Six-year-old Zlata is shown wearing a bulletproof vest in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in a picture which starkly illustrates the ongoing threat to civilians as Vladimir Putin’s war approaches the ten-month mark. Medical workers today fitted the little girl with the protective equipment, produced by Lviv Defence Cluster (LDC).
Volunteers handed a total of more than 100 bulletproof vests for adults, and 20 smaller sized ones for children which will be used during their evacuation from dangerous areas.
Kharkiv and surrounding districts have been the target of heavy Russian shelling since Putin ordered his invasion on February 24.
Russian troops pulled back from the city in May after the Battle of Kharkiv.
At the start of September, the Ukrainian army pushed Russian forces from occupied territory in the country’s northeast in a series of counterattacks.
However, the danger remains, with Russian forces continuing to pepper the region with artillery fire.
A statement carried on LDC’s website says it “unites specialists of defence enterprises, volunteers, and production facilities from all over the country in order to provide the Defenders of Ukraine with high-quality and tested bulletproof vests. It has its own laboratory for testing ready-made products”.
It adds: “In addition to bulletproof vests, we also manufacture other tactical equipment, develop devices and means for demining, and carry out re-equipment of civilian vehicles for military needs.
“LDC is designated by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine as the main coordinator of the volunteer movement for the production of bulletproof vests.
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“Our experts can test ready-made samples produced or purchased by other volunteers.”
Ukrainian authorities today said they had uncovered evidence indicating that children were tortured during Russian occupation.
Dymtro Lubinets, Ukraine’s human rights chief, said “torture chambers for children” who were accused of resisting Russian forces were discovered in recaptured areas of northeastern and southern Ukraine.
He said he witnessed two such sites in Balakliya, in the northeastern Kharkiv region, and spoke with one boy who said he was held for 90 days and cut with a knife, burned, and subjected to mock executions.
Mr Lubinets said: “I thought that the bottom could not be broken after Bucha, Irpin.
“But we really reached the bottom in Kherson.”