“They will not pass, I am 100% sure of this”

About 30 kilometers north of Kyiv, the Ukrainian army has established defensive lines that have so far prevented Russian troops from advancing towards the capital. The supply of anti-tank missiles by Western countries gives the Ukrainian military courage and hope. Exclusive reportage of the Ukrainian security forces.

Checkpoints follow one after another on an empty highway. At the turn of concrete blocks and stacked sandbags, we see several burnt buildings, dented and faulty civilian and military equipment. Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, this area, located northeast of Kyiv, has been the scene of many battles.

In military jargon, this is called a strategic lock. If the Ukrainian army concedes there, the Russian army could enter the city of Kyiv and also have a clear path to one of the three airports that serve the Ukrainian capital.

Accompanied by a Ukrainian soldier, who until recently was a journalist, we headed towards the position that the Ukrainian forces “held” for three weeks, he explained to us. Oleksandr, apparently, has never fired a shot in his life, but for three weeks now, panting from a trellis on his back, he has been in charge of public relations for the Ukrainian army.

Having quickly swallowed coffee in an abandoned factory, we join the soldiers from the 72nd regiment.as well as brigade. We pass a bridge topped with an anti-tank rocket launcher and on which hangs a banner in Russian: “Welcome to hell.” The invaders have been warned…

The emblem of the 72nd brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stationed north of Kyiv, March 17, 2022. © David Gormesano

Finally, we come to one of the defensive lines preventing the Russian army from entering the Ukrainian capital. We are told that the enemy may be 500 meters or 5 kilometers away. Several shots from machine guns and more muffled explosions disturb the tranquility of this corner of Ukrainian nature.

A column of black smoke is visible a few hundred meters from the Russian car, which has been on fire for several days. Small groups of soldiers stand guard, fiddling with heated shelters to endure the still chilly March temperatures.

“We have electricity, water, food. We are not hungry and have been holding our positions since February 24,” says Fireman, a 23-year-old private. “If everything is silent, it is because the enemy suffered greatly. Our tanks destroyed them, and we destroyed thirty Russian vehicles. On the contrary, we believe that they have only two tanks left in combat condition. I think that the Russians really do not there should be more morality.”

Although no one knows exactly the extent of the losses on both sides, it cannot be denied that the Russian troops did not manage to break through there, although they tried several times. “I am 100% sure that my brigade will not let the Russians into Kyiv because we are on our own land. Most of the soldiers in this position are from the region. Some have seen their houses destroyed by the Russians, which makes us very motivated.”

A little further on, a man steps out of his white Japanese sedan. “It’s a hybrid,” he proudly tells us. A volunteer, mobilized from the first days of the war to support the army, came from a nearby village to make sure that the soldiers did not need anything.

A volunteer from the region provides the fighters with food and materials to hold this position, about thirty kilometers from Kyiv.
A volunteer from the region provides the fighters with food and materials to hold this position, about thirty kilometers from Kyiv. © David Gormesano, France 24

“I started digging trenches, then I dug up everything that the soldiers needed. Food and everything else: firewood, nails, medicines, clothes and, of course, hot meals prepared at the headquarters by volunteers.

Before “the Russians crushed everything under their boots,” he worked in a timber company. Like the Fireman, he never doubts victory for a moment. “I am 100% sure that the Russians will not go any further. They need a thousand tanks! Tactically, they are losing because our defenses are significantly strengthened, we have tanks, artillery, ammunition, weapons.

For many observers, the emergency delivery of man-portable anti-tank missiles by Western countries to the Ukrainian army since January has undoubtedly changed the situation. On this line of defense we find dozens of empty shells from these missiles on the side of the passage. And in the log bunkers scattered across the trenches, we saw more crates of ready-to-use missiles.

Cases of man-portable anti-tank missiles used by Ukrainian forces north of Kyiv, March 17, 2002
Cases of man-portable anti-tank missiles used by Ukrainian forces north of Kyiv, March 17, 2002 © David Gormesano, France 24

“What you have seen are anti-tank missiles, Javelins, Stugnas, NLAWs, and we have many more in other positions,” says Pompierre. Accordingly, American, Ukrainian and British production, they became the emblem of the stubborn Ukrainian resistance to the “special operation” launched by Vladimir Putin.

Calm and taciturn, the young soldier, however, adds: “We are grateful for the help from abroad to fight for the freedom of Ukraine. But I think that sanctions are not what will be marching. The real sanctions are our artillery and our troops. “.

The resistance of the powerful and massive Russian army seems to have forged a steel fighting spirit in the soldiers who have been in this position for three weeks now. “We have the best tactics, and we have allies who supply us with weapons,” adds a volunteer who cares about the well-being of soldiers.

On the way back, Alexander, our guide, explains to us that the General Staff decided not to put up a stationary defense for the defense of Kyiv, which can be destroyed by Russian aircraft, but to build a mobile defense capable of maneuvering. easily.

A bold choice that has so far allowed the Ukrainian capital to somehow resist. The former journalist, now dressed in khakis, ends the conversation with a quote attributed to former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, born in Kyiv in 1898: “We want to stay alive, but our neighbor wants us to die. This is a situation that leaves little space. for a compromise.

Kyiv defense in pictures

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