Vuhledar, a battered and scarred mining town, is perched high on a hill in Donetsk.
As we travel along boggy farm tracks, it becomes apparent.
This is another victim of the gruesome war.
It is currently held by Ukraine, but it is constantly being attacked by Russian forces.
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As the military escort came under fire again, we entered.
We are told by soldiers to move forward and not stay put.
The constant threat of an artillery attack is real
It’s hard to maneuver quickly over open ground, and it’s a grueling zig-zag through the landscape.
We hear a whining sound overhead and run for cover. We find shelter by an apartment block’s side.
The impact sounds deafening.
There are moments of calm before another shell falls through the sky.
The fighting has completely destroyed the town of Donetsk in the east of Ukraine.
Each apartment building has had its windows broken out, and many have even had their sides ripped off.
Unexploded rockets are still in the ground and there are shell craters everywhere.
It was home to approximately 15,000 people until it was destroyed by war. Few people remain.
There are no services, and civilians who still live here continue to collect rainwater from the drainpipes in order to survive. They also keep close to cover.
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Yemilia, one resident, told me that she is terrified all the while but has no other place to go.
It’s scary. We go outside to get water, but most of the time we are in the basement. If you wait outside, everything here is bombed. It is very difficult.
The wholesale destruction of possessions and lives is perhaps the best way to sum up the madness of this war.
According to the soldiers defending Vuhledar’s strategic importance, Ukrainian forces can attack Russian supply lines from these positions.
Russia has attacked at a rapid pace, resulting in intense fighting over the past few weeks.
One of the soldiers, “Sailor”, said that it doesn’t really matter how many men are killed. More will come.
They go and they go. They don’t stop. They just keep moving over their dead bodies. Their dead brothers and others are dying. They are not slowing down.”
One of the commanders known as Raven, is hiding in a bunker deep within the town. He just coordinated a counterattack.
He shows us a panoramic of the town as well as the corpse of a Russian commando via a livestream beam from a drone.
“I understood it from Russian radio intercepts that it was their commander. They are storming us in large numbers. We are managing for the moment. We can’t see their tanks, mortars, and artillery long-range, however.
We were moved to another location near the town with a different brigade.
A message is heard over the radio as we drive: Russian troops are moving.
They’ve been active in the line of contact since the Kremlin’s offensive began.
The trench soldiers respond by lighting an arc of flame.
They are protected by the razor wire that is in front of them as a last defense against Russia’s human waves.
These soldiers claim they are able to defend their positions. They are used to this hellish war.
Russia is a formidable enemy. It doesn’t seem care how many men are moved forwards, as long as it gets what it wants.