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 Ukraine's forgotten war is far from being over, - CNN

American veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan described the life of the Ukrainian soldiers in the front line. The war in Ukraine is not over. If you walk around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, or Lviv in western Ukraine, or even in Mariupol, just a 20-minute car ride from the front lines in Shyrokyne, it's hard to feel the war. Life is still going on as normal. People are still going out to bars and restaurants, movies are still playing, young couples are still getting married and students are still in class.

As reported by Censor.NET citing ZN.UA, this is described on the CNN web site by a former U.S. Air Force special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan Nolan Peterson. He adds that this summer the Ukrainian military decided to allow, for the first time, embedded journalists within the regular army. Peterson himself stayed for some time with the 93rd Brigade in the village of Pisky. "On the way to the front lines at Pisky, I saw children swimming in a lake and was reminded again how different this is from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where I served in combat for the United States Air Force. Ukraine is not a country at war. The war here is mostly contained to a buffer zone a few miles wide on either side of the approximately 200-mile-long (320km) front line. Occasionally, the war will spread, like when Smerch rockets hit Kramatorsk in February or when Grad rockets hit Mariupol at the end of January," the former serviceman writes.

See more: Kodema village shelled with one civillian killed, - ATO press center. PHOTOS

A ceasefire was signed February 12. Since then the fighting has mostly stayed in that buffer zone in towns and villages like Pisky. Inside that buffer zone, it's war. Pisky is almost destroyed. Peterson says he didn't see one window that wasn't shattered. Even every vertical surface is pockmarked by bullet and shrapnel holes. The fighting is practically nonstop, creating a constant background din of small arms and artillery fire. Day and night you could hear the buzz of separatist drones orbiting overhead. "In fact, soldiers get nervous if an hour or so goes by without the sounds of combat. It's that constant," the article reads. The unit Peterson embedded with for eight days lives in the basement of an abandoned house where there's some refuge from artillery shrapnel and snipers. "Inside the basement was a bizarre coexistence of pieces of the lives the men had left behind with evidence of the war. There were cards written by children hung next to Kalashnikovs on the walls. On bookshelves, Orthodox images of the Virgin Mary lay next to grenades," Peterson says. The outhouse and the shower are about 100 meters from the cellar and across a road. Beams of light come in at different angles from the bullet and shrapnel holes in the walls and doors. And outside was the ever-present threat of attack. Out on patrol, the scenes are reminiscent of images from the First World War, if on a smaller scale: trenches, destroyed villages and static, long-range warfare. "Soldiers told me they hardly ever saw the enemy. Yet, at night they could hear them talking. And they saw friends being wounded and killed, yet they were not allowed to attack," the article reads.

Watch more: Last fighting in Shyrokyne. VIDEO

Peterson says that psychologically, it's a tough war. There's no escape from the danger. You could die just as easily walking to the toilet or taking a shower as you could while out on patrol or in the trenches. You never know when the artillery is going to start, or when a sniper has you in his sights. And usually your chances of survival just depend on good luck and not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. To cope with the stress, some soldiers recreate the lives they've left behind. Nemo, a 38-year-old from Kerch, in Crimea, grows strawberries and has built a gym in a destroyed home. He's been on the front line for almost six months, and he reacts calmly and evenly when the fighting starts. Even with artillery falling, he's out every day cranking out sets of dips and pull-ups. Bohdan from Lviv is always wearing a cowboy hat, tinkers with an old motorcycle, which reminds him of the one he has at home. Kostiantyn flips through photos of his wife Zhanna and their twin 13-year-old boys on his old laptop while he lies in bed at night. And at night the shelling is just nonstop.

Read more: Armed persons arriving to Donbas from Russia, Russian Strela anti-aircraft missile system revealed near Komsomolsk, OSCE says

And that's how the soldiers live out there in Pisky, every day. "Some have been on the front lines for more than six months without a single trip home. Every second of every day they know they could die. They've seen it happen to their friends, and they believe it could happen to them too. They understand that this war is for real, and it is far from over," the article reads. At the same time, the experts of the Information Resistance group report the militants are trying to unleash a "sniper war" in the Donbas. Separate, professionally trained sniper groups of terrorists are operating near the villages of Marinka, Shyrokyne, Shchastia, Krymske. Earlier, the ATO HQ stated the situation in the east of Ukraine was aggravating. Namely, the Ukrainian soldiers repulsed two enemy attacks. Groups of 15 to 20 militants were trying to seize or break past the Ukrainian army strong points. At 9.15 p.m. - near Avdiivka, at 9.35 p.m. - near Verkhniotoretske. "Ukrainian soldiers gloriously repelled the attackers and forced them to retreat," the ATO HQ noted. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported that during the cease fire the ATO forces positions had been fired and shelled for more than 7000 times. Moreover, the last six months saw 124 combats between the Ukrainian military and the terrorists, as well as 190 shelled settlements in the territory controlled by Ukraine.

 
 
 
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