"The main food for us now is dry rations, and if we manage to heat it up sometimes, it automatically becomes festive,” a platoon sergeant with the call sign "Psycho" currently fighting in eastern Ukraine, tells Kyiv Post.
“Because in the cold weather, when food and water were freezing, sometimes we just had to bite the ice and the contents of the dry rations.”
For the last nine Christmases, Ukrainian troops have spent the festive period in trenches fighting Russia, and in even greater numbers since the launch of the full-scale invasion last year.
Memories of a civilian Christmas are at the forefront of their minds.
“My wife and I always went to Zakarpattia for both New Year's and Christmas and celebrated it with our family.
“It's a great feeling to sit together at the festive table and enjoy the warmth and comfort of home.”
War has drastically changed his perspective on what counts as a Christmas treat.
“At the front, I was glad to have survived, to have received goodies from my family and volunteers, and to have been able to take a break from the war with my comrades-in-arms for at least a minute,” he says.
But as Sergeant Rodriguez, the commander of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit, told the Kyiv Post, "no one is in a festive mood."
"I talked to a young comrade-in-arms at the war. He said he doesn't want to celebrate anything, if they let him go home for the holidays he would think about it, but otherwise he doesn't care," says Rodriguez.
However, Rodriguez himself plans to decorate the car he lives in.
"I will definitely decorate the car I live in with garlands, put a small Christmas tree and put a gift under it that Santa gave me in the fall through my parents."
Sergeant Rodriguez poses in front of a Christmas tree. PHOTO: Kyiv Post.
There is little hope of a lull in the fighting on Christmas Day.
"If the fighting stopped, it would be great, but the Russians have a tradition of ‘congratulating’ the Armed Forces of Ukraine with shelling,” Psycho says.
“They shell especially hard on holidays.”
But there is an especially bright piece of news helping Psycho get through a Christmas without his family.
"My biggest dream will soon come true, I will become a dad," he says.
“So now I wish for the same thing as the rest of us – the end of the war and for our self-proclaimed older brothers to forget about us forever."
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