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On the Donbass ‘line of fire’, Ukrainian soldiers braced themselves to respond to Russia’s stormy attack

Reportage on the Donbass 'line of fire', Ukrainian soldiers braced themselves to respond to Russia's stormy attack - Photo 1.

A Ukrainian soldier fighting in the Donbass rests in a trench. Photo IT

Dig deep into the ground during eight years of bloody conflict in the Donbass, these trenches and bunkers shelter Ukrainian soldiers who have come under intense shelling from Moscow-backed separatists. , according to The Washington Post.

“Not far from here is an enemy outpost,” said Andre, 23, a Ukrainian officer who commanded a unit at a defensive position within range of enemy rifles. It’s only a matter of time before they send in more of their forces.”

In fact, that scenario may well have been for Andre and his unit, as Russian forces launched a new onslaught threatening to take Ukrainian positions in the disputed enclave.

Russia has stated its goal now is to gain control over eastern and southern Ukraine. That makes experts predict that the war in Donbass will be extremely fierce and will determine the outcome of the entire conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

If the Russians succeed in advancing deep into the Donbass, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers like those entrenched in these frontline bunkers will be cut off from their supply lines. Ukrainian soldiers and commanders interviewed here by The Washington Post in recent days say that if that happens, they will launch a fierce counterattack to find a way out.

“We are fighting for our land, our country,” said Volodymyr, a 22-year veteran of the Ukrainian army and now fighting in a frontline boogke in eastern Ukraine. said.

The Post’s reporters visited four frontline positions along Ukraine’s eastern front near the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

They also walked towards the positions of the Moscow-backed separatists for nearly 1km to assess the situation of hostilities in these key defensive areas of Ukraine.

The Washington Post has been granted exclusive access to the forward positions of Ukrainian forces defending the eastern front, on condition that reporters do not identify the specific locations of the units or make them public. Full names of soldiers interviewed.

While visiting the area, reporters witnessed Ukrainian positions coming under fire from areas controlled by separatists and Russia.

The loud bang of exploding projectiles followed by a raging fire was a constant here.

In addition to combat missions, Ukrainian soldiers here must constantly dig deep and expand the network of boogke and trenches.

“On the front lines, we rely on each other. Everyone understands the task,” said Ukrainian officer Sergii, 44.

“If we lose in the Donbass, the Russians will not stop. They will take the rest of Ukraine, of Europe,” he added, returning to his duties.

Reportage on the Donbass 'line of fire', Ukrainian soldiers braced themselves to respond to Russia's stormy attack - Photo 2.

A Ukrainian soldier fighting in the Donbass diligently dug trenches. Photo IT

If any of the enemy tanks tried to break through the perimeter of their defenses, a Ukrainian-made Stugna anti-tank missile would be waiting for them.

The system – capable of firing with accuracy up to 5km – is preferred by UKraine units in the Donbass to the shorter-range American Javelins and British NLAW.

“We are grateful for what we have received from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the United States, but it is a bit late,” said Andre, commander of one unit.

“The enemy thought we were just kids but we were actually armed with Stugnas, Javelins and NLAWS. We are prepared, trained for this war,” said Vadim, 22, an officer overseeing units in the area.

Around the fortifications, Ukrainian artillery units moved continuously in their defenses, firing a carefully calculated number of shots at pre-selected enemy positions.

Against an opponent with an almost endless supply of weapons, ammunition and artillery are valuable commodities for the Ukrainian army.

“We have to remind the other side that we are here and not going anywhere,” explains Vadim.

Vadim has been trained in the latest NATO military tactics and participated in multinational military exercises. He is part of a new generation of professional Ukrainian officers trained and trained by NATO.

Ukrainian soldiers told The Washington Post that fighting in the area was almost constant.

Enemy reconnaissance units regularly probe their positions for weaknesses, look for future attack paths to penetrate their defenses, and Ukrainian soldiers will open fire to repel them.

“The enemy continues to try to advance towards our positions; We opened fire, they kept coming,” Vadim said.

In a front-line position, a few kilometers from the fierce fighting in the town of Popasana, where the Russian army has made significant advances recently, a series of abandoned buildings are used by Ukrainian forces. for shelter.

“The defensive positions we have held for the past eight years, the enemy is approaching,” said the commander of a unit, who has fought local separatists for most of his 12-year military career. closer every day”.

Despite the constant intense fighting, the morale of the soldiers here remained optimistic and strong. When the conflict entered its third month, most of Ukraine’s frontline positions were still withstanding a series of fierce Russian attacks.

In a makeshift military equipment repair shop, a group of Ukrainian soldiers, covered in grease, hunched over the engine cover of a T-64 tank damaged by mortar fire, still keeping their spirits up. good.

“We are black and dirty. But when the war is over, we will be clean,” emphasized one soldier.

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