'They just wanted to drink': Liberated Ukraine villagers describe Russian troops' behaviour

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By Euronews  with AFP
Local residents take some food distributed by a Ukrainian soldier in Yampil, near Lyman, Donetsk region, recently retaken from Russian occupation on October 6, 2022.
Local residents take some food distributed by a Ukrainian soldier in Yampil, near Lyman, Donetsk region, recently retaken from Russian occupation on October 6, 2022.   -   Copyright  YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP   -  

Defending soldiers faced with the daunting task of scouring abandoned homes on Ukraine's eastern front line are prepared for the worst.

Minefields, mass graves and devastated villages are just some of the discoveries President Zelenskyy's soldiers have made during their rapid counteroffensive.

Residents in the village of Yampil in Donetsk described what they went through when Russia's troops invaded.

"They were alcoholics. They were wasters. They just wanted to drink. And they were stealing of course, but what can you say to a soldier? Nothing", said one elderly man.

"I was 20 kilogrammes heavier. And I have diabetes. I can't describe it, what we have lived through. And we're still afraid now," said another woman.

One resident led the soldiers to the remains of an anti-tank missile wedged deep in the grass and an abandoned vehicle marked with the infamous Z symbol.

Ukrainian soldiers said some Russian troops were left behind as their forces pulled out, too slow to keep up.

"Some of them are lost because they've no navigation. And they just give themselves up to us. They've no choice. They're cold and hungry," said Andriy, a member of Ukraine's 103rd Brigade.

The residents said they were forced to stand aside as Russian troops set up base camps in their houses.

As they cautiously checked behind corners and searched dark rooms, the Ukrainian soldiers discovered abandoned uniforms, military paraphernalia, medical packs, and hanging laundry.

According to one report, some were strewn with alcohol bottles and other mess, including a half-cooked meal of fried patties and animal and human faeces.

One local, Galyna, pointed to the place where her sister and nephew were buried, marked by a cross made of sticks.

Witnesses told reporters that Russian troops fired at an ambulance they were travelling in when it failed to stop.

Reporters said it was unclear what happened next but witnesses said they heard an explosion while debris from a vehicle was discovered nearby.

The driver and Galyna's relatives were buried together close to where the Russian soldiers were camping.

"She never hurt a fly in her life. Why did she deserve this death?" Galyna said.