Vasyl, a 28-year-old senior lieutenant and paratrooper who first joined Ukraine’s armed forces as a fresh-faced 20-year-old in 2014, was killed by Russian forces on the southern front in Mykolayiv on March 3. The fighting was so intense there that it took days for the army to recover his body and evacuate it to Duliby, said Josef, a longtime family friend with a Cossack-style haircut. Vasyl’s casket arrived sealed shut. He was buried in a similar ceremony on March 9.
On March 13, Kyrylo, 35, died amid a barrage of Russian missiles that struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security in Yavoriv, a town that sits 10 miles from the border with Poland and had hosted US troops until last month.
After three weeks of heavy fighting, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has intensified and spread across the country in recent days, with missiles and artillery pounding airports, military targets, and residential areas. There is almost no region, nor city, nor village, that remains untouched by Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, the largest in Europe since World War II. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that more than 1,300 of his soldiers have been killed so far.
While there is still no end in sight, Zelensky said early Wednesday that negotiations with Moscow were starting to “sound more realistic.”
“However, time is still needed for the decisions to be in Ukraine’s interests,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that some parts of a potential peace deal were close to being agreed with Kyiv after it said it would discuss “neutrality.”
The funeral for Kyrylo began Tuesday morning in Lviv, where his body and the bodies of three other soldiers – Oleh Yashchyshyn, Rostyslav Romanchuk, and Serhiy Melnyk – were brought in polished wooden caskets to the baroque Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church.
Hundreds of mourners who gathered there to pay their respects took turns approaching the caskets, touching them, and placing large bouquets of flowers atop them. Many made the sign of the cross, glanced upward, and mumbled prayers under their breath. Mothers hugged the boxes holding their boys as priests doused them in holy water.