At the front in eastern Ukraine, distant artillery duels mix with tank assaults and vicious firefights.

The impact of a tank round cracked the bunker’s plaster roof and sent uniformed men scrambling. Flak jackets and helmets were flung on and automatic weapons cocked. Amid a crescendo of machine gun fire, a tall soldier slung an anti-tank missile launcher over one shoulder and took a slow drag on his cigarette.

The Russians were close.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has mostly occurred at a distance, with Ukrainian and Russian forces lobbing artillery at one another, sometimes from dozens of…

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