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AFP
April 18, 2021

Ukraine’s battle-hardened troops say ready to repel Russia

World

AFP
April 18, 2021

ZAYTSEVE, Ukraine: On the frontline in Ukraine’s east, battle-weary soldiers are sceptical that US sanctions against Moscow and Kiev’s appeal for Nato help will deter Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Faced with the largest deployment of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders since 2014, President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested more tangible help from the West, but many Ukrainian troops say they know they are on their own.

"We should only count on ourselves," Taras Mykytsey, a 52-year-old soldier, told AFP in the frontline village of Zaytseve north of the separatist stronghold Donetsk.

The separatists, who have carved out two "People’s Republics" in eastern Ukraine, are backed by Russia.

"While we are waiting for something to be sent to us, Putin will not wait," added Mykytsey, sporting a helmet and a bulletproof vest.

Yuriy, a 29-year-old senior sergeant based near the town of Shchastya in the neighbouring Lugansk region, struck a similar note, saying he did not expect Western boots on the ground any time soon.

"What foreign country would want to send its people to their death?" he said.

Yuriy, who declined to give his last name, added that the Russian president would not buckle.

"Sanctions and negotiations, can, of course, restrain Russia a little, but in general, these negotiations for Putin, it’s like throwing sand against the wind," he said.