Vasyl, a 28-year-old lieutenant and paratrooper, who first joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a freshman of 20 in 2014, was killed by Russian forces on the Southern Front in Mykolaiv on 3 March. Joseph, a longtime family friend with a Cossack-style haircut, said it was intense as it took days for the army to recover his body and take it to Doleby. Vasyl’s coffin arrived closed. He was buried in a similar ceremony on March 9.
On March 13, Kirillo, 35, died in a barrage of Russian missiles that hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, a town 10 miles from the border with Poland that hosted US forces until last month.
After three weeks of heavy fighting, Russia’s all-out 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, city or village untouched by Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, the largest in Europe since World War II. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that more than 1,300 of his soldiers have been killed so far.
While there is still an end in sight, Zelensky said early Wednesday that negotiations with Moscow were beginning to “look more realistic”.
“However, time is still needed for decisions to be in Ukraine’s interest,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that some parts of a possible peace deal were close to being agreed with Kyiv, after it said it would discuss “neutrality”.
Kirillo’s funeral began on Tuesday morning in Lviv, where his body and the bodies of three other soldiers – Oleh Yeschen, Rostislav Romanchuk and Serhi Melnik – were brought in polished wooden coffins to the Baroque church of Saints Peter and Paul Garrison.
Hundreds of mourners gathered there to pay their respects took turns approaching and touching the boxes and placing large bouquets of flowers on top of them. And many made the sign of the cross, looked up, and muttered a prayer under their breath. Mothers embraced the chests holding their children while priests immersed them in holy water.