In Ukraine, artillery battles for life

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In Ukraine, artillery battles for life

Although Russia has made advances, Ukraine has put up a staunch resistance and both sides are dug in, with rallies of artillery and countering fire determining the taxing course of the conflict.

An almost unbearable element of chance is introduced by the lob of munitions, some inaccurate, others seemingly random, for soldiers and civilians alike.

We sit in the trenches, the enemy shells us and we can't even stick our heads out, said 26-year-old Ukrainian soldier Bogdan, perched in the bed of his pickup truck in the frontline city of Bakhmut.

There are no gunfire fights as there used to be. It is an artillery battle. You just jump into the trench and wait for the strike. The cab of Bogdan's truck was speared by the remains of a rocket that fell from the sky after jettisoning its explosive load.

His hand still shakes from the encounter.

In the back of the vehicle he holds up the gnarled metal that almost stole his life before throwing it down with a look of disdain.

The city of Kostyantynivka - set back from the frontline but unspared from its random violence - was pummelled by air strikes last weekend.

Seven people were injured, according to the regional military administration.

A four-floor apartment building was damaged by the blast, a vast semicircle of sky replacing the space where two homes once stood.

A man lowers a sewing machine by rope from a window as residents try to salvage what they can.

Ievgeniya Iefimenko, 82, is on a dusty staircase clogged with rubble and twisted metal.

She was dozing when the twin blasts hit, one elsewhere and another one that destroyed her neighbour's flat, and halted her bedside clock at 12.24 am 5.24 am Singapore time. She said that she had gotten used to it, restless with distress, her eyes spouting tears.

She said she was thrown over there, gesturing to a wall and puzzling the ill luck that has made her homeless.

I don't know how I ended up there. I don't know how I ended up there. She weeps alone, because I have no one.

Serviceman Oleg Yashchuk recounts his near miss in an almost giddy tone on a road outside the frontline city of Soledar.

I returned from the positions and I had three or four days off, so we went to relax at the lake - barbecue, beer, nice company, he starts. A tank started shooting at us. He says it shot into the gazebo, into the water, where there were many soldiers.

We miraculously survived, all the fragments got stuck in the water, that's why we are still alive. In the distance the sounds of fresh shelling can be heard - others may not be so fortunate.