Position Santa: on the frontline of the war in Ukraine
In the now abandoned industrial outskirts of Avdiivka, Ukraine, volunteer soldiers from the paramilitary group Right Sector fight alongside the Ukrainian army. Their bunker, 100 meters from positions held by separatists troops of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), has been under constant shelling for weeks.
The position's code name is Santa, named for the group's leader. The group is tight knit and has fought in every major battle in the war, always volunteering for the most forward positions.
As the battle escalates, they spend the majority of their time in the relative safety of their underground bunker, emerging only to fire their grenade launcher at any enemy troops who cross the ceasefire line.
As the political situation in Ukraine continues to change, the Right Sector volunteers understand their role in the war is precarious. The army command regularly denies permission to fire into the grey zone. However as freelance soldiers, they occasionally make the decision to fire at DNR troops seen delivering weapons to the front line. While this endears them to regular army soldiers, they know that they can easily be used as a political tool. While a blind eye is turned to certain ceasefire violations they know the can just as easily be blamed for undermining the ceasefire. They understand that their own government may one day turn its back on them. However, they say that they don't fight for the government, but for the people of Ukraine.