Hours after Aleksei Agafonov arrived in the Luhansk region on 1 November as part of a battalion of new conscripts, his unit were handed shovels and ordered to dig trenches throughout the night.
Their digging, which they took turns to do because of the lack of available shovels, was abruptly interrupted in the early hours of the next day as Ukrainian artillery lit up the sky and shells started raining down on Agafonov and his unit.
“A Ukrainian drone first flew over us, and after that their artillery started to pound us for hours and hours, nonstop,” Agafonov, who survived the shelling, told the Guardian in a phone interview on Monday.
“I saw men being ripped apart in front of me, most of our unit is gone, destroyed. It was hell,” he said, adding that his unit’s commanders abandoned them just before the shelling started.
Agafonov was called up on 16 October alongside 570 other conscripts in Voronezh, a city in the south-west of Russia, as part of Vladimir Putin’s nationwide mobilisation push that has seen more than 300,000 men drafted to go and fight in a war that the Kremlin calls its “special military operation”. [Continue reading…]