While towns and villages around the capital of Kyiv have begun to rebuild after the Russians withdrew months ago and world powers discuss long-term recovery, others in eastern Ukraine still cannot sleep soundly.

Viktor Lazar shares his war-side balcony with a pair of opera glasses and a tiny orange snake, his only companion in an apartment that seems to sit at the edge of the world, AP reports.

The opera glasses, more of a joke, are hardly needed — the front line is visible without them. The rumbling of Russian and Ukrainian shelling is audible even now, although Lazar claims not to notice. Below his balcony is a crater, one of many. On the nearby street, a Grad rocket launcher rolls by.

Lazar estimates the Russians are just 10 kilometers (6 miles) away.

As the war grinds into its fifth month along deadly fault lines in Ukraine’s east and south, Lazar and his few neighbors in Kharkiv’s vast and shattered neighborhood of Saltivka represent a life without resolution in which many are trapped. New communities are being told to flee. Not all do.

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