(CNN) – Vladimir stands on the edge of a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, outside Kyiv. He takes his head in his hands and then raises them to the sky.
“Brother, we have been looking for you for a long time,” he said, sobbing. His brother Dmitry has been missing for about a week and neighbors have told Vladimir that he may be buried here.
“We thought you were alive,” shouts Vladimir.
Inside the tomb, the bodies were stacked on top of each other, mostly inside black bags, but some with bare ends. Some are just buried. CNN crew saw at least a dozen bodies in the mass grave, but the ground shows signs of recent movement, suggesting there may be more bodies below.
Kyiv regional police and local residents say they believe at least 150 people are buried in the mass grave, but Mayor Bucha says the death toll could be as high as 300. CNN was unable to independently verify his claims.
Vladimir recovers, reassured by his wife Anna and neighbor Lyubov, and then leaves. He says he thinks his brother is buried there, but the sad truth is that he can’t be sure, and may not know for a long time.
Residents say that the tomb, located behind the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho of All Saints, began excavations early in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and this was the death toll in this leafy suburb of Kyiv.
Maxar satellite images released on March 10 show that the trench has already been dug.
With the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area around Kiev, the atrocities of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine increasingly began to unfold. The death and devastation wrought by Russia’s war machine is on full display in Bucha, where corpses have been seen littering the suburb’s streets since Sunday. Some of them had their hands tied behind their backs.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russia for the deaths within the region, and accused Moscow of trying to wipe out his “entire nation.”
“It’s about annihilating and exterminating all these nationalities,” he said in an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
For its part, Russia denied any involvement, insisted that it was not targeting civilians, and said that the pictures of corpses in the streets of Bucha are false.
Within the region, the roads are littered with Russian armored vehicles, including tanks, mounted by drones or units with NATO-mounted rocket launchers such as Javelins and next-generation light anti-tank weapons systems, or NLAWs.
In some cases, entire columns of Russian armor were trapped in narrow residential streets before being destroyed.
“They thought they could drive through the streets and pass. They would be greeted as if it was a good idea to come here,” Valery Spiszek, an officer with the Ukrainian National Police, tells us. “Maybe they think it’s normal to drive around looting, destroy buildings, and make fun of people.”
“But our people did not allow that,” he adds.
Cars are now rusting where they were parked, a testament to the heavy losses Moscow incurred before being driven out of Kyiv’s suburbs.
The devastation extended to most of the surrounding buildings and other infrastructure, with very few homes left undamaged, most of them uninhabitable after the Russian attack on the capital.
The scene in Bucha is similar to what CNN has been able to see in other areas around Kyiv, including Irwin, Myla, Hostomel and even as far north as Bordyanka.
In the latter, the multi-storey buildings were completely flattened by artillery shells, as the Ukrainians and Russians fought for control of the area. Authorities say they fear there are bodies under the rubble, and it is still impossible to gauge the true number of dead.