Soldiers arriving from Siberia: ‘Is this Kharkiv yet?’

Video excerpt from the propaganda channel of the self-proclaimed LPR police. Kharkiv region. 19 April, 2022. (Source:

Kozacha Lopan, an urban commune in the Kharkiv region, and Tsupivka village nearby became one of the first “victories” of the Russian invasion in that area and has been occupied almost since the beginning of the war. In recent days, the situation has begun to change in the northern suburbs of Kharkiv: some villages are now in the neutral zone after being temporarily abandoned by Russians, while several others, according to preliminary information, have come back under the control of the Ukrainian Army.


Those who were able to leave the Kharkiv region after Russia’s invasion of the region began to say that young soldiers came there first.

There were many Buryats [people from the Republic of Buryatia in Siberia - ed.] who came to Tsupivka and asked the locals: “Is this Kharkiv?” They were amazed by the asphalt road and the new lighting along the route. These troops even helped one grandmother to treat her leg injured in the shelling. During the shelling, they jumped to hide in the cellars together with the residents. On one occasion, they drove an armoured personnel carrier in one yard and demolished the gate to escape from the shooting.

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Video excerpt from the propaganda channel of the self-proclaimed LPR police. Kharkiv region. 19 April, 2022. (Source:

Then came the so-called LPR Militia from Luhansk. They started drinking, talking about “eight years of bombing Donbas” and all that sort of stuff. They didn't even have normal clothes, they wore spotted blue uniforms like security guards and makeshift boots. Some were in sneakers and rubber slippers. They oppressed the population the most, asking local drug lords in between drinking sessions if they had any supplies. Well, with no lights, power or ways to communicate in the occupied part of Kharkiv you would need to see them scrambling for deals.

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Video excerpt from the propaganda channel of the self-proclaimed LPR police. Kharkiv region. 19 April, 2022. (Source:

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Video excerpt from the propaganda channel of the self-proclaimed LPR police. Kharkiv region. 19 April, 2022. (Source:

The last to arrive were other servicemen from the Russian Armed Forces. Who exactly? Many rumours said that they were Kadyrovites, in fact Ossetians. They raided nearby Tchaikyvka and left. Some people there had their passports confiscated and were forced to celebrate. All cellars with food were cleared out. Another local said that his brother's head had been smashed into his knee, then was forced to the ground and a machine gun fired near his head. They gave him a shell casing as a souvenir, saying “If you lose it, we’ll kill you.” And when anyone asked to go to the hospital, they said, “Try Belgorod, (over the Russian border), if you get there.”

How long will this third wave last? Let's see. There are unplanted fields around, but our rear is covered and our army is nearby – the front is just a few kilometres behind us. However, if the meat grinder near Izyum continues to pull more invading forces away,  it is possible that in the end there will be none of them to control this area.

Life under occupation in Ruska Lozova

Houses were set on fire by shells in Ruska Lozova. Kharkiv region. April 2022. (Photo: Dergachiv City Council)

On Thursday, 28 April, the first news emerged that Ukrainian troops had regained control of the village of Ruska Lozova, which is located directly on the Kharkiv-Belgorod highway.

“It is from there that in recent months the enemy has mercilessly shelled Oleksiyivka, and the villages of Zhukovske and Pyatihatky. But now the invaders have been driven away from Kharkiv, and I hope that the shelling of these areas and the city in general will decrease,” said Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov in a video message.  Shortly afterwards, the village came under heavy artillery fire again.

The population in Ruska Lozova and other villages nearby spent two months in basements and cellars, eating canned food and vegetables. Some did not have enough food even for children and had brought very little. Forget about medicine. There has been no electricity or communication since the first days of the war. The occupiers checked documents, confiscated cars, laptops and hunting weapons. They said that the only road out was to Belgorod, and if we try to get to Kharkiv, they will shoot. Houses where owners were absent were broken into.

“Even though I am 63 years old, I never thought I would feel such fear. Not only for myself – for everyone around. People here were just shaking”, one woman said. “We couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and we couldn’t flee to Kharkiv. We were told: ‘You only have a one-way ticket to Russia; no Ukraine will rise or help you.’ These are evil spirits, you can't call them anything else. These are really fascists!”

Other witnesses said: “They were nothing more than looters. They knocked on our door and sent us to the basement at 17 degrees below zero. We all got sick! They arrived in torn sneakers and changed into shoes found in the apartments. One bulky guy was in sandals. They took the things they needed.”

Russian trophies from Ruska Lozova. Kharkiv region. April 2022. (Photo: from local chats)

“It depended on the behaviour of soldiers if you were lucky or not. Some even rummaged through peoples’ underpants, others took off their shoes before coming in, looked around and then left apologising. Humanitarian aid was brought from Belgorod about once a week. A certain amount of cereals and stews was allocated for one street. Many houses were taken over, especially near the highway. Cars were stolen and driven around the village, they inspected everything constantly. Sometimes it was loud, sometimes it was quiet.”

During exchanges of fire, the community took cover as hostages. Houses often shook from shelling, in one of the gardens there were 14 impact craters. Those killed in the wreckage were buried in the gardens, their number is currently unknown.

The day before yesterday, about 600 civilians, mostly elderly, were evacuated from Ruska Lozova to Kharkiv by vehicles provided by local authorities. The next day, about 100 more people were taken to safer places. Many went to join relatives.