We watch as the Ukrainian jets take off from Severodonetsk, screaming overhead and flying low in order to avoid detection.
It feels like there has been a shift in the atmosphere here in Donbas, a sense of urgency and a feeling that Russia is on the move.
As you drive through the villages and towns of this region, you will notice that there is a steady stream of farm machinery being removed from the areas most at-risk of falling.
This equipment is vitally important to Ukraine’s farming industry. It can’t be lost or stolen in the battle of artillery.
Admirable and to be expected is the persistent insistence of all Ukrainian officials, starting with the president, that Ukraine will drive Russia out of the country.
The reality is that the West hasn’t sent enough heavy artillery and other equipment to Ukraine. They are losing men each day, and what they do have is being used up at an alarming rate.
This is how Russia has recalculated its strategy after its first bungled attempt.
They can easily crush the Ukrainian resistance with their vast arsenal and without having to worry about any game-changing munitions. This is a tried and trusted strategy that Russia has used before. It works.
Russia claims to have 97% of Luhansk.
Next, it will focus on Donetsk, as well as the key cities of Bakhmut and Slovyansk.
After Donetsk was overthrown by the Russian-backed separatists, the governor of Donetsk told me straight from Kramatorsk that the west had promised him a stronghold.
He said, “I don’t just think, I know that the amount of weapons Ukraine needs, the list of weapons for heavy artillery and armoured fighting vehicle, aviation, anti–aircraft systems, and anti-tank missile system, as well as how quickly they can be delivered can impact the quality of defense.”
Southern frontline has barely moved for weeks and weapons are running out
I asked him what he would do if he didn’t get the help he needed.
He replied stoically, “It just means we’ll stand up for our country for so long as necessary and we won’t surrender any inch of territory.”
“We will always protect our land, no matter what the future holds.”
The governor was essentially saying that the fight would continue regardless of whether the government provided assistance.
The outcome of this scenario would be very bad, as there is no chance of a negotiated ceasefire.
These are difficult and crucial times for Ukraine right at the moment.