At the bottom of a muddy bank on the road out of Lyman, a Russian soldier lies on his side.
Flies buzz around the charred remains of his upper body, his limbs twisted into unnatural positions.
Behind him stretches dense woodland, now a graveyard for an unknown number of his former comrades.
The unnamed soldier was among hundreds of Russians who died as they made a last-ditch bid to escape the Lyman “cauldron”, leading to one of Moscow’s worst defeats of the war so far.
The recapture of the important Donetsk city last weekend, just a day after Vladimir Putin formally annexed the region, was a major blow for the Russian army – not just strategically, but also for its already low morale.
One Ukrainian military officer estimated that around 1,500 Russian soldiers were killed in the battle, although no official numbers have been released.
After a request for an orderly withdrawal was reportedly denied by Moscow, the troops died as they fled for their lives, abandoning Lyman so quickly that they left the bodies of their comrades to rot in the streets.
Those who stayed to fight were taken out by a rain of shells and missile fire. Some were shot in the forests.
From the state of the kit left behind, it looks like they knew they did not stand much of a chance.
As he walks through the debris of Russian uniforms and ready-to-eat meal packs scattered on the muddy road, bullets crunch under the feet of Lieutenant Illia Yevlash’s boots.
He bends down to pick one up – it has a manufacture date of 1983.
Evidence of the chaotic withdrawal is everywhere.
Lt. Yevlash points to the burnt-out carcasses of a column of Russian vehicles nearby, the vans and cars now nothing more than twisted lumps of white and amber-coloured metal.
“Nearly 10 Russian soldiers died here [while] running from our counter-offensive,” says Lt. Yevlash. “Our drone was watching them and then our artillery found them.”
Those soldiers were part of the Russian 20th Combined Arms army and Bars-13 troops from the Russian Guard who until just last week were occupying Lyman, a key railway hub used to resupply the Russian army in the Donbas.
Moscow took it back in May after weeks of grinding attrition.
But late last month, as Ukrainian forces completed a pincer movement around the city, taking village after village around the city, the Russians found themselves encircled.
Colonel Sirhiy Cherevatyi, who took part in the fight, told CBS News that the victory was down to strategy and Western-supplied weapons. “Artillery was very important,” Cherevatyi said. “American weapons and of course the [high mobility artillery rocket systems].”
Amid raging gun battles on Saturday morning, the Russians retreated to the eastern side of Lyman, toward Zarichny.
“Then, the b------- just evaporated,” a team leader of the Ukrainian airborne troops told the Wall Street Journal.
Since then the Ukrainians have been conducting foot patrols in the forests around Lyman, searching for any remaining survivors of similar ambushes.
On the roads, streams of Ukrainian military vehicles shuttle back and forth. Many are little more than ordinary cars painted camo green, but all bear a white cross painted or taped onto their windows.
A nod to the country’s famed semi-nomadic tribe, the Cossack cross has become such a symbol of resistance to the Russian invasion that some soldiers even paint one on their foreheads before heading into battle.
But for residents in Lyman itself, trouble lies closer to home.
“In our house there is no glass left, including none in our windows, and our wood-burning stove has been destroyed,” said an elderly woman standing in a line for loaves of bread and other humanitarian aid along with dozens of others.
After months of ferocious fighting, the city is barely liveable. Nearly every building has been damaged. Previously home to some 22,000 people, just 7,000 remain, according to Igor Ugnivenko, a local police chief. Most are old and did not want to leave behind their homes.
Mr Ugnivenko said Russian occupation forces made no attempt to repair electrical lines or restore running water, leaving residents fighting their own personal wars just to try to stay alive.
“I’m very glad to see Ukrainian defenders,” said one elderly man in the queue for aid.
But many people didn’t want to talk about the Ukrainian liberation or the Russian occupation – they just wanted to get out.
Winter is approaching in Ukraine, a bleak prospect without gas or windows. And few believe this latest development will lead to a lasting peace, given that Lyman has now changed hands four times since 2014. In the distance, the sounds of shelling can still be heard and the front line changes every day.
“I want to go to a place where there is no war, where I can develop normally, go study and all that,” said Illia, a 20-year-old man wearing a Shakhtar Donetsk football shirt. “I don’t care where I go, I just want to live calmly.”