Crossing the final checkpoint into a battle zone feels like a consecration.
The Ukrainian soldiers manning the last friendly post have a singular focus and intensity that’s lacking behind the lines. They wave us through solemnly, without smiles or chatter. We coast through the invisible barrier separating the “front” from the “rear,” then floor the gas and accelerate forward.
I’m in eastern Ukraine in late May, in a region called Donbas, where the war has become a whirlwind of carnage that is claiming the lives of as many as 100 Ukrainian soldiers a day.