News From Ukraine: Russian military targets farmers like something out of a movie

We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine amid the ongoing war in the country. Today we get an inside look at a farm taken over by the Russian military, and the devastation faced by the displaced farmers.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

Six weeks ago, the Ukrainian army cleared Kherson city and most of the region from the Russian invaders. Together with thousands of Kherson residents, local farmers are returning home. Andriy Povod is one of them. His family’s farm was captured by the Russians in the very first days of the war. The Russian invaders lived and stored their equipment there.

“In early March, the Russian military started coming here. At first, they were searching, and then they moved in at last and put the guards face down on the ground. There were about 50 of them, they stayed here, based themselves, their machinery”.

Andriy shows his office, where until recently the Russians lived and ate meals.

You see, they lived here, they laid straw for sleeping. Here are their things, “Russian army” dry bags.

Since early March, the owners lost control of the company. Although Andriy and his father tried to go to the farm.

“When I was driving, I saw a shooter 20 meters away. We raised our hands to signal that we were unarmed. But they started shooting at our car. I turned the car around, but a machine gunner started shooting at us”.

And then the situation developed like in an action movie - Andriy was bleeding and escaping by car. His father had minor injuries, but Andriy was not so lucky.

I got shot in the neck, and in the arm. I was first in one hospital. Then in another. I had 4 surgeries.

The footage of the damaged car parked on the roadside was taken by local residents.

Andriy shows the car — it reminds of a sieve.

What did the owners see at the farm after the de-occupation? After the battles, the enterprise was destroyed. Russians stole some of the machinery, in particular, two 300-hp John Deere tractors. They stole almost all the grain.

It was a bumper crop year, the warehouses were filled to the brim.

Direct losses alone are estimated by the company at US $5 million. This excludes unharvested crops.

In one of the Russian propaganda videos, Andriy saw Russians harvesting crops using a harvester with their logo on it.

A mechanic named Ivan Sakhno points to another harvester, which he used to operate last year.

“I am looking at the combine I used to drive, and now it is burnt. Until recently I was driving it, repairing it, there were new spare parts. It was a good machine”

What to do next? Andriy says they continue calculating the losses.

“If we have our fields demined, we will take loans. In the spring we need to plant. Most likely, we will plant flax and mustard, in other words, profitable niche crops.”

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.