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    On eve of NATO meet, Ukrainian troops eye more help amid tough fighting


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    DONETSK REGION, Ukraine (Reuters) – As a key NATO summit approaches in Vilnius, Ukrainian soldiers engaged in fierce battles are urging the alliance to consider Kyiv’s demands for eventual membership. They believe that this may be the only way to bring an end to the ongoing war with Russia. While Ukraine’s forces have made some progress in their summer counteroffensive, the gains have been slower and smaller than anticipated, serving as a stark reminder of the protracted nature of the conflict.

    In the southeastern part of Ukraine’s 1,200 km frontline, Ukrainian marine infantryman Povar, a 32-year-old soldier whose identity is protected, reveals the challenges they face. The Russian forces have established well-fortified trench networks and deployed landmines. Despite capturing the village of Makarivka, Povar acknowledges the need for more substantial support and partners, stating, “When we have such a miserable neighbor, then we need to join some kind of alliance – join the civilized world – to have serious support and serious partners.”

    Although President Volodymyr Zelenskiy admits that NATO membership is unlikely while the war with Russia persists, he remains committed to advocating for it in the future. Ukraine sees joining NATO as the most effective deterrent against Russia’s aggression, which includes the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and a full-scale invasion in February of the following year.

    Another brigade of Ukrainian soldiers, responsible for liberating the nearby village of Neskuchne, conveys a bleak perspective of the battlefield despite their limited gains. Andriy, a 35-year-old serviceman, describes encountering well-concealed Russian defensive lines and heavily mined fields. His unit suffered casualties from these hidden dangers. Andriy emphasizes the stark contrast between offense and defense, asserting, “Attack is not defense. It’s an entirely different war.”

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    Over the past months, Ukraine has launched several attacks on Russian positions in an effort to capture a strategically important land north of the Sea of Azov, connecting the Russian mainland with the occupied Crimean peninsula. These assaults have exposed weaknesses in Russian defenses, prompting adaptations in their battlefield tactics.

    During a recent visit to the frontlines near Bakhmut, Reuters reporters witnessed a field medic attending to a wounded Ukrainian soldier. The medic observes that there is an increasing proportion of small arms wounds due to the offensive nature of their operations. He explains, “In general, a week on the offensive would be the same as a month in defense.” The soldier, known as Yoda, reveals the critical shortage of field medics in their unit due to the high casualty rate.

    Yoda, a 38-year-old field medic for Ukraine’s 57th motorized infantry brigade, explains the challenges they face on a daily basis. The frequent trips to the frontlines and back, often under shelling and enemy drone fire, have resulted in multiple injuries for him and his comrades. Despite the difficulties, Ukraine has made small advances in the area surrounding Bakhmut in recent weeks.

    As the soldiers continue to fight, they hope that NATO will seriously consider Ukraine’s demands for eventual membership. They believe that joining the alliance is their best chance at putting an end to the 300-year-long struggle for independence from Moscow. However, the path to NATO membership may remain uncertain until the war with Russia is resolved.

    Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by MIke Collett-White and Alex Richardson

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    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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