The bad job of a fisherman shows the ferocity of the fighting in Ukraine

Artur Cherepovskiy, a Ukrainian fisherman, knows it’s been a bad day on the front lines if he can’t catch any carp in a river running towards the hills where the Russians are hiding.

Cherepovskiy, 32, lowers a net on a rope from a bridge overlooking the Kazeniy Torets River and hopes the rumblings in the distance won’t scare away his dinner.

“They get scared when there’s shelling. There has to be silence when fishing,” he says, shaking his head at the endless battles raging on Ukraine’s eastern front in the third month of the Russian invasion.

“I used to catch five or six the size of my palm in a day. And now, in times of war, I may not catch a single one. It depends on the intensity of the shelling. When they are heavy, the fish swim towards the bottom”.

Cherepovskiy Bridge in Slovyansk is located near two symbolically significant cities of Donbas.

The takeover of Slovyansk by Russian-backed insurgents in 2014 sparked years of fighting that culminated in an all-out invasion by President Vladimir Putin’s forces on February 24.

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Ukrainian troops managed to recapture the city and established an administrative center for the conflict in neighboring Kramatorsk.

Both are now the target of a Kremlin offensive that has been seizing bits of Ukrainian territory, but has failed to deliver the coup de grâce that Putin might have sought in time to coincide with the annual Victory Day celebrations — the day as Russia celebrates victory in World War II in style — this Monday.

– ‘Stay alive’ –

The Kazeniy Torets River meanders around farms and forests until it intersects with another river that delimits Russian and Ukrainian troops.

The Russians are trying to push south through this network of rivers, with their sights set on Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

The Ukrainians have counterattacked by transporting their best units there to ensure that the Russians cannot establish a front on their side of the river.

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