Evidence of anger at betrayal and betrayal as Ukraine’s cities emerge from Russian occupation

Izium, Ukraine – The head of the NATO coalition warned on Friday that during a surprise retaliatory strike Ukraineforces that have saw them paw back a large swath of land The first captured by Russian troops is “extremely encouraging”, it is “not the beginning of the end of the war.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s allies “need to be prepared for the long haul,” as Ukraine’s forces advance their gains and Russia shows no signs of stopping its offensive in the east and south.

As CBS News foreign correspondent Deborah Patta reports, the magnitude of that attack becomes clearer by the day, as residents of towns and villages in the recently liberated Kharkiv region have been hiding for months.

russia ukraine war
Oleg Kotenko, commissioner for missing persons issues under special circumstances, looks at the unidentified graves of civilians and Ukrainian soldiers in the recently retaken area of ​​Izium, Ukraine, September 15, 2022.

Evgeny Maloletka/AP

As soon as the Russian army occupied Izium, they ransacked the city. Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to shell Izium for weeks before taking full control of the city and turning it into a logistics hub.

The shelling destroyed hospitals, homes and schools – clearly not military targets. many people died, often Hastily buried in shallow mass-burial sites,

Patta visited a temporary cemetery in Izium on Friday, where the bodies of hundreds of civilians were buried in shallow graves during the Russian occupation. Many people died in their homes from artillery rain. Others were killed.

The work of exhuming and identifying the dead bodies has started. This would take days, and each would be a personal trauma to the victim’s family and friends, and another national tragedy. To investigate war crimes prosecutors,

The work of war crime prosecutors investigating Russian atrocities in Ukraine


Once they controlled Izium, the Russian army also attempted to erase every trace of Ukrainian identity in the city.

“They burned our books, destroyed our schools, took down our TV channels and promoted Moscow propaganda,” resident Yulia Kozyubenko told CBS News.

Anyone with ties to Ukraine’s military forces was tortured by the Russians, residents told Patta.

“Those who served in the security services were found,” Kozyubenko said. “Dropped out and beaten.”

Bodies found in shallow graves suggest that in some cases, their fate was even worse.

President Zelensky visits the battlefield as retaliation against Russia


But for some, even more difficult than the loss of their culture, their city and their neighbors has been the knowledge that some of them have betrayed them.

Kozyubenko said that her husband was one of them. They called him a traitor.

“My husband is working with the Russians in Kherson,” she said, referring to an area further to the south still largely occupied by Russia. “He no longer exists for me.”

There were those who said that they had no choice but to take what Russia had given them, including Svetlana Fischer. The Izumi resident told Patta that the town’s mayor had abandoned him, and that he had nowhere else to go for food.

“I couldn’t go. No one helped me,” she protested angrily. “Now I’m a traitor because I had to survive on Russian rations?”

Others stood firm, refusing handouts from the occupiers. Liza Jankina and her 50 neighbors lived for more than 100 days with hardly any food in a cold cellar. They often went weeks without proper food during Russia’s nearly six-month-long occupation of Izium.

Now he is bitter about anyone in the city who was seen supporting Russian troops.

But as the full extent of Russian atrocities unfold in Izeum, that bitterness is quickly turning into hatred for those who brought death to the city.

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