02/2020 De Volkskrant

In Ukraine, two kilometres of hope


Hope for peace along the frontline in east Ukraine rests on a 2 kilometer stretch of land, the first peaceful strip of borderland since the war began six years ago.

Ahead of a new round of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, a dispatch from the one bright spot in the long-embattled grey zone separating Ukraine from the breakaway lands of the east. With words by Tom Vennink for De Volkskrant.

A weapon rests up against a muddy bunker wall. A soldier sits apart from his rifle. Per a new agreement, this tiny strip of the frontline has been designated a safe zone, and troops have been pulled back. But it’s a shaky peace. On the edges of the safe zone, mortar shells explode and the irregular heartbeat of war continues to echoe through the snow-covered hills. At the Stanytsia Luhanska crossing point, 70 kilometres away, a once bombed-out bridge has just been restored, another possible portent of peace.