Mariupol. September 30, 2014.
Several months have past since the city was in the hands of the pro-Russians. Today, Ukrainian flags flap in the wind and the separatists are hiding. if you take the road to the east, you are confronted at a check point post controlled by the National Guard. The soldiers are tired, and speak little fear of an imminent attack from the Russians.
On the waterfront, a fighter teaches the basics of handling a Kalashnikov in disused naval base. The students of all ages. They simulate fire, disassemble and reassemble awkwardly this classic soviet weapon.The students don’t look like they could deal with another attack and fear is etched on their faces.
Shastia. October 2, 2014.
The sound of tires rolling on the pavement damaged by tank treads, a roar and off again a barrage of the Ukrainian army. There is the dust of the road, hidden behind sun glasses. Passport, press pass, open the trunk, and again dust. We take time to reach top speed.
The city is now the front line. It is a few kilometers from Russia and Lugansk.
In the center, armed men smoke cigarettes against the wall of a store. A woman with a stroller requests help to buy food. And a further blockade by a tire wall guarded by two members of the battalion Aidar.
A captain with us sporting a beret and gold teeth. “No pictures, I have family in the Crimea. BOOM! BOOM! It is a French word, is not it?” His joke and then laughter. His parade is walking on bridge that he protects. In the distance the sound of small arms. “Come and see”. A hundred meters, a tank out of the thickets blasts on the pro-Russian camps.
Amvrosivka. October 6, 2014. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) territoire.
He hitchhiked on the road in military uniform. We stop. In his fifties, with a beard. He has a clear vision of what has taken place and wears proudly his medals.
“I was in Vladivostok. I settled in the Donbass for two years. I was part of the Soviet special forces. I made clandestine missions in Honduras, Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia. In Cambodia, I formed the Khmer Rouge. Fanatics, they killed their own people. And today is the Donbass. I take care of intelligence.”
One wonders why he told us that.