Ukraine invasion: Survivors in Bucha grapple with new reality, describe how they fought Russian soldiers head-on

Thousands of residents in the war-torn city of Bucha in Ukraine are searching for a pulse on their old lives as they grapple with their new reality.

Fighting in the city made up some of the most intense battles for the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after the Russians captured parts of Bucha within days of invading the country. They occupied the area until Ukrainian fighters drove them out in April.

For Bucha resident Sergei, the house he and his wife built together, the place his daughter would play, and where together they would sit in the sunshine became a wartime base for the very people who turned the city into a black hole of death. 

"I will know how I feel when the war is over and we have won. We will kick the Russians out," he told Newshub.

He points out the bullet holes - of which there are many. He shows where the shrapnel hit and he tells of the day he hid with his family as the Russians started shooting blindly at their home.

They escaped, and his wife and daughter have since been taken in by a stranger in France - their guardian angel. 

And they had one in Bucha too. By the time the Russians started shelling nearby houses, Sergei and his family were safely out of there, but five of his neighbours have died

More than 400 lives were lost in Bucha, a place now synonymous with war crimes.

Sergei said that while everyone talks of the genocide that happened there, he adds that the Ukrainians shut down the first Russian air assault troops to land in the country, saving Kyiv from capture.

He wants the world to remember the heroes of his hometown, not just the harrowing headlines. 

Sergei at his home in Bucha.
Sergei at his home in Bucha. Photo credit: Newshub.

Twenty minutes down the road from Bucha is the lesser-known town of Moschun, a place where it's hard to find a home that hasn't been flattened by war. 

Russian forces captured the village soon after they stormed in from Belarus.

The incessant bombing has left behind a mess of bricks and belongings - a disordered footprint of the town that once was.

Ukrainians showed Newshub through the paddocks of pain and explained how they grabbed their guns and bikes and fought the Russians there head-on.

They recaptured the town, but intense clashes only compounded the death and destruction. 

Russian belongings are everywhere: food rations, leftovers, frying pans, and clothes are scattered everywhere.

It's just a small village but the loss seems insurmountable. It's estimated that $60 million worth of damage has been caused - but some things you can't put a price on.

Bucha resident Luganiva was evacuated through a green corridor. When she returned, the place she had called home for 70 years was gone.

"I thought I would grow old here peacefully," she said.

"I'm too old for crying... I just walk around looking for somewhere to spend the night."

In these towns on the outskirts of Kyiv, most refuse to refer to them as Russians, only calling them orcs - because there is no humanity in this.