two men standing in the woods aiming their rifles
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

In a heated shelter near the eastern front line, Ukrainian serviceman, Dmytro, looked on as a mouse sniffed the air and then scuttled behind plastic sheeting insulating the walls and ceiling.

"I didn't see any mice last winter, but this autumn and early winter there have been loads," said the 36-year-old, who operates a BM-21 "Grad" self-propelled multiple rocket launcher.

His unit is positioned close to the industrial town of Bakhmut, an area of the front line that has seen some of the heaviest fighting of Russia's nearly 22-month invasion.

Hidden from view under a thicket, their shelter measuring about 20 square metres (215 square feet) was furnished with bunk beds, a kitchen area and — crucially — a small diesel-powered car heater and electricity supply powered by car batteries.

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