Since April 2014, Western Ukraine has been a battlefield between Ukrainiansand pro-Russian separatists.On the front lines nearMarioupol, one of the last big Eastern Ukrainian cities which is still under Kiev's control,the Ukrainian soldiers spend their days alongside cats and dogs.
The majority of these animals were abandoned by their families who were forced to leave their homes in war zones. Left to fend for themselves, they would have probably died from starvation had it not been for the kindness of the soldiers.
In exchange for shelter, warmth and food, the animalsgive an enormousmorale boost to all of the homesick and war-weary soldiers. Cuddling the animals makes them forget the horrors of the war for a moment.
"They are like an anti-depressant — they lift your mood. You call them, and a whole swarm of them comes running your way. And you immediately feel better", said Rodon, amilitary medical attendant, as he fed the dogs.
And the soldiers take great care of the dogs because they are also a huge support for them in battle."Dogs are also an irreplaceable assistant. They work like an alarm when there is a threat. That is because they hear and see much better than people do. They warn us whenever the enemy nears," the young soldier, Pavlo, continued.
All of these animals have no hope of finding their families again. But they have new ones waiting for them. Many of the soldiers have said they are willing to adopt their four-legged friends once the conflict is over.Pavlo concluded saying, "I will name my kitten once I take him home to Kiev."