While diplomatic relations are strained over the Donbas issue and demands for de-escalation are being heard internationally, the regular Ukrainian army is holding its positions. In a maze of frozen trenches that conjure up the spectre of the First World War, the soldiers are expecting an imminent and brutal attack from the Russian giant.
Since the Minsk II agreements in 2015, the Donbas frontline has more or less settled – from Luhansk to Mariupol. But the conflict between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists has never ended, giving way to a war of attrition. According to the government, it has claimed more than 14,000 victims since 2014 and led some 2 million civilians to flee a territory in ruins. But since the end of 2021, Vladimir Putin’s words and the movement of more than 120,000 Russian soldiers to the Ukrainian border have raised fears of an invasion of the country.