Ukraine war: There’s a change of atmosphere in Donbas – a sense that Russia has momentum

Screaming overhead and flying low to avoid detection, we watch as Ukrainian jets head to the frontline battle in Severodonetsk.

In recent days it feels like there’s been a change of atmosphere here in the Donbas – a sense of urgency, a sense that the Russians have momentum.

Driving through towns and villages here in the east, you can’t help but notice a constant stream of farm machinery being moved back from areas most at risk of falling.

Ukraine’s crucially important farming industry can’t afford to lose this valuable equipment; either stolen or destroyed in this battle of artillery.

The ongoing insistence by all Ukrainian officials, from the president down, that Ukraine will push Russia out of the country is admirable and to be expected.

But the reality on the ground is the West hasn’t sent enough of the heavy artillery and equipment Ukraine needs. What they have is being used up at an astonishing speed and they are losing a lot of men every day.

This is what Russia has recalculated after its initial bungled strategy.

With its vast supplies and no game-changer munitions to face, they can simply grind down Ukrainian resistance. It’s a trusted strategy, Russia has used it before, and it works.

Russia has already claimed it controls 97% of the Luhansk region.

Its sights will be on the Donetsk region next, and the key towns and cities of Bakhmut, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

The governor of Donetsk, working from the current regional capital Kramatorsk after Donetsk city was taken by the Russian-backed separatists in 2014, told me in no uncertain terms that what had been promised by the west was critical to holding ground.

“I don’t just suppose, I know that the amounts of weapons that Ukraine needs, the specific list of weapons provided for heavy artillery, armoured fighting vehicles, aviation, anti-aircraft systems, antitank missile systems, and how fast they can be delivered, can influence the quality of defence,” he told me.

Read more:
Weapons running out on southern frontline that has barely moved in weeks

I asked him what would happen if this help didn’t come.

“It just means that we’ll stand for our country for as long as needed and we won’t give up any inch of our territory,” he responded stoically.

“And it doesn’t matter what the future brings us, we will protect our land.”

In effect the governor was simply saying that the fight will go on with or without help.

And with no chance of a negotiated ceasefire, the outcome of this would likely be really bad.

These are tough and critical times for Ukraine right now.

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