SKYBYN, UKRAINE (AFP) – The turret from a rusted tank marking Russia’s closest advance towards northeastern Kyiv lies next to a destroyed petrol station that reveals the pain of Ukraine’s mounting fuel problems.
The once-mighty tank was one of dozens in a column ambushed by the outgunned Ukrainian forces at the peak of the March battle for Kyiv.
The fuel pumps’ mangled remains hint at the sweeping social and economic problems haunting Ukraine in the third month of the grinding Russian invasion.
Local painter Viktor Karpenko knows which ruin has more value.
“The most important thing is that the Russian army is not here,” the 53-year-old said after examining the tanks’ mangled hulk splitting the main road running through the village of Skybyn outside Kyiv.
“The wait for fuel can now last an hour. But I am ready to wait two hours to make sure nothing like this happens again.”
The force of the blast that blew up the Russian tank – almost certainly killing everyone inside instantly – propelled the turret and its big gun across one side of the four-lane highway.
“I think they lost their last strength here,” Mr Karpenko said of the Russians. “They lost their attacking punch.”
The Russian army has regrouped and is pressing on with its campaign along Ukraine’s eastern and southern flanks.
The human suffering in the war zone is growing by the hour.
But snaking queues of cars that returned to many Ukrainian roads last week showcase the success of Russia’s seeming effort to inflict as much pain on its western neighbour as possible.
The same queues appeared in the first panicked days after Russia’s Feb 24 invasion.
They subsided as Ukrainians began to cope with life in wartime.