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Ukraine's Frontline Soldiers Prepare For Winter

Ukraine's 24th Mechanized Brigade is stationed at a checkpoint on the front line of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. By keeping chickens on site for fresh eggs, cooking for themselves, exercising, and praying in a chapel, the soldiers do their best to live normally while protecting against attacks from Russian-backed separatists. Some of the Ukrainian soldiers have been on the front line for eight months and can’t wait to get back home for Christmas. Thanks to some volunteers, the soldiers are provided with warm winter clothing and food. More than 9,000 people have been killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine since March 2014. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Filip Warwick)


A sign warns about mines on the land ahead. This is the furthest point of the 29th checkpoint along the front line.
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A sign warns about mines on the land ahead. This is the furthest point of the 29th checkpoint along the front line.

A Ukrainian soldier known as Lysy says there are some Russian-backed separatist reconnaissance units wandering around the front line.
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A Ukrainian soldier known as Lysy says there are some Russian-backed separatist reconnaissance units wandering around the front line.

A separatist flag can be seen flying about 500 meters in the distance.  
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A separatist flag can be seen flying about 500 meters in the distance.  

The Ukrainian soldiers have a variety of homemade equipment to keep themselves in shape.
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The Ukrainian soldiers have a variety of homemade equipment to keep themselves in shape.

The chickens -- providers of fresh eggs -- walk around the trenches and live in small tents built by the soldiers.
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The chickens -- providers of fresh eggs -- walk around the trenches and live in small tents built by the soldiers.

The soldiers have even built a small chapel for moments of prayer and reflection.
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The soldiers have even built a small chapel for moments of prayer and reflection.

Far below the bunker, a wood-heated stove provides warmth and boils water for tea and coffee.
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Far below the bunker, a wood-heated stove provides warmth and boils water for tea and coffee.

Soldiers clean a chainsaw used to cut the wood needed for cooking and heating.
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Soldiers clean a chainsaw used to cut the wood needed for cooking and heating.

A soldier has made himself buns soaked in egg yolk for lunch. The buns are are heated over a wood-burning stove after being soaked.
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A soldier has made himself buns soaked in egg yolk for lunch. The buns are are heated over a wood-burning stove after being soaked.

An icon in the chapel.
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An icon in the chapel.

Whether sun, rain, or snow, volunteers reach out to the Ukrainian soldiers who are in far away frontline posts. Roads are often in poor and muddy conditions and it can take two or three trips to deliver all of the goods.  
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Whether sun, rain, or snow, volunteers reach out to the Ukrainian soldiers who are in far away frontline posts. Roads are often in poor and muddy conditions and it can take two or three trips to deliver all of the goods.
 

A representative from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry gave awards to the soldiers in the 24th Motorized Brigade for "exhibiting courage and heroism."
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A representative from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry gave awards to the soldiers in the 24th Motorized Brigade for "exhibiting courage and heroism."

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