The heart-wrenching stories of soldiers fighting in the Russia-Ukraine war

Dying on the frontline
The enemy is a ghost
Student-turned-soldier
Objective: to survive
The horror of seeing your loved ones get killed
Death and mourning happen on both sides of the war
The useless battle of Kiev
Merciless bombing
Blood and smoke
Civilians are greatly affected too
The heroes of Snake Island
The appearance of resistance movements
A new phase of the war
Dying on the frontline

Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the frontlines know that Russian artillery is aiming to kill them. A 29-year-old fighter who identified himself as Vlad told The Washington Post: "It's an artillery bombing down. All the wounded are coming from shrapnel. Most guys in the trenches haven't even seen the enemy face-to-face."

The enemy is a ghost

Both sides bombard hard, though there is hardly any crossfire between combatants. The enemy is an invisible ghost. But the horror of everyday war is found in the details of the stories of those in the frontlines.

Student-turned-soldier

The forced conscription decreed in Ukraine has sent very young people to the war. BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen interviewed 19-year-old Maxsym Lutsyk, a Ukrainian student-turned-soldier who described the war situation like "hell", saying you see a lot of death around you.

Objective: to survive

Again, Maxsym Lutsyk's story paints a picture of artillery rain on soldiers who can do little: "It was like hell. There were no good positions to defend. We had been in trenches, sometimes in shelters from Soviet times and in a fire station". Their objective was basically to survive until the order to withdraw came.

The horror of seeing your loved ones get killed

What Maxsym Lutsyk told the BBC can be summed up in this heart-wrenching quote: "Friends die in your arms."

Death and mourning happen on both sides of the war

People equally mourn their loved ones, whether they're Russian or Ukranian. The German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle interviewed the mother of a 26-year-old Russian soldier killed in the early days of the war. She defined what her son had experienced near Kiev as a "bloodbath."

The useless battle of Kiev

In the first days of the war, Russia wanted to take control of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, although militarily the idea was absurd, according to a lot of analysts. Even so, the fights continued near the capital, and it was in one of them where the Russian soldier whose mother Deutsche Welle interviewed died.

"No one came to his aid"

"Our guys were surrounded and nobody came to their aid. They were shot at and shelled for a whole day. Think about it, the airport is basically an open field." This was said by the mother of the Russian soldier who fought in what Putin calls a "special military operation."

Merciless bombing

The Russian army has shown that it is willing to bomb relentlessly until a city is reduced to rubble if necessary, as was the case with Mariupol. Oleg Supereka, recruited at the age of 53, was in Kharkov inside an administrative building that was bombed. He told his story to Los Angeles Times.

Blood and smoke

"There was so much glass, so much smoke, dust, that you couldn't see (...) So much blood, on the floor, on the wall, on the faces of the victims," recalled Oleg Supereka.

Civilians are greatly affected too

It's not just soldiers who have devastating stories. Civilians too: elders, mothers, children, are all witnesses to the horror of the war. "I saw a Russian soldier shoot my father dead," said 14-year-old Yuriy to the BBC. He's a teenager from Bucha who was riding a bicycle with his dad when members of the Russian army shot at them.

The heroes of Snake Island

And, of course, there is also room for epic tales of heroics that serve as propaganda. This is the case of the alleged response of the thirty coastguards who defended the island of the snakes (in the image) when the Russians urged them to surrender: "Get out!" (according to The Guardian: "Go f**k yourself!"). The coastguards were captured but with their honor intact: they did not surrender.

"They are afraid of us"

The Ukrainian army's capacity for resistance undermines the morale of the Russian troops. One Ukrainian soldier summed it up for CNN after seeing the Russians' terrified reaction when one of their helicopters was shot down: "They're afraid of us."

The appearance of resistance movements

In some occupied areas of Ukraine, Russian invaders are beginning to face guerrilla tactics and resistance groups, like those seen in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to different newspapers.

A new phase of the war

This new scenario of insurgent attacks would mean additional damage on the Russian forces.

"The fog of war"

In any case, the stories of soldiers are only a faint echo of the ongoing catastrophe. The so-called "fog of war" still prevails, which is a classic way of defining the uncertainty of the war or the inability to see a complete picture of victory, defeat or, simply, devastation.

 

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