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 in training with Donbas battalion poses for a portrait in the weapons hold area. She is rested upon a Maxim gun. She had been applying for months to get her papers to go to front lines, but she was denied - although she was training. Many women struggle to get the permission to go to combat - so many join volunteer fighting battalions such as Aidar or Right Sector in order to bend those gender oriented rules in Ukraine.
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