Initially, Dima struggled to get used to the noise of war, to mingle with his warriors and dirty flies that relentlessly harass you day and night.
Today, deep in his trench, the young man says that all is well.
25 years old, honest and reassuring smile. His surname, Mauriac (sailor), was written on his clothes, as well as phrases commonly used for soldiers in times of war: “Born to hunt” (Born to hunt) or “Si vis pacem para bellum” (If you have peace want, prepared for war).
After being in the Sumy and Kharkiv (North) regions, Dima is at this position in the Izyum region, a front line northwest of Kramatorsk, the administrative center of Donbass, the eastern Ukraine region, which wanted to occupy Russian troops. full control over.
Since then he has been digging. Like everyone here. A ditch ten meters long, a labyrinth pierced in the black earth, where one cannot walk three meters without falling on a pickaxe or a shovel, while the sound of artillery fire resounds outside, and from time to time the terrible noise of locusts, These missiles fired at a time One of the truck.
A soldier smiles: “We dig when it’s calm. We hide when he shoots. ” And for concealment, there are these holes that they use for their bedrooms, completely dark cavities of a few square meters where their manure is applied.
– Nee Basaran –
Russian forces are a few kilometers away.
“No Basaran,” laughs Ahl, head of the unit, a smiling but stingy veteran with words.
How many men are there? “As much as I need”.
How is the situation? “It could be worse”.
arms? “We do not have enough.”
Men’s morale? “Well”.
After fighting in the Donbass since the start of the war in 2014, when pro-Russian separatists seized part of the area with the support of Moscow, Ahil admits that the situation is now completely different.
“Today is a total war,” said the soldier, hoping to rest after the war. “If you persevere until then,” he adds.
Before taking his time with reporters, the man with wrinkled face takes off his helmet to reveal a completely shaved head, except for a large bush of hair on his side. He laughs again: “Cossack hairstyle. It’s something to earn. ”
The front, one of the most active areas in recent months, has calmed down for several weeks. “The Russian army is concentrating its efforts on Slovinsk (the southernmost) and the Donetsk region in general. Here the enemy is now on the defensive, ”confirmed Grizzly, another trench commander, with a woolly hat on his head despite the heat. Beard and tattoo.
But “this place was one of the bloodiest in the war,” he continues: “Before we arrived, the previous unit had lost many men. Up to 40% of them stayed in this situation forever. “
Young Dima also witnessed the fall of the comrades.
“Of course,” the confident soldier added, often thinking he was going to bed or drinking tea one last time.
– kilometers per kilometer –
Outside the ditch lies the Ukrainian countryside. A landscape would be wonderful without these vast expansive scorched fields.
Small pothole roads teem with unexploded ordnance and surrounded by wrecked vehicles. Rare military cars scurry across the countryside, chasing a T-72 tank and spinning in a rain of rocks and dust.
A few kilometers to the rear is the headquarters of the brigade, which was stationed on an almost completely destroyed farm.
Chickens wander through the ruins, a cat sleeps peacefully on an abandoned chair, and bees still escape from the unkempt hives. The Tochka U missile is located in the garden.
At the bottom of a small staircase, the chief officer works in a room of about fifteen square meters, where maps and radios have been installed for communication with locations. Three men lying in bed invisibly in the dark, looking at their phones unseen.
“The situation is under control,” said Oleksandr, the officer, a cheerful 34-year-old.
“We have been here since the end of April, and after several attempts by the enemy to advance, we are advancing, kilometer after kilometer, taking control of the ‘green lines’ one by one,” he added.
Target? He immediately replied, “A complete victory.” Is a ceasefire possible? “No no no.”