The Battle of Irpin

On the day the Russians invaded Ukraine, Patol Moshevitz, a landscape architect and painter, woke early and looked out the window of his apartment on the fourteenth floor of one of the newest, most desirable buildings in the city of Irpin. He could see for miles in almost every direction: Kyiv, Bucha, most of Irpin, and the Hostomel airfield just across the marsh to the north. A big bear of a man with a shaved head, he saw a swarm of Russian helicopters descending on the airport. The noise was deafening even where he was, and a dark plume of smoke rose on the horizon.  Moshevitz dressed hurriedly and went into town, hoping to sign up with a Territorial Defense unit and fight alongside the regular army. But the recruitment center was swamped with volunteers, and there were no guns, so he went back to his apartment. “I decided to help in my own way,” he told me later. He spent the next nine days in his crow’s-nest flat observing the region with binoculars and providing detailed reports on enemy positions — approaching tanks, gun placements, checkpoints, and other vital information — to the fighters defending Irpin. I met Moshevitz in early June, eight weeks after the battle of Irpin. We sat in his apartment, subsequently shelled and now partially restored, as he narrated the month-long fight, using a spoon to point out strategic locations on a map I pulled up on my iPad. If he had been found and caught, he understood by then, he would almost surely have been tortured and shot. At the time, he didn’t stop to think. “I was caught up in the moment,” he said. “It seemed like a game — the little tanks and armored vehicles seemed so far away. I can’t call

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