NOVOTOSHKIVSKE, Ukraine – At 7:36PM on the 11th of January, Viktor Kucherenko was at his post in the Ukrainian army trenches, observing enemy positions a few dozen metres away, when a sniper’s bullet pierced his skull, killing him instantly.
Up until then, it had been a quiet day at the front line in Novotoshkivske, Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine. Ceasefire violations have petered out in recent weeks, as diplomatic talks to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine stepped up.
“As usual, it began with machine-gun fire,” said Timur Stetskyi, Kucherenko’s commanding officer. “Their sniper worked under the cover of that automatic fire. He fatally shot Viktor.”