When Your Hometown Becomes a Permanent Battlefield
A ceasefire was supposed to end the conflict in Ukraine last year, but in one dangerous no-man’s land the war wages on, and the hardy souls stuck in the middle constantly find new ways to survive.
Photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie
“Every night, they start shooting,” Evdokia says with a resigned golden-toothed smile. “This side, then that side. Back and forth. Sometimes in the morning, too. We try to go about our lives like normal, but there’s hardly anybody left."
The 62-year-old babushka adjusts her green kerchief so it sits better on her round jowly face. She’s lived in the village of Kodema all her life. Part of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Kodema lies in what’s known as “the gray zone,” a ten-to-fifteen-mile-wide, 150-mile-long strip of territory separating land controlled by the Ukrainian government on one side and by Russian-backed separatists on the other. The potholed road here cuts through an abandoned checkpoint, one that frequently changes hands between Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) troops and rebel fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR).