Screaming above our heads and flying low to avoid detection, we watch Ukrainian jets heading for the frontline battle in Severodonetsk.
In recent days, it feels like there has been a change in the atmosphere here in Donbass – a sense of urgency, a sense that the Russians have momentum.
As you drive through the towns and villages here in the east, you can’t help but notice a steady stream of farm machinery being pulled out of the most fall-risk areas.
Ukraine’s critically important agricultural industry cannot afford to lose this valuable equipment; stolen or destroyed in this artillery battle.
The constant insistence of all Ukrainian officials, from the president to the end, that Ukraine drive Russia out of the country is admirable and predictable.
But the reality on the ground is that the West has not sent enough heavy artillery and equipment that Ukraine needs. What they have is running out at an astonishing rate and they are losing many men every day.
This is what Russia recalculated after its failed initial strategy.
With their vast supplies and no breakthrough munitions to contend with, they can simply crush the Ukrainian resistance. It’s a reliable strategy, Russia has used it before and it works.
Russia has already claimed to control 97% of the Lugansk region.
His sights will then be on the Donetsk region, and the key cities of Bakhmut, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
The Governor of Donetsk, working from the current regional capital of Kramatorsk after the capture of the city of Donetsk by Russian-backed separatists in 2014, told me unequivocally that what had been promised by the West was essential to hold on.
“I’m not just guessing, I know the quantities of weapons that Ukraine needs, the specific list of weapons supplied for heavy artillery, armored fighting vehicles, aviation, anti-aircraft systems , anti-tank missile systems, and how quickly they can be delivered, can affect the quality of defense,” he told me.
Weapons are running out on the southern frontline which has barely moved for weeks
I asked him what would happen if that help did not come.
“It just means that we will defend our country as long as necessary and that we will not give up an inch of our territory,” he replied stoically.
“And no matter what the future holds, we will protect our land.”
In effect, the governor was simply saying that the fight would continue with or without help.
And without any chance of a negotiated ceasefire, the outcome would likely be very bad.
These are difficult and critical times for Ukraine right now.
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Post expires at 10:48pm on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022