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Reporter’s Notebook: On the front lines of Putin’s war against Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine – Boom! An explosion nearby. We turn to look, but the interview continues. Moments later an artillery shell whizzes overhead. Everybody hits the ground.

This type of artillery fire is an hourly occurrence along the Russian border, where we are reporting in the town of Kozacha Lopan.

Ukrainian soldiers sit on infantry fighting vehicles as they drive near Izyum, eastern Ukraine on Sept. 16, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers sit on infantry fighting vehicles as they drive near Izyum, eastern Ukraine on Sept. 16, 2022.
(Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

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Still we need to move, in case more shells are coming. The team quickly jumps into our armored car. As we speed down the road, looking for a safer location, we shoot a quick update.

As we were interviewing the commander, we could hear an artillery shell whiz overhead, I say to the camera. So we got back in our cars, and we’re headed to a safer location.

At our next stop – more incoming fire. Two more shells whistle and explode nearby. Finally, we make it to a destroyed school farther out of town and the incoming stops. 

The heart-pounding experience highlights what Ukrainian soldiers deal with daily as they look to defend the northern border with Russia.

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A Ukrainian flag waves in a residential area of the heavily damaged village of Dolyna in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine after the withdrawal of Russian troops on Sept. 24.

A Ukrainian flag waves in a residential area of the heavily damaged village of Dolyna in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine after the withdrawal of Russian troops on Sept. 24.
(Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Ukrainians launched a massive counteroffensive last month, retaking much of this territory, but battles continue. Further east, the fighting is even more intense.

The following day we visited the front lines in the eastern part of the Kharkiv region, going to a village that was liberated 48 hours prior. In the distance, constant artillery battles rage on. 

 At a destroyed Russian position, the body of a Russian soldier lay in the bushes. 

Civilians wave and smile at Ukrainian soldiers as they drive by, but the moment is short-lived. These troops must head back out closer to the front and liberate more territory.

Trey Yingst reports from the front lines in Ukraine.

Trey Yingst reports from the front lines in Ukraine.

They are fighting for the very survival of their country. And despite the bloody and dangerous battles ahead, they have momentum and they plan to retake more land.

 “Slava Ukraini!” one soldier says as we say goodbye. Translation: “Glory to Ukraine!”

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