Ukraine’s announcement that at least 1,300 of its soldiers have been killed so far during the Russian invasion has been accompanied by an increasing public acknowledgment of the country’s losses.
Grim funeral processions have become an everyday sight, with images showing rows of flag-draped coffins being handed over to their funerals in cities including Lviv – with the historic garrison church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
While Ukrainian military officials late last week were refusing to reveal the extent of casualties in the country, the president’s announcement, Volodymyr ZelenskyOn Saturday, the estimated death toll seemed inevitable, as social media, including the country’s armed forces, increasingly honor the dead.
In the context of the short and brutal conflict, Ukrainian social media tracked a dismal change of attitude as the war progressed.
Where fliers once appeared noting how young volunteers gave up their jobs to go to war to defend their country, they were told in inspiring terms, some now come with a grim heap – how they went to fight and fell into a public reflection growing in mourning.
Among those in the second category was the Ukrainian actor-turned-soldier Pasha Lee, who was killed on March 6 during the Russian bombing of Irbin, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv.
The 33-year-old Lee, who served in one of Ukraine’s territorial defense units and worked as an actor, TV presenter and composer, was mourned on Facebook by fellow Ukrainian actor Anastasia Kasilova, who worked with Lee on the Provincial TV crime show.
“He was a good actor, TV presenter, colleague and friend,” Kasilova wrote of Lee. “Never forgive!”
Ukraine’s armed forces posted other death notices on their Twitter account, which include a simple photo with a candle affixed to it and brief details of their identity and how they died.
Among those who died was Inna Derosova, a field doctor who is the first woman to be awarded the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine and who has been widely immortalized.
Derosova was killed during the artillery attack on Okhtyrka on February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion, and was credited with saving more than 10 soldiers that day.
Ukraine’s public engagement with the fallen stands in stark contrast to the Kremlin’s restrictions on how Russian military families can bury the dead in a conflict that it refuses to publicly acknowledge and mourn.
Some families in Russia said that despite being informed of their sons’ deaths, they were told that the bodies would not be returned until the war was over.
“Amateur alcohol specialist. Writer. Food lover. Student. Communicator. Beer advocate.”