IRPIN, Ukraine — The bodies of Russian soldiers were scattered by the wreckage of charred military vehicles and shelled buildings. Twenty feet away, behind tanker trucks, Ukrainian volunteers stood watch, their eyes on a cement mixer about 500 yards away. Behind it were Russian troops on the edges of Bucha, the next town over.
This front line in Irpin, on Kyiv’s northwest outskirts, had not moved in two weeks despite the Russian military superiority. That itself was a victory for Commander Casper and his fighters.
“The Russians were trying to push forward,” said the short, burly unit leader who did not give his full name for security reasons but goes by a nom de guerre. “But they didn’t expect that the Ukrainians were waiting for them.”