As Ukrainian soldiers shiver in frontline trenches, their hope is that NATO countries will stop dithering over the decision to send modern battle tanks to help them combat Russian aggression.
A team of journalists from France Télévision was taken to Velyka Novosilka and guided through a maze of snow-capped earthworks in an area the soldiers call the zero line.
They saw soldiers under almost constant bombardment from Russians only a few hundred metres away.
‘Everyone is afraid, all the time, I am also very afraid,’ said one of the commanders. ‘But if my men see it, then they will be stressed too. So officially, I’m not afraid.’
The labyrinth of frozen earth is all that protects the Ukrainians when the bombs fall.
The French team arrived before dawn, the first foreign journalists to visit.
‘The most frightening thing is when we see a tank advancing towards us, when the tank fires, it happens very quickly,’ said another Ukrainian soldier.
Soldiers do not stay more than three days on this zero line, which is constantly under the threat of Russian strikes. After almost a year of conflict, “there is nothing but hatred” for the Russian soldiers, says their commander.
France Télévision’s journalists said the soldiers interviewed agreed more heavy tanks from Ukraine’s European allies are needed.