By Roman Pilipey
Moshchun, Ukraine, Jul 27 (EFE).- Nadiya and Yuriy Zayika’s peaceful life in Moshchun was turned on its head by Russia’s invasion.
The couple returned to the village just outside Kyiv on April 22 to find their home, which they had once shared with their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, reduced to rubble and ash.
For now, the couple and their family are being hosted by a local priest, but they hope to rebuild their home on the same plot of scorched land.
“To rebuild the house, we need money,” Nadiya, 62, says. “Which we don’t have.”
She explains that they are waiting for a state commission to assess the damage so that they can claim compensation to fund the rebuild or request alternative housing. Nadiya does not expect to start rebuilding their home until next year, at the earliest.
They are among the few hundred people who have returned to the commuter town outside the capital, which before the invasion was home to several thousand.
Moshchun, like nearby Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel, was engulfed by vicious fighting in the early stages of the Russian invasion, which began on February 24.
Its houses, streets and gardens became the front line of Ukrainian resistance during Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ultimately failed bid to advance on the capital city, the center of which is just 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the village.
Russia’s withdrawal from the region revealed a path of abject destruction, with 85% of the village completely flattened or severely damaged by hostilities.
Nadiya and Yuriy are among the millions of Ukrainians internally displaced by the invasion.
Nadiya fled Moshchun in early March, and eventually found shelter in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine, along with some of her grandchildren and other relatives.
But Yuriy, 66, stayed behind in a bid to save the house, thinking that there would be “maybe some gunshots and that’s it.”
“Who could imagine that this would happen here,” he says. ”Since all the bridges around were blown up, the Russians had only this way to go, so that’s why they went here.”
He decided to leave for Kyiv after suffering a fall and breaking his leg in a cellar as he sheltered from a Russian bombardment.
“When the shelling started hitting the vegetable garden and around until the shelling finished I did not leave the cellar. Then my son came to pick me up, he told me to get in the car quickly and took me away.”
Russia’s invasion, which has since concentrated around eastern and southern Ukraine, has uprooted an estimated 12 million Ukrainians, the United Nations has said.
And about 800,000 Ukrainians have lost their homes due to the conflict, according to Olena Shulyak, the head of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
Towns and villages located in the northern Kyiv region bear the scars of war from Russia’s temporary occupation of the zone and the heavy fighting witnessed between February and March 2022. EFE