KHARKIV (Ukraine) — She was out feeding the cats when shelling started.

It was afternoon in a residential area, and it was time to run errands. There is no routine in life at the frontline of Ukraine.

Kharkiv is the second-largest city in the country and just a few minutes from the Russian border. It lives with the low sound of distant artillery as well as the sickening booms and explosions of shells much closer to home.

Like other residents, Natalia Kolesnik learned to accept the risks. On a humid Thursday afternoon, she was shelled in a grassy courtyard.

She was one of three bodies found on the ground.

Unrecognizable, one body was seen. A second body, with a yellow torn dress and a blue slipper that had been ripped off, was found beside a splintered wood bench. A box of half-eaten fruits, cherries, and apples lay next to it. It was stained with blood.

A mobile phone was found in a purse on the bench.

Kolesnik was close by.

Viktor, her husband, was in shock. He refused to let her go. He stroked her forehead.

His son Olexander stated, “Dad that’s it,” while watching first responders wait to close the body bag. “She’s dead. “Get up!”

His father asked, “Don’t your understanding?”

The son replied, “What don’t I understand?” “This is my mother. Dad, please. Dad, please.”

Viktor kneeled, holding his wife’s hand, the other cradling his shoulder. His stubbled chin was pressing against the grit.

He took her left hand, placed it back and covered it with his.

The pleas continued. Viktor shoved his son away again.

“Dad, go.”

“I can’t go.”

“Look, your body is covered in blood.” She must be carried away by others.

Viktor started to close the bag by himself, and then the first responders arrived.

Viktor was left to cry on a bench while neighbors watched from the field edge.

“Why were these people murdered?” Terrible. Sergey Pershin, a neighbor, said that he was sick of it. “Every night, we wake up 10x a nights and wait to see if they start shooting. What are these scumbags doing? These are residential areas. They are shooting here because they have residential buildings. “There is nothing here.”

It was only one day in Kharkiv where hundreds of people have been killed in 19 weeks’ war. Russia is reassembling its troops in order to seize more territory in eastern Ukraine. It is likely that more people will die as a result.

The United Nations human rights officer had confirmed that at least 4,889 civilians were killed in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. This number was likely a significant undercount.


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