The roads leading south are empty of cars. Fighting intensifies here along this front as Ukraine attempts to retake the city of Kherson.

We traveled with a military escort through checkpoints, along desolate highways, to reach the slowly moving front lines.

The villages have all been heavily shelled – and the situation is getting worse.

The roofs of the houses were pancaked by the impact of the explosions and the fences around them were riddled with shrapnel.

Nowhere is safe here.

But surprisingly, there are a few residents who have decided not to leave.

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Even after all these months of fighting, Ivan tells me he still shivers when the bombs start falling.

“They are bombing, bombing the sea. There are two fires, you can see that. And one fire there. They are bombing every day,” he said.

Attacks happen all the time but it’s worse at night and early in the morning.

Those who stay say they don’t have the resources to leave.

Others are too sick to flee and have no choice but to stay in the line of fire.

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Lubov descends through a trap door into his small house

Lubov shows me where she awaits the barrages from the Russian artillery.

She descends through a trapdoor into her small house, which has been repeatedly hit by shrapnel.

It is a dark and lonely existence as war rumbles above.

“Every night we come here until the morning. During the day, if there is a lot of shelling, we also have to come down. We are afraid. We hide and are afraid. We are waiting for it to end, maybe be,” she said.

After six months of conflict, the remnants of war along the southern front litter the countryside.

Burnt Russian armored personnel carriers (APC) tell the story of a massive attack from Ukraine, on the ground the burnt uniforms of soldiers who perished.

Russian armor was destroyed at the start of the invasion, and the front lines haven’t moved much here for months.

Russian armor
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War waste along the southern front litters the countryside

Ukraine hopes its forces will be able to roll back the Kremlin war machine from areas further south as it launches a counteroffensive.

It is now a war that takes place in vast open and hidden areas in this landscape, artillery teams waiting for coordinates to strike new targets.

But the units stationed here say they need more supplies from the West to win this fight.

Along the line of contact, the trenches stretch for miles.

Infantry units hold defensive positions but wait to advance.

There is concern among soldiers that Western support may fade without steady progress.

Sky's Vasily and Alex Rossi
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Sky’s Vasily and Alex Rossi

But Vasily of the 59th Brigade warns that a defeat here will have consequences for democracies around the world.

“A lot of civilians are dying. The Russians are fighting very dirty. They have no morals, no war ethics. They just came to maraud, kill and rape.”

“If we don’t stop them here on our land, if they take our land and destroy our entire army, they won’t stop here. It’s better to push them back here.”

The troops are 100% confident they can win, but Ukraine says there are signs Moscow is growing increasingly desperate.

Attacks against civilian targets are increasing.

In Mykolaiv, the inhabitants live under the constant threat of bombardments. At a bus stop on the outskirts, seven people were killed recently by a Russian rocket.

The war is entering a new phase here but this conflict will not end anytime soon.

The artillery slugging match for the south will be a slow and deadly grind.

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