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War Is Hell: Pictures From The Front Lines Of Ukraine

Photographer Max Avdeev reports from eastern Ukraine for BuzzFeed News to capture the catastrophic effects of the ongoing war on the region.

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For the last three weeks, Russian-backed rebels have advanced into government-held territory in eastern Ukraine, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. The conflict, which has raged since April, has claimed more than 5,000 lives and displaced over a million people, according to the United Nations. Ukraine's and Russia's presidents are holding a summit on Wednesday in Minsk that European leaders say is the last chance to stop the violence from spiraling into total war.

Last week, rebels took over Vuhlehirsk, a formerly sleepy coal-mining town 38 miles north of the rebel stronghold, Donetsk. When BuzzFeed News visited on Sunday, the town had been all but completely destroyed by weeks of intense artillery bombardments. Only the poorest and most vulnerable locals remain.

Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

Empty shell casings outside Yenakieve, a rebel-held town 10 miles south of Vuhlehirsk. The war has been dominated by retrograde artillery exchanges in recent months: Ukrainian officials say shelling accounts for 70% of casualties among government forces.

Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

"Hulk," 35, came to Ukraine in August after seeing Russian TV coverage of the violence and deciding he had to do something. "I couldn't just sit at home."

Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

"Quiet One," 33, left his wife behind in Russia to fight in Ukraine. "She said, 'If you go, I'll divorce you,' so I said, 'Fine, fuck it, divorce me, then.'"

Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

Rebels firing unguided Grad rockets from Kondratiivka on Sunday. Rights groups say that using the notoriously unguided weapons in populated areas is a war crime.

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