A devastated Ukrainian village left after the Russian troop’s retreat

There is hardly something left of this Ukrainian village. Its homes and businesses have been levelled, and its school has been reduced to a bombed-out shell by the Russians. Even though the church has been damaged by rockets and mortars, the golden dome that sits atop its ruined bell tower still shines brightly amid the last light of fall.

Anatolii Klyzhen, a local resident, estimates that there are only approximately 30 people left in this little town located southeast of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv. These individuals are living in basements and houses that have been gutted out. When Russian soldiers crossed the border in February and occupied the settlement soon after, there were around one thousand people living here.

Around the 9th of September:

Troops withdrew from the Hrakove region as the Ukrainian military pushed in a lightning-quick counteroffensive. This assault has the potential to be a turning point, paving the way for additional wins in the east and elsewhere. However, it also has the potential to provoke a harsh reaction from Moscow, which might lead to a new and disastrous escalation in the conflict.

About the indication of the Russian Force:

There was no indication that the Russian forces were going to depart any time soon. "No one was aware of anything. "They departed really quietly," recalled Viacheslav Myronenko, 71, who had lived in the basement of his bombed-out apartment building with three other neighbours for more than four months. He had been living there with them since the apartment building had been damaged by the bombing.

The debris left behind by a retreating army can still be seen strewn around the town. These include empty ration packs from the Russian army, discarded boxes with instructions for using explosives, a gas mask hanging from a tree, and an army jacket crushed into the dirt. The turret and the gun have been blasted off of the body of the Russian tank that is rusting just outside the hamlet beside the bus stop. The road that it is lying on is pitted with holes caused by shells.

After the Russian occupation of Hrakove had been going on for a few weeks, Myronenko and his neighbours got together to clean up the basement of their apartment building so that it might be converted into a safe haven for anyone who needed it. Despite the fact that their apartments were damaged, it continues to serve as their home.

According to one of the four, Oleh Lutsai, who is 70 years old, they discovered a pair of metal pipes and jammed them between the floor and the ceiling in the hope that this would prevent the ceiling from collapsing when the building rocked from the explosions. In spite of the constant shelling, they went outdoors to plant potatoes since they were aware that they need food in order to live.

"When everything in here is shaking, it is really alarming for everyone, so of course it was scary," said Lutsai. "Of course it was scary." A dim light emanated from an oil lamp that was mounted on the wall of the claustrophobic chamber. On the wood-burning stove that Lutsai and his neighbours had constructed, a kettle made a quiet whistling sound.

It was not possible for him to abandon the job. "I've been here all my life, and I'm seventy years old," he remarked. "Even if I had to pass away here — although it is abundantly clear that I would prefer to live — I would hope that it would be in the Ukrainian Ukraine and not in Ukraine ruled by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Then why should I want to get away from this place?"