- Reports of atrocities poured out of Bucha, Ukraine, after Russia retreated from areas near Kyiv.
- A new Reuters report identifies soldiers and military units that were in Bucha before the retreat.
- One soldier was identified because a love letter addressed to him was left behind in a civilian home.
A Russian soldier in Bucha while atrocities were committed left behind an identifying document: a handwritten love letter signed off with an imprint of a red lipstick kiss.
Reporters from Reuters spent weeks in Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian forces completed their retreat from the areas around Kyiv last month. The report, published Thursday, includes new details about what happened in Bucha based on interviews with nearly 100 residents, documents left behind by Russian forces, and photo and video evidence.
One Bucha resident told the outlet he discovered the letter after returning home to find much of his house destroyed. It was in his living room among a pile of documents, including Ukrainian identity documents belonging to civilians the Russian soldiers had questioned or detained.
“It’s good you are close, close in my heart, but you are far, serving our Motherland, protecting us. I’m proud of you!” the letter said.
The kiss imprint was visible in a photo of the letter published by Reuters.
The letter was signed by Oksana Rybakova and addressed to Aleksandr Logvinenko, a Russian soldier the outlet later identified as a paratrooper.
Reuters contacted Rybakova, located in Russia’s Pskov region, who said Logvinenko was her partner, though she later retracted the claim. Two people who knew the couple also confirmed their relationship to the outlet.
Reports of atrocities and potential war crimes poured out of Bucha after the Russian retreat, including the killing and rape of civilians as well as the discovery of mass graves, prompting calls for an international investigation.
The outlet identified specific soldiers and military units that were in Bucha and linked some to specific acts of violence against unarmed civilians. Russia has dismissed reports of atrocities in Bucha and claimed the accounts are fake.
Another Russian soldier was identified by the outlet after spray-painting his social media handle on the walls of a house close to where the letter was found.