It just goes on and on, and I don’t know why I’m not immune, desensitised to the inevitable horror of it by now.
Why I still can’t believe that anyone could post on twitter a photograph of a dead Ukrainian soldier in Donetsk airport; not just of a dead soldier but, from his wallet, the ‘photo of the three daughters he’ll never see again’. Three daughters. Those are real people, those girls; not dead, not fighting a war, not anyone’s idea of an enemy. Is that tweet the last they will see of their father?
(I’m not putting a link to it, it’s too disgusting.)
Why I can’t believe anyone would parade Ukrainian soldiers captured at the airport to see a blood-filled trolleybus in Donetsk, eight dead people there, or thirteen, just now, they just died just now in a bomb/mortar/who knows what attack – and encourage survivors and witnesses to attack the PoWs.
I can’t believe it, even though I knew it would happen. I can’t believe that people want this war to continue, but they do, they must do, to behave like this. They want to forget that they are all the same, all flesh and blood, could all die like this, would never in a million years want their own children to become war propaganda.
You did it. No, you did it. No you did it so it would look like we did it. That argument, over the bodies of yet more nameless people with children they’ll never see again.
Back in Autumn, when it looked like Donetsk airport might fall to the (pro) Russians, a young Ukrainian ex-student fighting there (I forget where he was from, Kyiv maybe, somewhere a way away from Donetsk) told a journalist “We’ve got to keep fighting for it, we can’t give it up, too many have died for it already.”
An ex-miner from Makiivka near Donetsk, leading a division fighting at the airport on the other side, couldn’t explain why 70 percent of his division were from Russia. I asked him why his side needed Russians – why weren’t locals fighting there? He said, “When I was on leave a month ago I went out in the evening in Makiivka. There were mountains of guys on the streets. I asked ‘Why aren’t you with the militants? Why aren’t you fighting?”
The miner, arm in a sling, cigarette dropping ash everywhere, looked at me in amazement. “They said ‘There are enough there already’. Can you imagine? And they are out drinking, with girls…”
He told me about his daughter living in Kyiv with her boyfriend. In Kyiv, where the government sends soldiers to Donetsk airport and the yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag flies everywhere. Isn’t Kyiv enemy country? “If anyone insults her there, I’ll come to Kyiv myself and tear them limb from limb,” he said.
I reckon his daughter and that Ukrainian student fighting at the airport on the other side would be about the same age. It would neaten my story if he was from Kyiv, but I can’t remember, and this isn’t a story.
I don’t know if they’re dead by now, the ex-miner and the ex-student; their corpses on twitter. If they felt they had to die because no one else was stupid enough to, or because so many others had died there. At the time, I thought, what stupid reasons.
In Donetsk now, these are the reasons for this war. That’s why photos of dead soldiers and their daughters are posted online, that’s why the PoWs are paraded. So that there are more deaths for more deaths, and we all forget our humanity.