On the Ground

Under an onslaught of Russian troops and drones, Ukraine’s troops say they are ‘screwed’ without US weapons

Askold Krushelnycky travels from Kramatorsk to Chasiv Yar on Ukraine’s eastern front, and hears from soldiers who say they cannot hold on much longer as they are running out of ammunition – even if their own drone attacks are so far keeping the waves of assault at bay

Tuesday 16 April 2024 16:56 BST
Ukrainian troops in Donetsk near the front line
Ukrainian troops in Donetsk near the front line (AFP via Getty)

There is one key thing you notice during a journey by car from Kramatorsk, one of the two major cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region that are still in Kyiv’s hands, to Chasiv Yar, about 25 miles eastwards. It is the fact that the road runs through a landscape that, if captured by the Russians, would allow their artillery to pummel at will huge expanses of territory and enable a rapid advance further into Ukraine’s territory.

Kramatorsk, like every Ukrainian city, is within range of Moscow’s missiles. It has frequently been hit by Russian artillery, which has killed hundreds of its civilians. Soldiers say Russia is conducting a determined and bloody offensive aimed at capturing Chasiv Yar, to open the way to Kramatorsk and the other big remaining prize in Donetsk, Sloviansk.

With what the Ukrainians estimate is a 10-to-1 advantage in the number of artillery shells they possess, the Russians have continued their bombardment for weeks. Thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded storming Chasiv Yar’s defences. Unseasonably warm and dry weather has meant that Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles that would normally be expected to get bogged down and largely stay unused until May or June have instead been active, accompanying Russian infantry on their attacks.

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