Guerre dans le Donbass contre les separatistes pro russes. Femme soldat ukrainienne
12 September 2018
***PHOTOGRAPHER APPROVAL REQUIRED. FEATURE SALES ONLY. *** 2015-07-08. Outside Dnepopetrovsk, Ukraine.
A woman, who is highly skilled in target shooting, looks through the barb wire fence that separates here from the other soldiers in that moment. She is standing in the weapons hold area. She told me her favourite gun is a sniper rifle, and her dad taught her to shoot as a child. She is a member of Donbas battalion.
This series features female soldiers from both sides of the War in Donbas. The situation has turned into somewhat of a frozen conflict, meaning the war is technically over due to cease-fire agreements, but it's still volatile because both sides refuse to leave their positions. Violent eruptions are few and far between but can take place at any moment. It's not only political goals that keep soldiers on constant guard, it's their inability to feel safe in a post-traumatic stress inducing environment. Now Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples' Republics have de facto control over certain areas, creating a divisive line between Pro-Russian and Pro-Ukrainian troops. This line attracts soldiers of all ages and training levels. Some of these soldiers are volunteers, risking their lives for no payment -- and some of these soldiers are women.
The concept of female soldiers is rather controversial in Ukraine due to old-fashion gender roles and the general attitude that war is "men's business". An example is that it's illegal for women to engage in combat in Ukraine, so those who wish to do so must join volunteer battalions that are often linked to the far-right. Regardless of technicalities -- the status of the war, who started it, the deeply personal reasons behind choosing a side, or corruption in the army -- both sides are caught in a state of turmoil. There is no clear end in sight, but there is a deep silence in parts of the red zone -- most forms of life have fled or were destroyed near the contact line. And there still are some brave women ther