Russian Aggression in Ukraine: Eastern Ukraine as shooting range for Russia
Politics16:49 Jul. 12, 2016
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Eastern Ukraine as shooting range for Russia

Death toll rising in Donbas warzone as Ukraine defends itself from militant attacks

Two soldiers killed, another four wounded in the Donbas warzone in the past 24 hours.

A day before that three servicemen died and 16 were wounded. Ukraine has been hearing this cheerless news almost every day since the war started. The nights in the conflict region are especially violent, militant weapons almost never go silent.

Ukrainian soldier, nom de guerre Kozak: "They are trying to trick us. At first you think a machine gun or a rifle is firing but then you realize they are using the sound of shooting to cover the mortar blasts."

Ukrainian soldiers endured almost a hundred attacks last night. Sector Mariupol, sector Donetsk, sector Horlivka - the most dangerous hotspots in the once peaceful region. The militants are using all kinds of weapons, often resorting to arms, banned by Minsk. 

Read also 'This War Is Useless': Russian mercenary captured by Ukrainian troops in Donbas

A day ago one Ukrainian soldier was killed near Donetsk by a high caliber mortar, which was supposed to be withdrawn from the front line.

"Yesterday we were shelled by the self-propelled artillery and mortars. Nights are always like this, but it gets a bit easier in the morning."

Every minute the soldiers spend in the conflict region is a fight for their lives. The Russian-backed forces are often located just hundreds of meters away from them. The militants hold roads near their stronghold Horlivka in the crosshairs, monitoring every movement of Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian soldier, nom de guerre Kuzya: "Here the enemy is stationed just a kilometer away from us. They brought vehicles, mortars and shoot at us from weapons we've never even had in Ukraine."

Read also 10,000 Ukrainians killed by ‘Russian-terrorist forces' over the past two years - Defence Council

Sometimes the soldiers can't even tell what arms the militants use to attack them. The servicemen joke, Russia has organized a shooting range in eastern Ukraine to test its new weapons.

That is some weird trail, I got no idea what hit the ground. A mortar shell would leave a crater, but this trail is too long for that.

Long battles and short respite. This is how it goes for Ukraine, day after day, night after night.

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