Nothing but shattered trees and mud are visible from the trench for as far as the eye can see.
Inside the fortifications themselves, filthy troops wade through slicks of freezing mud, waiting for the next artillery barrage.
The photos shared by Ukrainian forces resemble the horrors of Passchendaele or other First World War battles from more than a century ago.
Yet instead they show conditions in the 2022 battle for the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which has become a centre for fighting in the nine-month-old war.
The town, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, has become a byword for heavy shelling and relentless attacks as Russian military commanders desperate for a symbolic victory launch assault after assault trying to dislodge the Ukrainian defenders.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that of all his forces’ battles, the “most difficult” is in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian military sources estimate that on some days hundreds of Russian soldiers have been killed trying to overrun their positions around their town.
The battle mixes early 20th-century warfare with the latest technology. While troops dig into trenches, above them artillery spotters on both sides use drones to improve their aim or drop grenades. Ukrainian forces accuse the Russians of using phosphorus incendiary munitions and thermobaric vacuum bombs.
The fighting has also been characterised by Russia's disregard for its own troops, said Serhii Cherevatyl, a spokesman for the Ukraine military’s eastern front. Russian commanders even referred to their soldiers as “single use”, as they threw them into hopeless attacks on what he called a “conveyor belt of death”.
“They are sending them like meat to find out where our firing positions are,” he told The Telegraph.
“When the first wave is dead and the Ukrainian forces have used up their ammunition, then they attack again.”
He estimated Russian losses to be between 100 and 300 each day in the area. The Telegraph could not independently verify the figures. Ukraine’s forces are also thought to be suffering significant casualties.
With many of the Russian military’s most elite units badly mauled in fighting around Kyiv, the task of taking Bakhmut has fallen to a mix of separatist militias, mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group and newly mobilised reservists.
Julius Terekhov, spokesman for the Ukrainian Army's 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade in Bakhmut, said: "It's really like the First World War. Because of the intense shelling, the trees have been cut down."
The fighting had been so intense that trenches had changed hands several times in the course of a week, he said. Fields had in some places been littered with Russian dead after attacks.
Analysts believe Vladimir Putin is desperate for a victory after a string of battlefield reverses and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner, is throwing everything he can at the town.
Bakhmut’s pre-war population of around 72,000 has fallen by as much as 80 to 90 per cent and those that remain spend much of their time sheltering in basements.
For all Prigozhin’s efforts, the front line has moved slowly and little.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said his recent comments may suggest he is trying to temper expectations for his offensive.
Prigozhin said Wagner Group formations were not trying to take Bakhmut, but instead to wear down Ukrainian forces.
The arrival of early winter has partly slowed the pace of fighting, but, this weekend, Ukrainian forces still reported 190 shell strikes and as many as 50 firefights on a single day.
Overall, the cold season is expected to favour Ukrainian forces, who are better equipped and more disciplined.
Jack Watling, senior research fellow for land warfare at London’s Royal United Services Institute, said: “If you look at Ukrainian fighting positions they tend to be well kept.
“People tend to have warm clothing and defensive lines often have areas that are kept clean, dry, and warm. Company commanders build these close to fighting positions.
“Russian junior leadership has been heavily attrited. The newly mobilised personnel do not have the experience or skills to operate for extended periods in the field. They have not been issued with winter clothing for the most part. Their fighting positions are often a mess.”