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Russian bombing burned alive livestock in Ukraine

#Russian #bombing #burned #alive #livestock #Ukraine

On a farm in northern Ukraine, a terrified-looking heifer has been limping since one of its hind legs was shredded by shrapnel in a Russian attack that has echoed on farms across the country since the war began.

The four-month-old survived bombings that killed around a third of the animals at the meat and milk factory in Mala Rogan, a village about 25 kilometers south of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

It was a “nightmare,” recalls owner Lyubov Zlobina, 62, who says she was “struck by the howls of cows burned alive” during the March 26 attacks.

“I’m clinging to this little miracle,” she said, referring to the injured heifer, with the distant bangs of grenades echoing in the background.

“I’ve given her antibiotics twice but unfortunately the wound is still weeping and not gaining weight,” she added.

“If we could remove the shard, maybe it would recover. For an operation we would have to take her very far away and we can’t do that,” said Zlobina, visibly upset.

In the first weeks of the war, Mala Rogan was captured by Russian forces. They have since been repulsed, leaving a battle-hardened hellscape in their wake.

Zlobina’s husband, who served in the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, showed AFP journalists several videos taken during the attacks.

“We ran out of the barn in all directions,” recalled Mykolai Zlobin, 57, describing how hay burst into flames in the barn. A calving cow had its head severed.

They had to tear down a section of wall with a tractor to get out the trapped cows while explosions fell around the panicked herd.

“I tried to save a few piglets, but their mothers protected them under their bellies,” Zlobina said. The hens, she said, cackled and pecked through the charge as if nothing had happened.

Yulia Koval, a 38-year-old farm worker, said part of a roof collapsed while trying to move calves out of a farm building.

“We couldn’t have done it because everything was collapsing around us. But we didn’t have time to think about it, she says. We just wanted to save her, that’s all.”

Since then, animals with serious injuries have had to be euthanized.

– ‘Attack the cattle’ –

The shed is now a burned out, rusted skeleton. Animals graze and ponder in the fields surrounding the farm, which, unlike many farmland in eastern Ukraine, do not appear to be mined.

For the youngest and most vulnerable animals, a hastily erected shelter offers some shelter, but a more robust alternative must be found for the winter.

Farms and agricultural land across Ukraine have been devastated by the war. Local media routinely report huge casualties caused by Russian shelling.

Government figures suggest that 15 percent of the country’s livestock have been killed since Russia invaded on February 24.

NGO Open Cages Ukraine said in a June report it expected the number of livestock killed during the conflict to be around 300,000 by the end of the year.

The two-hectare farm in Mala Rogan is also home to exhausted and starving stray dogs, abandoned by their owners fleeing Russia’s advance into towns in eastern Ukraine.

“Look at this injured ewe with her three lambs,” says Zlobina, pointing at her while trying to hide.

“She was attacked less than 24 hours ago.”

“First the dogs ate the corpses of abandoned Russian soldiers, and we sometimes found a foot or a hand on our land. Now they’re attacking the cattle,” she said.

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#Russian #bombing #burned #alive #livestock #Ukraine

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