Severodonetsk: According to Ukraine, most of the city is under Russian control because “the situation is still problematic”

Severodonetsk: According to Ukraine, most of the city is under Russian control because "the situation is still problematic"

The local school was destroyed as Ukrainian forces retook control of Katyuzhanka, a community north of Kyiv that had been under Russian occupation for more than a month in March. Any equipment that hadn’t been stolen had been shattered, the school yard had been turned into a makeshift cemetery, and huge trenches had been excavated across the football field.

Mikola Mikitchik, the principal of the Secondary School of Katyuzhanka, told CNN last month he felt disgusted when he found the notes. “They wrote ‘Russians and Ukrainians are brothers’ and at the same time they robbed the school … they ruined computers, they took out hard drives, they took away laptops, printers, they left nothing at the school! It’s barbarism and hypocrisy,” he said. Mikitchik told CNN three anti-tank mines, several stun grenades and machine gun magazines with bullets were found on the school grounds. The kitchen, recently refurbished with new equipment that was used to feed more than 500 children on a daily basis before the war started, was completely wrecked.

A letter addressed to the students and signed “the Russians” was written in chalk on a large, green chalkboard hanging on the wall immediately below a painting of Isaac Newton in one of the wrecked classrooms. “Children, we apologise for such a mess; we attempted to rescue the school, but there was shelling,” it said. The note, written in Russian, as opposed to Ukrainian — the school’s language of instruction, was one of several left on blackboards and whiteboards scattered around the building. “We are for the peace in the whole world,” another one said. CNN cannot independently verify who wrote the notes.

According to an operational update published by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on March 3, Russian troops were in control of Katyuzhanka at that time, having established logistics camps there and in other villages in the area. Katyuzhanka is a small village, but strategically important due to its position on one of the main roads leading to Kyiv. Satellite images from early March revealed a 40-mile-long (64-kilometer-long) Russian military convoy composed of tanks, armored vehicles and towed artillery in this area. Mikitchik has estimated the material damage caused by the Russian troops — and in his mind there’s no doubt it was them who looted the school — amounted to about 5 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($170,000) and said he cannot imagine pupils coming back any time soon.

 

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