A soldier of Ukrainian self-defence battalion "Azov" stands guard at their base in Mariupol

Ukraine Troops In Call For Better Arms

 On the highway between Donetsk and Mariupol in eastern Ukraine near the village of Volnovakha, there stood a military transporter with an old, self-propelled artillery gun and tired-looking men perched on it.

Having spent several hours trying to find the Ukrainian military, the Sky News team decided to pull over and speak to them.

They told us they got separated from the column when the engine of their transporter got overheated – again – as they were making their way from a mission near the town of Starobesheve.

The soldiers asked our team to tell the checkpoint on the outskirts of Mariupol that they had broken down because they had no other way of informing their commander.

“We are too close to the rebel-held territory here. If we don’t get help quickly, we will not survive the night,” said Artyom, 22.

The men told us they had earlier engaged with a Russian military convoy closer to the border.

“The APCs (armoured personnel carriers) that we were fighting against had a parachute painted in the front. That’s a symbol of Russian paratroopers,” said Artyom.

“They are not even hiding anymore. I have seen with my own eyes the Russian military convoy crossing from Russia into Ukraine on August 18, but no one believes us.”

A few kilometres away we met another Ukrainian military vehicle on its way to the front line, and one of the officers agreed to talk to us anonymously.

Petro (not his real name) said he was 28, had a wife and three children and had been serving in the Ukrainian army for nine years.

He was angry with the policies of the government in Kiev which he regarded as too indecisive, and warned that if it continued the army would turn and march on the capital.

Petro criticised Western politicians for not supporting Ukraine with positive action. What they needed, he said, was modern equipment and arms, not words.

We have many patriots who want to defend their country, but people are just scared to fight with tanks and APCs that are 30 to 40 years old,” he said.

His call was echoed by members of the volunteer Azov battalion on the outskirts of Mariupol like 27-year-old Roman.

Roman, a veteran of nine firefights, said the sneakers he was wearing had been sent to him by his brother who lives in Florida.