By Luis Lidon
Novyi Vytkiv, Ukraine, Jun 13 (EFE).- Ukraine’s casualties in the war against Russia have been kept a secret, yet devastating human loss as a result of intense fighting in Donbas paints a grim picture even in the eastern region’s smallest towns.
Novyi Vytkiv is an agricultural district of around 1,000 inhabitants in western Ukraine, located about 80 kilometers from the city of Lviv.
Volodimir Dmitras, 28, has just been buried after being killed by a Russian artillery strike in the embattled Severodonetsk city.
More than 100 neighbors, including 20 soldiers, got together to pay their last respects to Dmitras, while his grieving widow, Yulia, can barely stand up.
“I come to show him respect for fighting for us. It’s very hard because he was a great person, and he was also a good friend,” explains Volodimir, one of those who made it to the funeral.
“He’s a hero,” he adds. “The Russians leave us no choice but to fight.”
In times of war, it is common to hide the death toll and exaggerate losses on the enemy’s side, which is the case with Russia and Ukraine.
But the bloody battle in Donbas sheds light on the losses throughout the country.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that between 50 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers die every day in the eastern part of the country.
Oleksiy Arestovych, one of Zelenskyy’s aides, has said the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed since the beginning of the invasion are around 10,000 while Russian casualties stand at more than 31,000. None of these figures can be verified.
At the cemetery, mourners gather around the coffin and listen to an army chaplain honor the fallen man by saying: “We have to cleanse our country from the Russians so we can live in peace.”
As the funeral is about to come to an end, some sing the Ukrainian anthem, others cry, but no one questions the sacrifice and the need to continue fighting.
“Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes,” they chant.
Stepan Kohanchuk, mayor of Radekhiv, where Novyi Vytkiv is situated, explains to Efe that about 1,000 of the city’s 33,000 citizens are serving in the army.
So far, 11 have died and eight others went missing since the beginning of the war.
“There is no alternative except victory. We have to win because our independence is at stake,” Kohanchuk says.EFE