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Inside Ukraine’s trenches: ‘It’s like the First World War – very compact, claustrophobic’

There is very little to see in the lowlands that separate Mykolaiv from Kherson.

The fields are flat, with no features. Residents of nearby villages have fled their homes.

This territory is crucial, as it is the gateway to Kherson.

It is a metropolitan center of around 300,000 people. The Russians have not been able to capture any other regional capitals, making it an invaluable military prize.


The Ukrainians would be effectively able to exterminate the enemy on the western bank of the Dnipro River by capturing the city. This would reinforce the momentum they have been building over the past few weeks.

They are located about 30km from the city’s outskirts. We were taken to narrow-walled trenches that form the Ukraine side.

Oleksandr, a soldier, led us down a passage and pointed out a hole in the wall.

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He opened a small wooden door and said “Sleep.”

“That’s where you go, sleep and take shelter.”

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Russia is running out of weapons.

Oleksandr requires coverage. Russians are constantly trying to take this position.

They use everything they have: tanks, mortars, small and large calibre howitzers, cluster bombs and Grad missiles.

We found Anatoly and Vadim, soldiers from Anatoly, looking out of their post.

Although it was cramped, the staff said that the Ukrainians would soon gain more ground.

Anatoly stated, “We won’t be here long, just for two days.”

“But winter is coming. Will that not make it more difficult?” I was curious.

“We can handle it, we’ll get okay.”

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The commander informed us that there is a machine gun position protecting Ukrainian positions in the vicinity. He said he would take us if you were willing to run.

We ran through open ground, and we found two gunners at one end of a shallow trench.

We were told by them that the Russians had recently seized this spot.

“Browning gun, Germany. One of the men leaned on his heavy machine gun handles to show him.

“If you look ahead, at 11 o’clock there’s a building there. Our intelligence is now indicating that there are Chechens in it.”

Ramzan Kadyrov is a prominent Russian supporter and Chechen fighters are actively involved in the war. They have a frightening reputation for their brutality.

“Have (the gun) you ever used?” “, I inquired.

“Yes, we have used them and it was successful too. It’s indefendable.” It’s hard to imagine what the enemy felt afterward.

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As the light faded, the commander ordered us to return. We were forced to flee the battlefield in front of us by the commander.

We knew the men in this trench line were going to have a difficult night.


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