ERR in Luhansk: Positional battles in progress on many sectors of front

A Ukrainian soldier in the Luhansk Oblast.
A Ukrainian soldier in the Luhansk Oblast. Source: ERR

At present there is much talk about a spring counter-offensive by the armed forces of Ukraine, while at the same time, there are several positional battles going on on various fronts, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.

ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev and camera operator Kristjan Svirgsden delivered a reportage from on the ground, in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine, one of the most heavily fought-over areas.

After a few kilometers trek through the early morning forest, the pair arrive at a gun emplacement being used by Ukrainian artillery personnel.

One of them, Mykola, tells AK that: "Last night was relatively calm. The Russians usually work at around 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., and while we also work at night, last night this did not happen."

"Instead, they fired on us. Shots were fired from tanks at around 3 a.m., but in general it was otherwise calm," Mykola went on.

The Ukrainians have L-119 howitzers (probably the British L-118 light gun-ed.) which have already fired off over 8,000 rounds. They are causing damage to the other side, but require more ammo.

Another Ukrainian artilleryman, Andriy, said: "When we obtained these howitzers, we had sufficient ammo for them. As of now, however, most of it has been used, which is why we have to preserve ammo now."

"We aren't even firing on smaller targets, because that would be a waste of ammunition. After all, a larger target, such as a tank or something like that, might come along," he added.

The first front lines are around 4km away, and as in other locations, artillery duels have been taking place in this area of Luhansk.

The nature of the terrain has also exerted an effect on the course of events.

Mykola said: "The enemy hasn't been able to make any progress here, and positional battles are going on. They fire on our positions and we retaliate in kind. In the meantime, we try to tie down their positions, while at other times they attack our positions. They choose a specific section of the front, bombard it and then try to advance. The front line is fluid, but to a maximum of 500m back and forth. That is the situation here in the forest."

Most of these men AK visited had been at the front for over a year now. 

Dmitry said: "I have been mobilized; the only difference is that others got call-ups, but I went myself, with my father, who is also a soldier. As soon as the war broke out, we decided that we had to defend our homeland."

"I come from the city of Sumy (in the northeast of the country and close to the border-ed.) where Russian tanks arrived on the first day of the war. We escaped from there and joined the army, as we were convinced that we had to liberate our hometown by force," Dmitry went on.

While Sumy was liberated in early April last year, following fierce fighting there, Ukraine is awaiting a renewed offensive from its armed forces against those areas, like Luhansk and Donetsk, still occupied by Russian troops.

Mykola said he was from Lviv, in the far West of Ukraine.

"I lived there for a long time. On the home front in the rear, people have slightly too high expectations, because they don't really understand what kind of situation we have here. What can I tell them? You have to believe in Ukraine's armed forces, as we're doing all we can here to hold up this front and defend our land," he added.

The original AK slot (in Estonian and Ukrainian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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