A sprawling, heavily fortified line runs along the banks of the Seversky Donets River, splitting a territory that has changed hands between Ukrainian forces and the separatists of the Luhansk People's Republic multiple times throughout the last six months of fighting. This frontline in east Ukraine, nine miles (16km) from Luhansk city, has become a land entrenched in anger and paranoia.
Here, aside from the small minority of civilians who have not been able to flee the fighting, only men and women who will freely kill and die for a monthly stipend of 1000 hryvnia ($63) remain. But while there has been much media coverage and focus on the strategic frontline town of Schastiye, or "Happiness" as it translates in Ukrainian and Russian, it is in villages such Tr'okhizbenka where the realities and stories of this war are too often ignored.
From their outpost overlooking enemy positions, a rag-tag band of commandos watch their prey; brutally striking a counter-insurgency against separatists they view as terrorists, and more recently, observing the movement of artillery positions, as mechanized divisions skillfully attempt to catch out their opponents in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Prior to the ceasefire, shelling would start at 10am. By late afternoon and with the last gasp of daylight, Grad missiles were brought into play. The nights were filled with endless, earth-shaking hammer blows of set-piece explosive thunder; blinding bursts of fire momentarily piercing the suffocating darkness.
Despite the current period of calm, credited to a renewed attempt to adhere to the September ceasefire accord, members of the commando platoon stationed near Tr'okhizbenka operate a skeletal and ruthlessly spartan operation. There are no appeals, no second chances for mistakes or misdemeanours. A curfew or "commandant's hour" starts at 8pm. Those found beyond the safety of the outpost's perimeter after that will be shot, regardless whether they are friend or foe. Orders are simple: kill first and ask questions in the morning. Always.
For them, there has been no ceasefire — no orders to hold back, beyond an official ban on active offensives. Until there is clarity, they continue to aggressively defend their homeland.
These commandos were specially selected for their ability to perform multiple roles and functions: the chef operates the APC gun turret; the mechanic is a sniper; one soldier trains the others to improve their hand-to-hand combat; there are medics, chaplains, explosive specialists and a martial arts expert. All of them thrive as hunters.
Firewood is stacked beside crates of ammunition — two of the most vital commodities on the frontline, closely monitored as winter encroaches and bitter winds penetrate bone and spirit.
The soldiers take turns to collect and cut the wood, each one knowing that despite temperatures already reaching an average -14 ºC at night, the weather will only get worse.
Smiles spread across faces as they proudly explain and deconstruct their winter attire. They are grateful for the donations of clothing that are delivered with their weekly supplies: boots from Canada, jackets from Germany, base layers from their families back home. Above all else, without the support of their families and countless other households across Ukraine, they would simply not survive.
Over the last six months, these men have fought together, lived, eaten and mourned as one entity. During the quieter moments, they occupy their time with sports, artful games of chess and continuous training. To do otherwise would be to surrender their minds to the madness of conflict, one artillery shell at a time.
But once you look beyond the brutality of their war, become accustomed to the fact that they all keep a grenade close at hand — the eastern European equivalent to a jihadist's suicide belt — and overcome the fear of going to the toilet while tank shells whistle overhead, you see true emotional interaction and an expression of a tenderness that is often ignored under such circumstances.
These soldiers are, after all, simply human. They love their food, love to laugh and share stories of loved ones waiting for them back home. Making tea is an honored event and discussing the future a sobering reminder of why they are here.
There are veterans from almost every war since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and veterans of conflicts closer to home, football hooligans from the west of Ukraine and homeless men from the war-torn east.
Akin to Peter Pan's lost boys, men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities have flocked to this war. They are pulled from various forms of ostracization, rejuvenated by nationalistic causes and driven by the ideal of fighting for a utopian motherland. The best of them find their way to Tr'okhizbenka.
Follow Louis Dowse on Twitter: @DwseL