Life on Ukraine’s front line: ‘Worse than hell’ as Russia advances

Life on Ukraine’s front line: ‘Worse than hell’ as Russia advances

Reuters reports:

The artillery fire begins just before dawn. A soldier steps into a darkened trench and lights a cigarette, carefully cupping the flame with his free hand. A boom and crackle of outgoing fire sound in the distance.

Viktor, the infantryman, ducks his head under a canopy of camouflage netting and looks up at the brightening sky. The incessant buzz of a drone sounds overhead, moving a dozen meters from one end of the trench to linger just above him.

Viktor swallows. A moment later, the buzzing sound moves on.

“One of ours,” the 37-year-old soldier says, bringing the cigarette back up to his lips.

The sun finally rises and the noise of war picks up. For weeks, Viktor has barely slept as Russian drones and artillery continually target his position. During the day, he watches for any attempts by Russian troops to cross a minefield that separates the two sides. At night, he picks up a shovel to dig and fortify his trench.

“They’re constantly firing, constantly probing,” he says. “We have to survive somehow and we have to hold the line.”

It is the start of another draining day on Ukraine’s eastern front line. Monitoring his scratchy radio, Viktor will try to move as little as possible in a trench less than 800 meters from where Russian soldiers are amassed. For seven months, Viktor’s unit has held this sector of the front, repelling a relentless onslaught of Russian assaults.

Now in the third year of full-scale war, Ukraine’s top military leaders openly admit that the battlefield situation on the eastern front has deteriorated. Two years of war have sapped Ukraine’s ammunition and manpower, while the country’s failed counter-offensive last year sank morale. [Continue reading…]

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