The war in Ukraine has been raging for over half a decade now. It has claimed the lives of over 13,000 people and forced thousands more from their homes into a life of uncertainty. Guillaume Chauvin is a war photographer from France who has been on the ground in Eastern Ukraine capturing various aspects of the conflict in the region since it all began back in 2014.
This article showcases some of Chauvin’s most unique work from his time on the frontlines of the War in Ukraine embedded with the separatist forces fighting for the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
10 – Camouflage Net
This is a photo of a man named Erwan, a French foreign fighter who is fighting alongside the separatist forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic. He is seen here preparing to go out on patrol with his face covered by a camouflage net. Erwan is the designated sniper of his unit.
9 – WW2 Weapons used in the War in Ukraine
This weapon is a Soviet anti-tank rifle designed in WW2 to combat the tanks of the German forces on the Eastern Front. Despite being a relic weapon over 70 years old, it is still in use in the war in Ukraine by separatists. One of the fighters using it commented to the war photographer that it was used on the same front by their ancestors against Fascist forces and today they are doing the same thing with the same weapon. Such a mentality is strongly held by ethnic Russians pitched against ethnic Ukrainians.
8 – A Soviet Trench Periscope in the War in Ukraine
This photo shows a fighter of the Donetsk People’s Republic in a trench in the suburbs of the rebel-held capital of Donetsk. He is using a Soviet trench periscope to carry out reconnaissance on enemy positions. Such equipment from the USSR is a prominent feature of this conflict and many others across the post-Soviet world.
7 – The Best Rucking Boots Are Put to the Test in the War in Ukraine
During the winter warfare on the frontline of the War in Ukraine, the best rucking boots are put to the test. This photo captures the mud-caked boots of a sniper fighting for the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
6 – Room Clearance Tactics in the War in Ukraine
This was taken in an area on the Southern Front of the War in Ukraine known as Kominternovo. It shows a unit of the military forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic engaged in combat training. In this photo, they’re honing their room clearance tactics on a local building that has been riddled with bullets. The bulk of the fighting in the War in Ukraine has been urban warfare, thus such room clearance tactics are given a high priority.
5 – The Wounded Sniper
As he takes a position in a bombed-out building, Erwan reminds the war photographer that he always operates as a one-man sniper team and is both the shooter and the spotter whereas a regular sniper team has two men to fill these roles. In the months before this photo was taken, he was brutally wounded by an explosive trap left behind by Ukrainian soldiers. The blast claimed a piece of his arm, but he continues to fight.
4 – Covering Fire in the War in Ukraine
In contrast to other fighters featured in these photos, this soldier is aligned to the special forces of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic or “Spetsnaz” in Russia. Here he can be seen providing covering fire as his fellow troops move to a forward position. He is armed with a Kalashnikov fitted with a grenade launcher and wearing a Russian bulletproof vest.
3 – 21st Century Trench Warfare
Despite the fast-moving nature of the initial stages of the war in Ukraine, these days it has largely descended into trench warfare reminiscent of the First World War. In this photo, a fighter of the separatist forces can be seen carefully making his way through a trench line with a Kalashnikov assault rifle slung over his back.
2 – Russian Damascus Knives at the Frontline
Taken in the suburbs of Donetsk in an area called Yasynuvata, this photo shows the French sniper Erwan tracking targets through his custom Soviet-made sniper rifle. On his belt is one of the Russian Damascus Knives that is often seen on sale in hunting stores and flea markets across Russia, Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries.
1. The War in Ukraine Meets Renaissance Art
This incredibly artistic shot was captured by the war photographer in an officer’s mess located in an underground bunker on the frontline of the War in Ukraine. The men are sitting around passing the time illuminated by artificial light due to an artillery strike cutting out their electricity supply a few days previous. They want until it’s repaired.
The photos and captions for this Eastern Europe Insight article were provided by Guillaume Chauvin. We are always seeking guest writers and content to add to our site. To get your work exposed to a large audience, get in touch with us. We’re open to all pitches, projects, and partnerships.