Ukrainians find devastation where Russians retreat.

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KAMIANKA, Ukraine — Little moved in the village of Kamianka, except for a cat bolting from under the rubble of a destroyed house and metal roofing banging in the wind.

Serhii, a livestock farmer, sat slumped beside the burned ruins of his home.

“I came here in case I could find anything and to clear up a bit,” he said. “But there is nothing,” he said, gesturing with a sweep of his arm at the wreckage.

The scale of the destruction is staggering across hundreds of towns and villages recently vacated by Russian troops in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine. The few residents who have traveled back into the war zone to check on their property, like Serhii and his wife, Iryna, often stand speechless with dismay before the devastation.

Throughout Ukraine, the war had destroyed or damaged about 120,000 houses and 16,000 apartment buildings by the end of September, according to the Kyiv School of Economics, which estimated overall physical damage at $127 billion. The World Bank, the European Union and the Ukrainian government have estimated recovery costs at about $350 billion.

For months Kamianka, which lies on a main highway, marked the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and not a single building in the village escaped damage. Russian troops retreated last month in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, leaving the village littered with unused Russian shells and mines, its wooden church burned to the ground, its school with gaping holes in its walls.


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