New Year at the Ukraine Front

  • Petr Pojman
  • 15.1.2018 19:05

Short dispatch by Petr Pojman from Eastern Ukraine regarding the current situation at the front.

A group of foreign voluntary observers, Vostok SOS, and DRA – for which I am a member, are travelling along the line of contact between the areas controlled by the Ukrainian government and parts of the Luhansk region occupied by Russian collaborators. We pass through Katerinivka, Zolote, Trochizbinka, Schastia, Stanytsia Luhanska and even into the grey zone – an area behind the last Ukrainian military checkpoint. Only those with a special permit are allowed entry. As evidence remains of heavy shelling, with roads and homes surrounded by minefields, it is difficult to fathom that anyone would continue to live in these areas.

The current situation in Luhansk. Red areas are controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Source:

Yet, that seems to be the case. Hundreds of people, including women, children and seniors, carry on living in the villages we visited. As snowflakes fall, and despite the sounds of heavy machine guns from the surrounding hills, a mother walks with her three-year-old son who is learning to cycle on his balance bike. It is incredible to imagine that this three-year-old boy has lived his entire life at the front line.

Explosives have been reportedly found on a road to school taken by children, with simply a string across the road and an unlocked grenade set to explode after the string has been tripped. The teachers noticed the trap that time round but others have not had such luck. A similar trap killed a cow herder, while another senior suffered heavy injuries to his legs after closing a gate to a neighbouring house where an explosive was planted. However, since ambulances and police cars do not enter the area, the senior‘s wife was left to drive him to a hospital.

Explosives planted in the grey zone are presumed to be most likely the work of the diversionary groups of the Second Military Body of the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’. The injured senior remembered he had heard dogs barking loudly in the village two days before. He explained: ‘They only bark at strangers but we usually do not have many strangers here. It was at the beginning of December, my wife and I had been celebrating our wedding anniversary, that is why I remember it so well…’.

Source: Petr Pojman

Every day is seemingly a battle for survival. The Luhansk People’s Republic, created by pro-Kremlin collaborators, unnaturally divided the Luhansk region. Some people are forced to risk their lives crossing the contact line every day. The only ‘official’ border post is at Stanytsia Luhanska, and even that one is only opened to pedestrians.

A divided Ukraine is the reflection of a new cold war, in the way a divided Berlin once was, except the border has shifted some 2.000 kilometres to the East. In this way, Soviet aggression has been replaced by Russian aggression and their methods have been modernised but remain the same in nature. Even today, this is a war between the past and the future, and now – as well as back then – the room for compromise has been virtually exhausted.

This article was originally published in the Přítomnost revue magazine. The original can be found here.

About author: Petr Pojman


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