Near Slovyansk, Ukraine (CNN)Maxim is waiting. He and his companions slept in earthen bargains for over a month, ate from cans warmed bycampfires, andRussian troopsonly a few kilometers. I received the news that I went ahead.
"Of course they are coming," Maxim says. "There are far more people than we are."
They are dug deep into this dense eastern Ukrainian forest, not far from Slovyansk, and are part of the Ukrainian territorial defense force. is. ..
So far, they have avoided contact with their enemies and spent their days under the camouflage net, next to a huge pyramid of bottled water. But they live with the sound of cannons at every moment of every day. Their wooded camps are regularly showered with cluster munitions. Shortly after CNN's visit, a cluster strike seriously injured some of the soldiers.
And while they are well supplied with anti-tank weapons that have proven to be very decisive in stopping Russia's first invasion, they are at this stage of the war. Not a necessary weapon.
"I can hear you," says Maxim's comrade Mikairo, who says heavy weapons are thundering in the distance. Like everyone else in this story, he asked to use only his name because of privacy concerns.
"For all of our heavy shots, they make 10 or 20 because we lack artillery."
Donbus, 2014 This is where the conflict with Russia began in the year. And after Ukraine routed an attempt to plunder the Russian government in Kieu earlier this year, Donbus was once again at the center of the war.
Slowly, the enemy is moving forward. Further east, Russian troops appear to occupy the industrial city of Severodonetsk and surround Ukrainian troops in the adjacent Lysychans'k.
This is putting pressure on Ukraine's most important densely populated areas of Ukraine, Bakumut and Slovyansk, especially Kramatorsk, which remain in Donbus. The territorial defense unit is just one of the cork networks that the Ukrainian army uses to fill the defense gap.
In direct contact with the enemy, it means that the artillery could not stop Russia's advance, and Slovyansk is really at risk.
Mykhailo looks into the edge of the trench and shows why his troops were placed here. He moves towards the road. “Once a convoy arrives, our job is to stop it,” he says.
The civilians they want to defend are already, and more and more, suffering from Russia's progress.
Rockets emit deadly cluster payloads into apartment blocks, supermarket parking lots, and suburban homes. Bombs break windows and doors, and unlucky people are unknowingly caught.
Igor in his late 30s was one of them. He said goodbye to his wife on Monday and walked from his apartment on the ground floor of a Soviet-era building to the taxi he drove to earn a living. He never did it.
"I was standing here and crying," said his neighbor Valentina, 76. "He was a very nice person. His name was Igor. And my husband's name is Igor."
An explosion scattered debris throughout her bed and is now a former builder. Her husband, who is, is sawing a piece of particleboard to cover a broken window above a building door.
"Very scary," she says. "Wrap yourself in a pillow at night."
Slovyansk bears the brunt of Russia's advance from the north. In the south, Bakumut pays even heavier fees.
Marina stood in the yard of her building and scraped the glass shattered by a Russian bomb just a few hours ago.
"We didn't hurt anyone," she says in pain. "We are just simple people. My husband has been an ambulance worker for 45 years and has saved lives."
Most of the people left on this street are the elderly. .. Many sons and daughters have been away for a long time without being able to convince their parents to join them.
"We have no gas, no power, no water, but we just want to stop shooting."
Return to the forest, Maxim waiting for Russian troops Says he is pondering his pregnant wife and her unborn son, who have returned to their hometown of Kharkiv.
"We will drive them out of here, and he will know it: we just stood here and did nothing. It's our land. , They do not have the right to come here. "