Ukrainian soldier patrolling Chernobyl says deaths in Russia’s war are ‘catastrophic’ and worse than anything he’s seen in years of fighting

A funeral for a Ukrainian soldier
The mother of Ukrainian serviceman Roman Barvinok mourns near his coffin during a funeral service at the cemetery in Kyiv.Oleksii Chumachenko/Getty Images
  • A Ukrainian soldier serving near Chernobyl but who has also served in the Donbas wrote a reflection on death for the NYT.
  • Artem Chekh said that the scale of death in Russia’s war is worse than anything he saw in the Donbas years earlier.
  • Chekh served in a conflict against Kremlin-backed rebels in the Donbas that began in 2014.

A Ukrainian soldier serving in the Chernobyl exclusion zone wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times that Russia’s unprovoked war against his country has led to “catastrophic” losses.

Artem Chekh previously served in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region from 2015 to 2016, fighting in a conflict against Kremlin-backed rebels that began in 2014 — the same year that Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Chekh said Russia’s war in Ukraine, which started in late February, is worse than anything he saw on the front lines in terms of the sheer number of deaths.

“I used to think I had seen enough deaths in my life. I served on the front line in the Donbas for almost a year in 2015-16, and I witnessed numerous tragedies. But in those days the scale of losses was completely different, at least where I was,” Chekh wrote, adding, “This is another kind of war, and the losses are, without exaggeration, catastrophic.”

“We no longer know the names of all the dead: There are dozens of them every day. Ukrainians constantly mourn those lost; there are rows of closed coffins in the central squares of relatively calm cities across the country. Closed coffins are the terrible reality of this cruel, bloody and seemingly endless war,” he added.

It’s estimated that roughly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the war so far. Though estimated Russian casualties are far higher — as many as 80,000 killed or wounded, according to recent Pentagon estimates — it’s still a staggering number after just half a year of of fighting.

Chekh wrote that he’s “accepted the possibility of my death as an almost accomplished fact,” going on to say, that “so it must be for those who consciously tread the path of war.”

But he said that the “death of civilians, especially children, is a completely different matter.”

“And no, I don’t mean that the life of a civilian is more valuable than the life of a military person. But it is a little more difficult to be prepared for the death of an ordinary Ukrainian who was going about her life and was suddenly killed by Russian roulette,” Check wrote. “It is also impossible to be prepared for brutal tortures, mass graves, mutilated children, dead bodies buried in the courtyards of apartment buildings, and missile attacks on residential areas, theaters, museums, kindergartens and hospitals.”

Russia has been accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine, where it’s estimated 5,663 civilians have been killed since the onset of the conflict, per the latest UN figures.

Chekh said part of what Ukrainians are fighting for against Russia is “the right not only to a dignified life but also to a dignified death.”

“Let us, the people of Ukraine, wish ourselves a good death — in our own beds, for example, when the time comes. And not when a Russian missile hits our house at dawn,” he said, closing out his piece on the devastating toll Russian aggression is taking on the people of Ukraine.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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