People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak

Crossing through the only corridor that remains open for people in Ukraine’s Luhansk region to navigate the so-called line of contact.

People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
The approach to the checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska, on the edge of Kyiv-held territory in the Luhansk region. Fighting in the area continues between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in a conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it began in 2014.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
The majority of those making the crossing are retirees from separatist-held territory coming to collect their pensions from Ukraine’s central government.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Near a checkpoint controlled by the Ukrainian military, a bank machine (right) is in regular use and is refilled with cash each day.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
A woman having her passport checked by a Ukrainian official.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Ukrainian soldiers search belongings before people can begin the long march to separatist-held territory.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Boxes being weighed on a frosty set of scales. At 74.2 kilograms, this man’s load falls just within the 75 kilograms each person is allowed to cross with.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Once the checks are complete, the journey through no-man’s land begins. Separatist checkpoints lie nearly 5 kilometers away.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
For the mostly elderly people who make the crossing, it’s an arduous journey. Around four out of five of those who make the crossing are pensioners.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
For the frail and disabled, the trip is impossible without enlisting relatives or hiring porters to help.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
An elderly woman being pushed on her winter-modified wheelchair.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
On either side of the pedestrian corridor, land mines lurk beneath the fresh snow.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Nina Nikolayevna works as a porter, dragging goods between the warring sides. The 79-year-old earns 200-400 hryvnyas ($7-14) per trip, but only one one crossing with cargo is allowed per day.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Nikolayevna at work, pushing a load of fruits and vegetables through slushy snow toward separatist-held territory. Such fresh items are significantly more expensive in the separatist region.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
A young family heading toward separatist-held territory.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
Signs of the heavy fighting that tore the area apart, particularly in the early days of the war, remain alongside the roadway.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
A last Ukrainian flag marks the edge of territory safe for RFE/RL’s correspondents. In the empty houses on the hill, snipers often set up after the “border” closes at 5 p.m. A Ukrainian soldier was wounded by a sniper firing from this hill around one week before RFE/RL visited.
People crossing Stanytsia Luhanska checkpoint photo by Andriy Dubchak
The farthest point our photographer walks before returning to government-held territory. A little farther on is a bridge that was destroyed by separatist forces in 2015. There appears to be little political will on either side to fix or replace the bridge.

Publesher at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

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