‘War Is My Life': A Journey Along the Front Lines in Ukraine
by Nolan Peterson
SHCHASTYA, Ukraine—The late winter weather in Ukraine alternates among frigid, cool, snow, and rain—teasing the arrival of spring.
The 2-year-old war, which has ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing more than 10,000 and displacing more than 1 million, is as fickle as the weather—teasing the possibility of peace without ever achieving it.
Both sides of the conflict renewed their commitment to the cease-fire in September, reducing the scale and intensity of the Ukraine war to a shadow of what it was during the fall of 2014 and the first few months of 2015.
But the war is not over.
During a six-day period from Feb. 27 to March 3, this correspondent visited Ukrainian troops deployed at both the front line and the rear echelon, stretching from the southernmost extension of the front lines outside the city of Mariupol to the war’s northern limit near the town of Shchastya, outside the separatist-controlled city of Luhansk.
Along the front lines, Ukrainian troops are dug in and ready for combat.
As one soldier put it: “This is my life now.”
Combined Russian-separatist artillery, tank, mortar, and small arms attacks occur daily at hot spots near Donetsk, capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic, one of two breakaway territories.
“It’s like this every day,” John Slobodyan, 23, a soldier in the Ukrainian army’s 93rd Brigade, said. He spoke as the bass notes of artillery cut through the air at a Ukrainian outpost near the town of Karlivka, about six miles from Donetsk.
“There is no cease-fire,” Slobodyan said.
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