Donetsk, 02/28/22. Early within the morning at seven o’clock I’m picked up by three massive vehicles, two of that are marked with a big white “Z”. I knew this mark from the Web, all Russian automobiles of the navy operation in Ukraine carry it. I’m supposed to sit within the automobile and not using a “Z”, along with an American and a Russian journalist. The opposite two automobiles grow to be assist automobiles, by which closely armed troopers are touring to indicate us the best way and to guard us.
We head south – to the entrance the place troopers of the Donetsk Individuals’s Republic and the Russian military are at present dashing by way of villages within the Donbass which were below Ukrainian management for years. I’m excited to see what we might see there. However earlier than we actually get going, we cease at a fuel station, as a result of the touring group needs to have espresso with chocolate bars and mini-croissants for breakfast. I decline with thanks, however they hand me a cappuccino and a bar of chocolate. Some troopers feed mini croissants to a avenue canine that watches us eat with massive begging eyes. Then we lastly get going — with a bulletproof vest over my door window and a number of other weapons between our toes, which I discover a bit creepy.
For about an hour we drive on muddy roads between fields and villages. On the best way we see quite a lot of tanks, artillery deployed within the discipline, limitless navy convoys and, above all, broken homes. The infamous “Z” is emblazoned on all automobiles. I ask my colleagues what that may imply; They are saying they’ve heard a number of variants – the commonest clarification being “Zorro”. As an indication that the armed forces of Russia and the Donbass republics can be used to revive justice.
For eight years, the Ukrainian armed forces had downright terrorized the Donbass inhabitants, firing snipers at civilians dwelling within the border space, attacking faculties and even finishing up humanitarian assist operations. I actually had traveled to those border areas a number of instances and noticed the struggling with my very own eyes – and heard the photographs of the Ukrainian troopers.
We attain the primary village the place we wish to shoot: Nikolaevka. Solely two days earlier it had been “liberated”, as they are saying right here, from Ukrainian management. We get out of the automobile, my eyes instantly fall on a church with an attractive golden dome, half of which appears prefer it has been torn off. Our driver launched himself to me once more and defined that he was a bodyguard and that I ought to all the time hold a watch out for him in harmful conditions. Understood. We stroll in the path of the church and move an nearly fully destroyed residential constructing. I take a look at the courtyard, the colourful kids’s toys that shine out of the rubble there.
Instantly, a deafening explosion shakes the realm and I mechanically soar into the arms of the bodyguard. He laughs somewhat and explains that this is able to have been a shot “of ours”. Extra photographs observe and I simply can’t get used to it. The war-experienced “previous palms” round me need to smile.
After we’ve received a couple of photographs within the can, we head south. Instantly, our escort automobile forward makes a pointy left flip and backs as much as flip round. We’re advised to do the identical. We flip round, move a small navy automobile, from which some troopers out of the blue soar and rip open our doorways. In a panic they ask us to take us a couple of meters, Ukrainian snipers have simply shot their tires. The troopers squeeze into our infantColumn and we race off. We’re requested what the hell we’re doing right here, a Ukrainian tank simply pulled up throughout the road. From the window, I out of the blue see dozens of snipers mendacity subsequent to one another with rifles, aiming in a single path. We will need to have by chance reached the entrance of the entrance.
In any case the thrill we drive to the village of Starognatovka, the primary avenue of which is stuffed with Russian and Donetsk navy automobiles. All engines are working, the noise is difficult to think about. We cease on the village store, the place I communicate to a girl if she want to inform me a couple of phrases in regards to the present state of affairs and the experiences of the previous few days. She instantly bursts into tears, asks what to say, it was hell. Earlier than the “Z” troops got here, the Ukrainians would have shelled the village massively, for days the residents would have huddled in cellars, with out sleep, usually with out meals. The outlets had been closed. A number of homes had been badly broken or destroyed, and a few neighbors misplaced their lives. Because the Russians got here, every thing isLastly peaceable once more, she says, she has been in a position to sleep once more for 2 days and the outlets are open once more. I thank her and hug her tightly. We proceed strolling by way of the village, speaking to totally different native residents who inform us precisely the identical story. Then we return to Donetsk – there was not sufficient fuel for a very long time and there have been no fuel stations within the space. Again in Donetsk we made an appointment for one more entrance journey the following day.
Addendum: The occasions described on this article are true and truly occurred. They’ve been documented by me with images and movies. The fabric was and will likely be printed on my Telegram channel t.me/neuesausrussia and on Peertube below “Information from Russia”.