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Avdiyivka: Eastern Ukraine's Latest Flash Point

The shaky cease-fire between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops appears to have fallen apart around the small industrial town of Avdiyivka. In recent weeks, battles have erupted around the strategically important crossroads in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region. European observers have reported the “highest level of cease-fire violations” since September 2015, with deaths reported on both sides. On April 2, photographer Maxim Tucker entered the area and spent a week documenting villages shattered by a conflict that is now entering its third year.


Damage from artillery shells in Avdiyivka. An elderly woman was reportedly killed outside this house while she tended her vegetable patch. April 9, 2016
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Damage from artillery shells in Avdiyivka. An elderly woman was reportedly killed outside this house while she tended her vegetable patch. April 9, 2016

A Ukrainian sergeant shows rounds from a high-powered sniper rifle that were pulled out of the buildings and sandbags around his squad's position. April 9, 2016
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A Ukrainian sergeant shows rounds from a high-powered sniper rifle that were pulled out of the buildings and sandbags around his squad's position. April 9, 2016

A Ukrainian antiaircraft gun on its way to reinforce Ukrainian troops on the front line in Avdiyivka's old town. April 9, 2016
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A Ukrainian antiaircraft gun on its way to reinforce Ukrainian troops on the front line in Avdiyivka's old town. April 9, 2016

Smoke plumes rise after an artillery strike on Ukrainian positions in Avdiyivka's industrial area, known as the "Promzona." Photographer Maxim Tucker says Russia-backed separatist forces are seeking to drive Kyiv's troops from positions overlooking a strategic crossroads. Ukraine says seven of its soldiers have been killed in the fighting in the past month. It claimed to have killed nine separatists encroaching on its positions on April 2. April 7, 2016
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Smoke plumes rise after an artillery strike on Ukrainian positions in Avdiyivka's industrial area, known as the "Promzona." Photographer Maxim Tucker says Russia-backed separatist forces are seeking to drive Kyiv's troops from positions overlooking a strategic crossroads. Ukraine says seven of its soldiers have been killed in the fighting in the past month. It claimed to have killed nine separatists encroaching on its positions on April 2. April 7, 2016

Lieutenant Naumov of Ukraine's 58th Mechanized Brigade enters the wreckage of an apartment destroyed by a tank round in Avdiyivka's besieged industrial area. April 7, 2016
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Lieutenant Naumov of Ukraine's 58th Mechanized Brigade enters the wreckage of an apartment destroyed by a tank round in Avdiyivka's besieged industrial area. April 7, 2016

A damaged apartment block in Avdiyivka. Ukrainian soldiers say a separatist tank fired 40 rounds into this residential building. April 7, 2016
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A damaged apartment block in Avdiyivka. Ukrainian soldiers say a separatist tank fired 40 rounds into this residential building. April 7, 2016

Luda, a 27-year-old midwife, now finds herself removing shrapnel from soldiers' bloodied limbs instead of delivering babies. “How many wounded have I treated? Enough not to be able to count,” she said during a break from tending to casualties. “I feel bad for the boys, of course, but there’s no time to think, really. When I see a wounded soldier, I do my job.” April 7, 2016
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Luda, a 27-year-old midwife, now finds herself removing shrapnel from soldiers' bloodied limbs instead of delivering babies. “How many wounded have I treated? Enough not to be able to count,” she said during a break from tending to casualties. “I feel bad for the boys, of course, but there’s no time to think, really. When I see a wounded soldier, I do my job.” April 7, 2016

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to board an army truck heading for the front lines in Avdiyivka’s industrial area, where the heaviest fighting is taking place. The Ukrainian Army has imposed a lockdown on the area, preventing all civilian access. April 7, 2016
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Ukrainian soldiers prepare to board an army truck heading for the front lines in Avdiyivka’s industrial area, where the heaviest fighting is taking place. The Ukrainian Army has imposed a lockdown on the area, preventing all civilian access. April 7, 2016

 A view of separatist positions from a heavy machine-gun emplacement in the town of Mariyinka, 27 kilometers south of Avdiyivka. Tucker says advances by the two sides have brought them as close as 300 meters to each other. Ukraine's 14th Mechanized Brigade, stationed in Mariyinka, comes under nightly fire from rocket-propelled grenades, snipers, and machine guns. April 4, 2016
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 A view of separatist positions from a heavy machine-gun emplacement in the town of Mariyinka, 27 kilometers south of Avdiyivka. Tucker says advances by the two sides have brought them as close as 300 meters to each other. Ukraine's 14th Mechanized Brigade, stationed in Mariyinka, comes under nightly fire from rocket-propelled grenades, snipers, and machine guns. April 4, 2016

Viktor (left) and Vova take a break from the fighting at a command post in Pisky. Viktor has been fighting for less than a month, while Vova is expecting demobilization after serving a 14-month tour.  April 3, 2016
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Viktor (left) and Vova take a break from the fighting at a command post in Pisky. Viktor has been fighting for less than a month, while Vova is expecting demobilization after serving a 14-month tour.  April 3, 2016

Ukrainian troops watch shells land on Avdiyivka from a machine-gun emplacement in Pisky, on the battle's southern flank. April 3, 2016
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Ukrainian troops watch shells land on Avdiyivka from a machine-gun emplacement in Pisky, on the battle's southern flank. April 3, 2016

A child's toy lies amid the ruins of Pisky, a village overlooking both Avdiyivka and the shattered remains of Donetsk airport. Ukrainian positions here come under fire on a regular basis, but the fighting has escalated as the battle for Avdiyivka intensifies. April 3, 2016
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A child's toy lies amid the ruins of Pisky, a village overlooking both Avdiyivka and the shattered remains of Donetsk airport. Ukrainian positions here come under fire on a regular basis, but the fighting has escalated as the battle for Avdiyivka intensifies. April 3, 2016

A woman collects possessions from an abandoned apartment block half destroyed by artillery fire in Pisky. April 3, 2016
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A woman collects possessions from an abandoned apartment block half destroyed by artillery fire in Pisky. April 3, 2016

Officers get an update on clashes and enemy activity during a briefing at a command post in Pisky, eight kilometers from Avdiyivka on the southern flank of the battle. April 2, 2016
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Officers get an update on clashes and enemy activity during a briefing at a command post in Pisky, eight kilometers from Avdiyivka on the southern flank of the battle. April 2, 2016

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