It’s estimated that every month, around 1 million civilians cross the 500 km front line. With few crossings points and strict security checks on both sides, the simple matter of crossing from one side to other is truly a feat of endurance, one which can take many hours and even days.
Seen in these images, one of the busiest crossing points is at Stanytsia Luhanska. Located in the Luhansk Oblast (province), it’s currently the only civilian crossing in that region. With small and inadequate wooden ramps replacing the bridge, long delays are routinely experienced when trying to cross.
Add in rain, snow, freezing temperatures, lack of toilet, seating and covered facilities, not to mention being in a conflict zone and the dangers from the frail wooden structure, then you’ll get an appreciation of the perils of having to travel just a few hundred yards.
With majority crossing from Russian occupied Ukraine, people do so for a variety of reasons. They travel to speak to Ukrainian Government officials, visit friends and family, buy goods (usually in Ukrainian territory), sell goods in Russian occupied territory, collect pensions, receive medical treatment and attend schools. It’s a long list, as are the queues.
Main bridge crosses the Siverskyi Donets River. Just beyond it, on the Ukrainian held side, a smaller concrete bridge (yellow) has been destroyed. Russian led & Ukrainian checkpoints can be seen on the far ends of the road, with the large, dark clusters being a mass of people queuing at checkpoints and grouped around bridges.
Destroyed bridge seen above in March 2015, with no way then of crossing it. In an effort to stop military advances along roads, numerous bridges were blown up in 2014/15.