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As Russia and the U.S. argue over which side is threatening war in Ukraine, for many Ukrainians, the war is now

Tensions along Ukraine's border with Russia
On the front lines of Ukraine's border with Russia as tension escalates 02:31

Avdiivka, Eastern Ukraine — President Biden says there's a "distinct possibility" Russia will invade Ukraine this month. That assertion drew some fiery exchanges at the United Nations Security Council on Monday, as the U.S. pushed Russia to explain to the world why it has massed 100,000 troops around Ukraine's borders.

Moscow's envoy said he didn't even know why the meeting had been called, and he accused the U.S. and its European allies of stoking unfounded fears of war.

The gulf in the two global powers' positions is so vast they can't even agree on whether the Kremlin provided a written reaction on Monday to the Biden administration's response to Russian demands for "security guarantees" from NATO.

A State Department spokesperson in Washington said on Monday that Moscow had delivered a response to the U.S., but that "it would be unproductive to negotiate in public, so we'll leave it up to Russia if they want to discuss their response."

U.S. and Russia clash over Ukraine during UN meeting 03:19

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his government had yet to reply to the counter proposals from the White House — which did not include anything close to what Moscow demanded, including Ukrainian NATO membership being ruled out. Lavrov said Russia would respond to the U.S. when it "sees fit."

But while the two governments argue about who has replied to who and which side is really causing the tension along Ukraine's borders, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports from eastern Ukraine that for thousands of people, it's not a question of when war will start, but if it will ever end.

Williams met Ukrainian troops who live in the freezing trenches that carve up farmland and villages across a vast swath of eastern Ukraine, splitting the country in two. The soldiers she met are already fighting Russian-backed separatists: They've been at war on the far eastern edge of Europe since 2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian soldiers are seen in on February 1, 2022 near a bunker in the vast network of trenches carving up the eastern portion of their country, where they've been battling Russian-backed separatists since 2014. CBS News

The simmering conflict has left devastation and, by the Ukrainian government's count, claimed more than 14,000 lives in the process.

The town of Avdiivka, only around 200 yards from the front line, is battle scarred and broken — a skeleton of its former self with the wreckage of war scattered around its outskirts.

Serhii Leyenkyi, who works for the local government, showed Williams and her team a field planted with a deadly crop: The entire area is a giant minefield.

Eight years ago, the Russian-backed separatists took control of towns and cities across eastern Ukraine, and as the country spiraled into war, Avdiivka became a flashpoint. Its residents were caught in the crossfire and many people fled, left homeless and hopeless.

U.N. Security Council meets to discuss crisis in Eastern Europe 05:51

As the U.S. warns of a possible new Russian invasion, Ukrainians seem remarkably calm — perhaps resigned to the fact that they cannot control their giant neighbor.

Some believe Putin wants a Ukraine that answers to him, rather than an ally of the U.S., and that he intends to use force to get his way. That's not a new idea in Avdiivka, where they've been living with the daily punishment of war for years.

"War is every day difficult, you know. When you don't have water, when you don't have electricity, it's very, very bad," Leyenkyi told CBS News.

Russia insists that it has no plan to invade again, but in Ukraine, Russian aggression isn't a possibility, it is a daily reality.

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