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In Photos: Guns and Kittens on Ukraine's Frontline

VICE News spent seven days embedded with the colorful and charismatic characters of a Ukrainian army platoon who feel they've been forgotten by their country and the West.

by VICE News
Nov 30 2015, 12:50pm

Photo de Jack Crosbie

Casper, Conan, Papa, Primus, Sabre, Skeptic. The soldiers of the 2nd Platoon of the 7th Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 93rd Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces — Kuprum (Copper) for short — have shed their former civilian skins to adopt a colorful range of wartime identities.

VICE News spent a week living in the trenches and bunkers of soldiers who feel they have been forgotten by their country and the West, amid a rapidly disintegrating ceasefire.

Amid the grime and the warfare, the men and have learned how to look after themselves — and their pets — with pride.

Related: The Priest, the Pianist, a Cat, and a DIY Sauna: One Week in Ukraine's Forgotten War

Conan, a former member of Ukraine's notorious Berkut elite police force, after returning from an adrenaline-filled scout mission. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

Casper, a young Ukrainian conscript, and Conan walk into the bunker after another recon mission. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

Soldiers roughhouse outside of Position 18, which was battered with mortars, grenades and heavy machine gun fire later that evening. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

The empty tube of a SPG-9 anti tank launcher. The soldiers fire off volleys of rounds during the day to sight in the weapons on rebel positions so they can hit them again when fighting begins at night, when aiming is difficult. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

The church in Pisky hosts a small number of soldiers in its ground floor and basement. They come under enemy fire nearly every night. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

Casper holds his cat Schlyoma, in the bunker. After the war, Casper says Schlyoma is coming home with him. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

Ruslan, the platoon's cook, is also one of its machine gunners, wielding the heavier RPK light machine gun instead of an AK-74 variant. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

2nd Platoon member Oleg speaks to another Ukrainian soldier riding delivery runs around Pisky on a homemade motorcycle. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

A soldier known as Dragon sharpens his knife and smiles after one of the platoon's several kittens climbed onto the back of his neck and went to sleep. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

Bogdan, aka Nuts, and another member of 2nd Platoon duck their heads in a trench after sniper fire cracked through their position. (Photo by Jack Crosbie)

All photos by Jack Crosbie

Follow Jack Crosbie on Twitter: @jcros