After three days with no shooting, “all of a sudden they opened up with grenade launchers and firearms. One mortar shell flew over and fell in the field behind us. Two more hit between ours and the next position. In 15 minutes, everything was quiet again. Why? What for? Nobody knows. And that’s how it is around here,” said Oleh Surhov, a Ukrainian soldier who fled Crimea in 2014

In trenches dusted with snow and tinged with soot, men search for enough cellphone signal to hear the latest from the distant capitals that will decide their fate. Moscow, Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna. Sometimes Kyiv. But only sometimes, AP reports.

These Ukrainians are far from the Russian ships headed to a naval exercise off the coast of Ireland, from the American-built fighter jets streaming to the Baltics and from the U.S. aircraft carrier steadily sailing the Mediterranean.

As Western-supplied weapons land by the planeload in Kyiv, soldiers and civilians alike wait here with helpless anticipation for decisions made by people who know little about the lives of those on the eastern front lines — a battle-weary region near where Russia has massed tens of thousands of soldiers in a troop buildup that U.S. President Joe Biden said could mount the largest invasion since World War II.

The soldiers in Zolote 4 have been defending against Russian encroachment for years. They are just a few hundred meters from pro-Russia separatist fighters, who are on the other side of a checkpoint that no one can safely cross. The soldiers assume that’s where the snipers are, though they’ve never seen any gunmen.

After three days with no shooting, “all of a sudden they opened up with grenade launchers and firearms. One mortar shell flew over and fell in the field behind us. Two more hit between ours and the next position. In 15 minutes, everything was quiet again. Why? What for? Nobody knows. And that’s how it is around here,” said Oleh Surhov, a Ukrainian soldier who fled Crimea in 2014 after the Russians seized the peninsula. He joined the fight soon after he evacuated his wife, children and grandchildren to western Ukraine.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse