As eastern Ukraine is rocked by secessionist protests, FRANCE 24’s correspondent went to visit Ukrainian military units sent to the Russian border to deter a Crimea-style annexation. Watch the exclusive video report.
The Ukrainian government has accused Moscow of stirring up unrest in its eastern cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk to create a pretext to send in troops and take another piece of the country.
FRANCE24’s correspondent in Ukraine, Gulliver Cragg, visited Ukrainian troops deployed to the border regions near the city of Kharkiv (the soldiers asked that their exact location not be revealed).
Troops in this tank maintenance unit told FRANCE 24 they were in good spirits, despite their ageing vehicles.
"The main thing is our morale is high. Because without that, you don't get anywhere. In terms of our equipment, well, you can see!" said a young soldier.
"Strongest army in the world"
Local residents were not impressed with the military deployment. A businessman with a villa near the Ukrainian tank unit said the reinforcements would not be enough to stop Russian forces from rolling in, should Putin give the order to cross the border.
"Russia has the strongest army in the world, even stronger than NATO. What's Ukraine compared to that? Our army hasn't got the equipment, hasn't got the new technologies..." said businessman Anatoly.
Villagers near the border tank unit insisted that the situation in the region was "peaceful and quiet" and that an invasion was unlikely. Virtually everyone here has family on both sides of the border.
"You're asking me to imagine there's a war and I'm going to shoot... my brother or someone is going to come from up there and I'm going to shoot him?! That will never happen!" Aleksander, a farmer, told FRANCE 24.
Date created : 2014-04-08