These trenches and bunkers, dug deep into the ground during eight years of bloody conflict in Donbass, shelter Ukrainian soldiers who have come under heavy fire from Moscow-backed separatists. , according to the Washington Post.
“There’s an enemy outpost not far from here,” said Andre, 23, a Ukrainian officer who commanded a unit in a defensive position within range of enemy rifles. It is only a matter of time before they send more troops.”
In fact, this scenario could very well have been for Andre and his unit as Russian forces launched a new attack that threatened to take Ukrainian positions in the disputed enclave.
Russia has now stated that its goal is to gain control of eastern and southern Ukraine. Therefore, experts assume 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 manage to advance deep into the Donbass, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers holed up in these front-line bunkers will be cut off from their supply lines. Ukrainian soldiers and commanders interviewed here by the Washington Post over the past few days say that if this happens, they will launch a heavy counterattack to find a way out.
“We are fighting for our country, our country,” said Volodymyr, a 22-year veteran of the Ukrainian army who is now fighting on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. called.
Post reporters visited four frontline positions along Ukraine’s eastern front near the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
They also walked almost 1 km towards the positions of Moscow-backed separatists to assess the state of hostilities in these key defense areas of Ukraine.
The Washington Post has been granted exclusive access to the forward positions of Ukrainian forces defending the Eastern Front on the condition that reporters do not identify or publish the exact locations of the units. Full names of soldiers interviewed.
Visiting the area, reporters saw Ukrainian positions being shelled 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 constantly have to dig deep here, expanding the network of Boogke and trenches.
“We rely on each other at the front. Everyone understands the task,” said Ukrainian officer Sergii, 44.
“If we lose in Donbass, the Russians will not stop. They will take the rest of Ukraine and Europe,” he added, returning to his duties.
If one 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 an accuracy of up to 5 km – is preferred by British units in the Donbass to the shorter-range American Javelins and the British NLAW.
“We’re grateful for what we’ve received from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the United States, but it’s a bit late,” said Andre, a unit commander.
“The enemy thought we were just kids, but we were actually armed with Stugnas, Javelins and NLAWS. We are prepared and trained for this war,” said Vadim, 22, an officer overseeing units in the region.
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 a seemingly 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 we’re not going anywhere,” explains Vadim.
Vadim was trained in the latest NATO military tactics and participated in multinational military exercises. He belongs to a new generation of professional Ukrainian officers trained and educated by NATO.
Ukrainian soldiers told the Washington Post that fighting in the area was almost constant.
Enemy reconnaissance units are regularly scanning their positions for weak points, looking for future avenues of attack 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,” said Vadim.
On the front line, just a few kilometers from the fierce fighting in the town of Popasana, where the Russian army has recently made significant advances, a number of abandoned buildings are being used by Ukrainian forces. for shelter.
“The enemy is closing in on the defensive positions we’ve held for the past eight years,” said the unit commander, who spent most of his 12-year military career fighting local separatists. closer every day”.
Despite the constant intense fighting, the soldiers’ morale here remained upbeat and strong. As 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, smeared with grease, bent over the engine cover of a T-64 tank damaged by mortar fire, still maintaining the spirits. Good.
“We are black and dirty. But when the war is over, we’ll be clean,” stressed one soldier.