rush and look for the survivors, but I just couldn’t force myself to go there. When, finally, Laptsia (affectionately about his wife, – Ed.) left and I was able to approach there. It was just burning in silence. A man stood nearby, said, “Sorry mom” and left.

I will have a phobia of airplanes. They flew this afternoon (on March 2, – Ed.), but didn’t bomb anymore… Silence for now.

We managed to send away Laptsia with juniors to a safer place. Here I stay only with my mother-in-law, kitties, and doggies. So far it’s quiet…

“I’ve picked up a little cat who used to live near us. His owner left. Until the end, I will try to be a human,” Fayna Borodyanka wrote.

Translated by: Yuri Zoria
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