The response from Ukrainian forces on the eastern front is unchanged as Russian President Vladimir Putin announces the annexation of large portions of sovereign Ukrainian territory, issues nuclear threats, and calls up hundreds of thousands of reservists.
In one of the four regions that President Putin is currently illegitimately claiming as his own, we travel to front-line positions in the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk. Our journey is broken up into phases.
We move more slowly to cross the Bakhmutovka River, then move more quickly to cover exposed ground before squeezing through a perilous curtain of downed power lines. We sprint the last few meters. The shelling continues nonstop throughout; it is a common sound of war.
The crackle of small arms fire, however, can be heard when we get close to the front-line troops inside a building that has seen combat. The distance between the two sides allows for rifle-to-rifle fire between them.
The Russians are in front of us by about 400 meters (437 yards) and are making a lot of effort to get closer. There is a Russian sniper in the back, as we are told.
The unit commander is solemn and direct at his underground post, where a ginger cat keeps him company.
Oleksandr, a 31-year-old, complains that things are difficult right now. It is demanding. Everyone is pressed for time. Although the enemy is very close by, we are still standing and responding.
He calls the most recent referendums held by President Putin “delusional,” and he asserts that Ukrainians will not submit to Russian tyranny.
“Those referendums, in my opinion, won’t affect anything. Putin’s army will face opposition from our army as we drive them off our territory, he vows.
- What is the name of the river?
Ans. Bakhmutovka River
- What is the age of Oleksandr?
- What does he call Putin?