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Luck makes the difference between life and death in the war zone of Ukraine

#Luck #difference #life #death #war #zone #Ukraine

When rockets fire across the skies of eastern Ukraine, the people below are held hostage by fate.

A soldier speeding through a frontline town in a drab pickup truck may take a direct hit, only to be miraculously saved.

An elderly woman asleep in her apartment is thrown across her bedroom – spared from the chaos next door by a cracked partition, her alarm clock frozen at the moment of the strike.

A soldier who’s strayed from the front line takes a moment to relax, only to come under fire just as he’s lost his guard.

All have survived, at least for now, on the Eastern Front of the war between Russia and Ukraine, where life and death seem a simple matter of chance.

With Russia’s failure to storm Kyiv after its February invasion, the military campaign has shifted to regions bordering its larger neighbor.

There has been fighting here since 2014, when Moscow annexed the southeastern peninsula of Crimea and began supporting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region.

Though Russia has made progress, Ukraine is putting up steadfast resistance, and both sides are dug in, with artillery and return fire dictating the grueling course of the conflict.

For soldiers and civilians alike, throwing munitions—some imprecise, others seemingly random—involves an almost intolerable element of randomness.

“We’re in the trenches, the enemy is shooting at us and we can’t even stick our heads out,” said 26-year-old Ukrainian soldier Bogdan, sitting in the back of his pickup truck in the front-line town of Bakhmut.

“Now there’s no gunfights like there used to be. Today it’s an artillery battle. So you just jump into the trench and wait for the blow.”

The cab of Bogdan’s truck was pierced by the remains of a rocket that fell from the sky after dropping its explosive charge.

His hand is still shaking from the encounter.

At the back of the vehicle, he holds up the gnarled metal that nearly stole his life before throwing it to the ground with a disdainful look.

– ‘I have no one’ –

The city of Kostyantynivka – set back from the front lines but not spared indiscriminate violence – was hit by airstrikes last weekend.

According to the regional military administration, seven people were injured.

A four-story apartment building was destroyed in the blast, and a vast semicircle of sky replaced the space where two houses once stood.

From a window, a man lowers a sewing machine with a rope while residents try to salvage what they can.

Ievgeniya Iefimenko, 82, stands up a dusty staircase clogged with debris and bent metal.

She dozed as the two blasts struck – one elsewhere and another that destroyed her neighbor’s home and stopped her bedside clock at 12:24 am.

“There have been explosions before, but they were somewhere further away, so I got used to it,” she said, uneasy with grief, her eyes brimming with tears.

“I got thrown over there,” she said, pointing to a wall and puzzling over the bad luck that left her homeless.

“I don’t know how I ended up there, I don’t know that.”

“I have nobody, I’m alone, alone,” she cries.

– “Wonderful Survival” –

On a street outside the front-line town of Soledar, soldier Oleg Yashchuk, in an almost dizzy tone, recounts his own near miss.

“I came back from the positions, I had three or four days off, so we went to the lake to relax – barbecue, beer, nice company,” he begins. “Suddenly a tank started firing at us.”

“It shot into the pavilion, into the water, where there were many soldiers,” he says.

“We miraculously survived, all the fragments got stuck in the water, that’s why they’re still alive.”

In the distance you can hear the sounds of fresh shelling – others might not be so lucky.

Social Tags:
#Luck #difference #life #death #war #zone #Ukraine

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