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Spacious Homes Become Soldiers' Barracks In Pisky

The town of Pisky, near Donetsk, used to be home to some of the wealthier residents of eastern Ukraine. But as the Donbas region spiraled into conflict last year, rich and poor alike abandoned their homes. The larger houses, some worth millions of dollars, have now been appropriated by Ukrainian government forces. As they wait for the next clash with Russian-backed separatists, the troops sleep, train, and cook in the luxury mansions of the region's upper classes. (Photos by James Sprankle)


A soldier of the 93rd Brigade cooks his meal in a fireplace. Most of the soldiers don’t come from wealthy backgrounds themselves and enjoy living in expensive dwellings -- even if they're partly destroyed.
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A soldier of the 93rd Brigade cooks his meal in a fireplace. Most of the soldiers don’t come from wealthy backgrounds themselves and enjoy living in expensive dwellings -- even if they're partly destroyed.

A soldier nicknamed Wolf checks out a dirty swimming pool at a mansion in Pisky.
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A soldier nicknamed Wolf checks out a dirty swimming pool at a mansion in Pisky.

Soldiers spend their down time cleaning their weapons and reading in the library of a mansion.
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Soldiers spend their down time cleaning their weapons and reading in the library of a mansion.

A photo album left by a family who abandoned their house after fighting started around Donetsk
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A photo album left by a family who abandoned their house after fighting started around Donetsk

Soldiers of the 93rd Brigade watch as their comrades walk toward Pisky. Venturing outside of their temporary barracks means being exposed to shelling and machine-gun fire.
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Soldiers of the 93rd Brigade watch as their comrades walk toward Pisky. Venturing outside of their temporary barracks means being exposed to shelling and machine-gun fire.

A soldier nicknamed Casanova fires a grenade launcher toward separatist positions in Donetsk from the driveway of a house in Pisky.
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A soldier nicknamed Casanova fires a grenade launcher toward separatist positions in Donetsk from the driveway of a house in Pisky.

A soldier picks fruit off a tree while carrying supplies back to his unit’s house.
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A soldier picks fruit off a tree while carrying supplies back to his unit’s house.

Soldiers known as Dice and Habib hang out in the driveway of a four-story house.
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Soldiers known as Dice and Habib hang out in the driveway of a four-story house.

A young soldier from the 93rd Brigade plays a video game, Counter Strike, during a break.
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A young soldier from the 93rd Brigade plays a video game, Counter Strike, during a break.

Soldiers use a garage as a kitchen, dining room, and storage facility. 
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Soldiers use a garage as a kitchen, dining room, and storage facility. 

Dice pulls in a fishing line during a swimming trip outside of Pisky. 
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Dice pulls in a fishing line during a swimming trip outside of Pisky. 

Dan and Chemist, from the 93rd Brigade, walk toward their front line positions, where they will spend the next few hours observing enemy positions in Donetsk.
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Dan and Chemist, from the 93rd Brigade, walk toward their front line positions, where they will spend the next few hours observing enemy positions in Donetsk.

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