Accessibility links

Three Weeks With The Donbas Battalion

The Donbas Battalion, a volunteer unit of Ukraine's National Guard, was caught in a recent standoff with Russian-backed separatists in the Shyrokyne region, near the strategic port city of Mariupol.

The battalion has since rotated out of the area, where regular army units have taken over as Ukraine's leaders discuss a demilitarization plan. During the height of the fighting, a freelance photographer, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, spent three weeks embedded with the battalion. From his vantage point on the front lines, the photographer captured scenes of trench warfare, raids, shelling, and soldiers' total exhaustion in the midst of the conflict.

Volunteer soldiers of the Ukrainian National Guard's Special Forces get ready for a nighttime raid.
1

Volunteer soldiers of the Ukrainian National Guard's Special Forces get ready for a nighttime raid.

Soldiers prepare for a raid on enemy positions.
2

Soldiers prepare for a raid on enemy positions.

Snipers take part in target practice.
3

Snipers take part in target practice.

A senior officer known as Colonel Tikhi takes up his position.
4

A senior officer known as Colonel Tikhi takes up his position.

Following an attack by pro-Russian separatists, soldiers pick up their weapons to return to the front lines.
5

Following an attack by pro-Russian separatists, soldiers pick up their weapons to return to the front lines.

6
7
8
A house burns as fighting flares.
9

A house burns as fighting flares.

Serhiy, a group commander, stands by the ruins of a former sanatorium destroyed in the fighting. The soldiers use the shell of the building for shelter.
10

Serhiy, a group commander, stands by the ruins of a former sanatorium destroyed in the fighting. The soldiers use the shell of the building for shelter.

11
Colonel Gal, the commander of the Donbas Battalion, addresses soldiers at the morning roll-call.
12

Colonel Gal, the commander of the Donbas Battalion, addresses soldiers at the morning roll-call.

13
14
Kirill Nekrasov, an ethnic Russian, is a group commander in the Donbas Battalion.
15

Kirill Nekrasov, an ethnic Russian, is a group commander in the Donbas Battalion.

A soldier code-named "Gunter" engages in battle.
16

A soldier code-named "Gunter" engages in battle.

An exhausted fighter rests between clashes.
17

An exhausted fighter rests between clashes.

A machine-gunner loads ammunition.
18

A machine-gunner loads ammunition.

19
XS
SM
MD
LG