Ukraine War: Two years on, no respite for soldiers in the Donbas

Ukraine War: Two years on, no respite for soldiers in the Donbas
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Valérie Gauriat
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The 24 of February marked the 2nd anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Euronews International Correspondent Valérie Gauriat traveled to eastern Ukraine to witness the resilience of soldiers on the front.

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We are in the Donetsk region of the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine. Two years after the start of the Russian invasion, the territory at the heart of the conflict is still gripped by fierce fighting.

Nestled below the ground in a location kept secret, less than 3 kilometres from the frontline, a unit of Ukrainian soldiers, specialised in drone attacks, is preparing a launch on a Russian target.

Yuriy 'Achilles' is the unit’s commander in the 92nd Brigade. He told Euronews that drones have become a key asset in what has become a war of attrition. They cannot however replace artillery, which is desperately lacking resources he says, calling for Ukraine’s international partners to send more military aid, urgently.

“Without artillery and without their ammunition, saving the lives of our soldiers and resisting the enemy will be very difficult” warned 'Achilles'.

Technological warfare

Russian technological advances are making the situation increasingly dire on the battlefield. “The rate at which they are scaling up their technology is a lot faster than ours because they have more resources than us”, said Anton, a commander from the Attack Drone Company in the 92nd Brigade.

“Shrapnel wounds from drones are the most common injury we see”, said Artem, an anaesthetist at one of the so-called military stabilisation points where wounded soldiers, coming straight from the frontline, are given emergency care before they are sent to hospital. 

“The drones are shaping the battlefield now and Russians are active throughout the front. Due to our lack of shells, they operate more aggressively, because they know there won't be artillery strikes in retaliation for their moves.”

We joined one of the military medical evacuation units from the Donetsk region on standby. Constantly on alert, the team had a rare moment of respite, it was an opportunity to ask them about morale on the battlefield.

No end in sight

Uliana Sozanska, a press officer from the 80th Brigade was an orchestra conductor in the Air Force. She joined the 80th Brigade in the Donetsk region in order to serve alongside her brother. He died on the battlefield, shortly before her arrival. “Each one of us has lost someone in this war, because of these cursed Russians. We must continue to stand firm. This is our homeland, our country. We must keep on fighting,” she told Euronews.

The same sentiment was shared by Roman Gasko, the commander of the Medevac unit in the 80th Brigade. He’s not surprised that two years have passed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. “The most difficult thing is that we don't know how long it will be and when it will end. That’s the main question for everyone”, he concluded.

To watch Valérie's report in full, click on the video in the media player above

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