The Russia-Ukraine war appears to be at a stalemate. But soldiers on both sides are losing at the front lines.

  • The Russia-Ukraine war is entering its third year, and neither side appears to have a significant advantage.

  • But soldiers on both sides of the frontlines are fighting a losing battle.

  • They’ve complained of troop and equipment shortages, and a lack of access to basic necessities.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is about to enter its third year. And as the fight drags on, neither side appears to have a significant advantage.

But soldiers on both sides are fighting a losing battle.

Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have complained for months about bleak conditions on the front lines of the war, from untrained and unequipped conscripts being thrown into the thick of battle to a lack of access to basic necessities like food and medicine.

In Kherson, Ukraine, some Russian soldiers have had to resort to drinking cans of meat mixed with river water to avoid starving to death.

“They drink from the Dnipro River, eat whatever they find under their feet,” one Russian soldier said in a video posted to X last week. The video was translated by Business Insider but has not been independently verified.

“Guys had found one can of stewed meat … cut up a five-liter bottle, poured water from the Dnipro River, boiled it, added canned meat, and slurped it in turns just to not starve to death,” the soldier said.

As the fighting nears its 24th month, Russian soldiers are growing increasingly demoralized, distrustful of military leadership, and desperate to return home.

“There’s no fucking ‘dying the death of the brave’ here,” one soldier in the Kharkiv region told his brother, according to a recording of a January phone call obtained by The Associated Press. “You just die like a fucking earthworm.”

Russia has also been criticized for its bloody “human wave” tactics, which consist of throwing poorly trained troops into the fight.

Russia “continues to show no regard for the lives of its own soldiers, willingly sacrificing them in pursuit of Putin’s goals, while Ukraine continues to fight bravely, effectively, and smartly,” John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesperson, said in October.

But Ukrainian soldiers are fighting their own uphill battle.

One soldier recently told the BBC that some of the marines deployed to defend the Dnipro River from Russian attacks don’t even know how to swim.

Ukraine’s advances on the river have been celebrated as a victory by the country’s leadership, but the soldier said troops on the front line are grappling with heavy equipment shortages and a lack of manpower.

“Several brigades were supposed to be posted here, not individual companies — we just don’t have enough men,” he told BBC.

Ukraine is also in a precarious position in Avdiivka, as Russia doubles down on its efforts to capture the eastern Ukrainian town.

Ukraine recaptured Avdiivka in September, but Russia launched a major new offensive to take it back the next month. And while Ukraine is gaining some ground, it’s doing so at a steep cost.

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