In a heated shelter near the eastern front line, Ukrainian serviceman Dmytro looked on as a mouse sniffed the air and then scuttled behind plastic sheeting insulating the walls and ceiling.

"I didn't see any mice last winter, but this autumn and early winter there have been loads," said the 36-year-old, who operates a BM-21 Grad self-propelled multiple rocket launcher.

His unit is positioned close to the industrial town of Bakhmut, an area of the front line that has seen some of the heaviest fighting of Russia's nearly 22-month invasion.