Every Block Is Another Battle: Ukraine’s Latest Eastern Stand

Nine years later, the Cyborgs find themselves again with their backs against the wall. Powered by patriotism, fatalism and an almost desperate bravado, along with lots of cigarettes and unhealthy energy drinks, they have been pushed back to a few smashed blocks on Marinka’s western edge.

The Ukrainians are so desperate to protect themselves from Russian shelling that when they find a house that is still standing, or at least has a few intact walls, the first thing they do is rip up the floor and dig. Building a hide-out underground is the only way to survive, they said. They live in a warren of tunnels and pulverized basements, in the dark, like moles.

“The Russians outnumber us four to one in soldiers, six to one in artillery,” Captain Fritz said. “Some of their guys are real professionals — you can see it in how they move, their tactics, how their tanks advance two by two.”

“But others,” he shook his head, “they’re just gun meat.”

“Gun meat,” he explained, was untrained Russian troops making blind assaults, whom the 79th claims to have killed in large numbers.

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