A Russian soldier has revealed the dark reality of life on the front line in Ukraine by documenting the aftermath of an attack on his trench near Bakhmut, just weeks after the unit hosted a party to celebrate their arrival.
The shocking clip combines two videos – the first of which was posted and shared on a Russian Telegram group on September 12. In it, you see a fresh-faced army unit laughing and joking while singing and dancing to upbeat pop music.
Their clothes look clean and fresh, and the dugout is well stocked with food and bottles of wine.
But moments later, the video shifts to a second clip, posted on October 19, and the footage shows a very different scene.
A lone Russian soldier stands in the ruins of his trench, surrounded by the bodies of his comrades and splinters of branches from trees torn apart by heavy fire.
“Good morning,” he says softly. ‘The boys are lying here. One here, there’s a second… in short, it absolutely sucks.
‘I feel sorry for the boys lying here like this. There are two more down the street,” he adds, before the deafening blast of nearby artillery rings out, startling him.
“Rest in peace… they died as heroes,” he says solemnly before cutting the video.
You will see a fresh looking army unit laughing as they joke while singing and dancing to upbeat pop music
The men are seen drinking and standing arm in arm as they sing along to tunes in the trench
Weeks later, the trench is seen utterly destroyed with rubble, spent weapons – and bodies – strewn across the scene
A Russian soldier who filmed the clip said the situation was “absolutely damning.”
Bitter fighting has been going on in and around Bakhmut for more than a year, with the industrial hub in eastern Ukraine proving to be one of the bloodiest battlefields in what has emerged so far.
Russian forces continued their attacks on two frontline areas near Bakhmut on Monday, trying to break the only supply route to the destroyed city of Avdiivka and advance further north to the main city of Kupiansk.
The Ukrainian Army General Staff said its forces had repelled about 10 Russian attacks on Avdiivka in recent days.
Vitaly Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military administration, said strikes were taking place 24 hours a day in Avdiivka’s city center and on the only road used to bring in supplies.
“A very difficult supply situation, with 22 km of road under constant fire, day and night,” Barabash told Radio Liberty.
‘This makes evacuation and assistance more difficult. The enemy is trying to cut it off. Every movement is a signal to open fire.’
Barabash said about 1,600 residents remained in the city, compared to a pre-war population of about 30,000. Most of those who remained had no desire to leave, he said.
Avdiivka has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after months of attacks.
It was briefly captured in 2014 by Russian-backed separatists who overran large swathes of territory in the east, and Ukrainian forces have built solid fortifications in the intervening nine years.
President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to those who defended the city in his nightly video message, saying: “Their resilience is now the strength for all of Ukraine.”
General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, described conditions along the entire 1,000-kilometer front as “challenging.”
He singled out Bakhmut, which was seized by Russia in May after months of fighting, and Kupiansk, both northeast of Avdiivka, as facing the greatest difficulties.
A resident is seen after shelling in the frontline town of Avdiivka as the Russian-Ukrainian war in Avdiivka continues
Ukrainian soldiers of the 55th Separate Artillery Brigade fire a Caesar self-propelled howitzer at Russian troops, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, near the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region
Ukrainian soldiers of the 59th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket system at Russian troops near a front line, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, near the city of Avdiivka
A view of damaged buildings after shelling in the frontline town of Avdiivka as the Russian-Ukrainian war continues in Avdiivka, Ukraine on October 17, 2023
“The enemy is suffering significant losses, especially in terms of personnel, but is constantly replenishing its forces by bringing in reserves, including from Russia,” Syrskyi told UNIAN news agency.
Local officials also said Russian forces had again shelled areas in the southern Kherson region under Kiev’s control.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for more than 800 children, they said.
Russia has focused on gaining control of the eastern Donbas region, which consists of the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and surrounding areas, since failing to enter Kiev in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 traps.
Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in both the east and south in June this year, making much slower progress than its meteoric advance through the northeastern region of Kharkiv a year ago.
Russian reports of Monday’s fighting made no mention of Avdiivka for the third day in a row.
It said Russian forces had repelled three attacks outside Kupiansk and another 10 near Bakhmut.