Bakhmut-bound infantry assault troops: 'We are holding on, ready for any scenario’

Editor's note: The Kyiv Independent is not revealing the soldiers' full names or the exact location of their deployment due to security concerns amid the ongoing war.

Donetsk Oblast – Just a few dozen kilometers from Bakhmut, Ukrainian infantry train to ready themselves for brutal days ahead.

Nearly 20 soldiers from a platoon with the 80th Air Assault Brigade gathered at an undisclosed location in the eastern Donetsk Oblast on their day off to fire some shots.

They had just returned from a two-day shift on the Bakhmut front, the epicenter of the war in Ukraine, where bloody trench warfare had raged for many months.

"We practice regularly to avoid losing our combat skills and continue improving them," 27-year-old platoon commander Vladyslav said as he observed his soldiers shooting at cardboard targets in late February. "And then starting tomorrow, we'll go back (to the front line) and perform combat tasks again."

“The situation is not easy anywhere, but we are holding on, and we are ready for any scenario of this war,” he added.

The lieutenant said that the focus of the training that day was tactical movement and shooting.

Vladyslav said five hours isn't enough time to learn a new skill, but it's nevertheless important for the soldiers to work as a team, even on their days off.

His platoon consists of soldiers with varying levels of experience and ages, Vladyslav said, so maintaining a cohesive team, where each person can rely on the other, is crucial.

"The first and the most important thing to gain from this training is cohesion," Vladyslav said.

Over the past weeks, Russia has intensified its offensive on Bakhmut and nearly encircled the apocalyptic-looking city where 70,000 residents once lived. The Russians are conducting "constant assaults" on the Ukrainian holdouts in the city from "all sides," according to Vladyslav.


Note from the author:

Hi, this is Asami Terajima, the author of this article.

Thank you for reading my story till the end. I spent a month in Donetsk Oblast to get to know Ukrainian soldiers and illustrate the situation on the front line through their eyes. Most soldiers I met in eastern Ukraine had never served in the military before the full-scale invasion began in 2022, but they dropped everything at home to defend their country. They are eager to go back to their families once the war is over and do normal things like play with their children outside. To help the Kyiv Independent tell more stories of Ukrainian soldiers and continue reporting on the ground, please consider supporting us by becoming our patron