In the Donbass, Ukrainian soldiers between fatigue and determination

In the Donbass, Ukrainian soldiers between fatigue and determination

“Of course I’m tired. » In front of a hospital in Kramatorsk punctuated by the comings and goings of Ukrainian soldiers, Vladislav, drawn features, sand-colored hat on his head and Kalashnikov pressed against his chest, does not try to hide the obvious. This 23-year-old sergeant in the paratroopers – he will not give his last name, like all the other Ukrainian soldiers who normally do not have the right to speak with the press – has, he says, no been able to take advantage of only one leave since the beginning of the war.

→ ANALYSIS. Between ambushes and heavy artillery: how the Ukrainian army stands up to Moscow

“I am a manager, and there are few managers, so we do not rotate”, he explains. Neither permission nor the possibility of seeing their families for this group of soldiers belonging to an infantry unit, met in the same town. “Anyway, most of our families have been evacuated far from here,” notes one of the soldiers, who introduces himself as Oscar.

“Today there are no limits”

Located in the heart of the salient that the Russian army has been seeking since the beginning of its invasion to reduce, suffocate and destroy, Kramatorsk, an industrial city which in 2014 became the capital of the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control, took in May looks like a transit town for the Ukrainian war effort.

The few inhabitants who have not yet fled the region come across an uninterrupted ballet of ambulances and military tankers, armored vehicles, but also a whole battery of civilian vehicles used by the Ukrainian army and sometimes embellished under cloudy skies. with an identifying green tape strip.

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→ ANALYSIS. NATO: Moscow promises to adapt in the event of Swedish and Finnish membership

Several of the soldiers met in Kramatorsk by The cross were already deployed in the region at the dawn of the Russian invasion. They then operated along a front line of nearly 450 kilometers which had, as of 2016, remained relatively static, the Ukrainian army and the separatists under Moscow’s tutelage then clashing with artillery duels. and small forays. “But that had nothing to do with it. At the time, there were forbidden calibers, today there are no longer any limits”, explains one of them with reference to the Minsk agreements, which prohibited the presence of heavy artillery on both sides of the front line.

“They are primitive”

In Kramatorsk, “they want to surround the city, but they won’t succeed”, assures today “Oscar”, assault rifle in one hand, kebab in the other and bottle of orange juice under the armpit. Almost all of the Crusader soldiers portray an incompetent Russian army.

“Cannon Fodder”, loose Vladislav. “They are totally primitive”, think “Oscar”. “They are unable to plan, try to capture kyiv in three days and then change plans, they place no value in the lives of their men,” considers for his part Oleg, a sniper-scout who operated in early May in the Kharkiv region. Hardly a soldier encountered in a village not far from the front line dares to qualify: “We must not underestimate them, they know how to fight, they are dangerous. »

Two major victories for the Ukrainian army

In front of the van he uses to go to the front, painted khaki green and pierced with shrapnel in the side, Vladislav also evokes the increased caution of Russian soldiers. “If a Russian infantry fighting vehicle approaches the front line, it will very quickly leave after disembarking its soldiers, because they are afraid of being destroyed quickly, he describes. Russian units have very poor communications, and often shoot themselves. » Unverifiable assertions but which tell, at least, the motivation of a Ukrainian army which considers itself today largely superior to its Russian counterpart.

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→ REPORT. War in Ukraine: in Kharkiv, May 8 between fear of Russian strikes and confidence in victory

After three months of war, the Ukrainian army has two major victories to its credit: the battle for the capital kyiv, and that of Kharkiv, the country’s second city, which saw the Ukrainian forces repel the Russian army until the border. A war dominated above all by cannon fire.

“The reality is that we snipers don’t have much to do. At this stage, we are in an artillery war, ” recognizes Oleg, a veteran of the 2014 conflict. Three months after the start of the conflict, both Moscow and kyiv are still avoiding revealing the very sensitive figure of their military losses in a war that the two belligerents now think of in the long term.


The G7 at the bedside of Ukraine

May 19 and 20the big moneymakers of the G7 (United States, Japan, Canada, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany) are meeting in Germany.

G7 members have until Friday to complete a new round of funding to cover the Ukrainian budget for the current quarter.

To turn the country around, kyiv asks for 5 billion dollars (4.7 billion euros) per month.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should cause a massive contraction of the Ukrainian economy, estimated at 30% by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and even 45% by the World Bank.


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