Accessibility links

Life In The Trenches On The Outskirts Of Donetsk

Two villages near the city of Donetsk, Avdiyivka and Pisky, are the scene of ongoing fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists. Both towns have been heavily damaged, and the fighters are suffering the impact of months or years of combat. RFE/RL journalists visited the front-line positions of the Ukrainian government forces in both locations.

A Ukrainian soldier points toward the zone of combat in an industrial area near Avdiyivka, just north of Donetsk. 
1

A Ukrainian soldier points toward the zone of combat in an industrial area near Avdiyivka, just north of Donetsk. 

Ukrainian soldiers have dug trenches and tunnels in the Promka industrial zone. The Russia-backed separatists have also dug in to their positions on the other side of the front lines.   
2

Ukrainian soldiers have dug trenches and tunnels in the Promka industrial zone. The Russia-backed separatists have also dug in to their positions on the other side of the front lines. 
 

Journalists run for cover with Ukrainian government forces, anticipating the start of shelling. 
3

Journalists run for cover with Ukrainian government forces, anticipating the start of shelling. 

Ukrainian soldiers taking a break
4

Ukrainian soldiers taking a break

Dmytro, a 21-year-old soldier
5

Dmytro, a 21-year-old soldier

A soldier stands with a machine gun some 100 meters from enemy positions.
6

A soldier stands with a machine gun some 100 meters from enemy positions.

Grenades are kept close at hand.
7

Grenades are kept close at hand.

The inside of one of the Ukrainian troops' shelters
8

The inside of one of the Ukrainian troops' shelters

9
Ukrainian soldiers make their way past damaged buildings in Avdiyivka. 
10

Ukrainian soldiers make their way past damaged buildings in Avdiyivka. 

Just a few kilometers from Avdiyivka is the village of Pisky, largely destroyed by ongoing fighting. 
11

Just a few kilometers from Avdiyivka is the village of Pisky, largely destroyed by ongoing fighting. 

A 22-year-old fighter nicknamed Pixel chops firewood -- the only available source of heating. The forces rely on generators for electricity. 
12

A 22-year-old fighter nicknamed Pixel chops firewood -- the only available source of heating. The forces rely on generators for electricity. 

Nearly every house in Pisky has been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. 
13

Nearly every house in Pisky has been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. 

Ukrainian soldiers nicknamed Сoyote and Bek talk in an underground shelter. 
14

Ukrainian soldiers nicknamed Сoyote and Bek talk in an underground shelter. 

Painted hand grenades are used as decoration.
15

Painted hand grenades are used as decoration.

Daryna, 23, has been fighting since 2014 -- first as a volunteer, then as a soldier in the Ukrainian Army. Her 6-year-old daughter is waiting for her at home.
16

Daryna, 23, has been fighting since 2014 -- first as a volunteer, then as a soldier in the Ukrainian Army. Her 6-year-old daughter is waiting for her at home.

A wood-fired stove provides hot water in this bathroom used by the soldiers.
17

A wood-fired stove provides hot water in this bathroom used by the soldiers.

Coyote reads an inscription on the body armor belonging to a soldier called Pharaoh: "I live in my God-given land. Everything will be 4.5.0." The military slang means "Everything will be fine."
18

Coyote reads an inscription on the body armor belonging to a soldier called Pharaoh: "I live in my God-given land. Everything will be 4.5.0." The military slang means "Everything will be fine."

Spent munitions litter the ground throughout Pisky. 
19

Spent munitions litter the ground throughout Pisky. 

A Ukrainian flag hangs on the bell tower of a church in the middle of Pisky.
20

A Ukrainian flag hangs on the bell tower of a church in the middle of Pisky.

XS
SM
MD
LG