Near Bakhmut, a small Ukrainian unit, hiding behind bushes, managed to target Russian positions in Bakhmut with old Soviet howitzers, but after three attempts, the firing mechanism wasn’t working properly.

The third attempt succeeded… Moments later, when a voice announced on the radio that the target had been hit, cheers rose among the unit’s soldiers.

“Of course, we want more modern and sophisticated weapons so that we can get in and out undercover quickly,” said the commander of the group, known in the war as “Satan”.

“With our devices, it’s not going well,” the 38-year-old group commander added.

During the exchange of artillery fire between Russia and Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022, speed is essential.

Bombing exposes the center of unity, and the response is often immediate.

However, for some units, modern Western weaponry is just a dream.

The equipment often dates back to the 1970s and is difficult to use and prone to breakdowns.

“In our position on the front, Western support didn’t reach us,” said Private Valery, 48, a former port worker.

“We’re still using old Soviet weapons, and old missiles as well,” he added.

Nevertheless, Ukraine is making progress.

In the vicinity of Bakhmut, the industrial city that the Russian army seized in May after a devastating months-long siege, the Ukrainian army has made some gains in recent weeks.

Soldier Alex, 27, noted successes in the midst of hardship.

“We share about 80% of our goals… Maybe not on the first try, but usually on the third” he said with a smile.

The areas where Western weapons are used are secretive as they are strategic, although Kiev’s desire to cut off the land corridor linking Russia to Crimea in southern Ukraine is well known.

Bakhmut, located in the east of the country, has more symbolic than strategic value.

The siege of the city, which lasted about a year, is reminiscent of some of the major battles of World War II.

Since the fall of the city, the Ukrainian army has retreated to be stationed in its vicinity and launched operations to target the Russian forces stationed there, with the aim of being able to recover it.

“It seems that we are starting to work better now, and the Russians are becoming calmer,” the group commander of the artillery unit said.

However, he seemed cautious in his expectations, noting that as for the decision before the end of the summer, I cannot confirm that.

Ukrainian soldiers and Kiev supporters fear that this summer will be the last opportunity to penetrate the Russian defenses, which have proven strong since the launch of the counter-offensive in early June.

Another question is whether the West, and especially Washington, can continue to help Ukraine for much longer.

Then the burden will fall on the shoulders of the eager but exhausted Ukrainian fighters.

Soldier Volodymyr believes that the absence of Western weapons will not change anything.

He turned thirty-three, celebrating his birthday on the front line.

On the first anniversary of his joining the army before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was fighting a less intense war against pro-Russian separatists, while Moscow confirmed at the time that it had no soldiers in Ukraine.

Volodymyr quietly recalls how the Ukrainian army repelled the Russian attack on Kiev in the first weeks of the invasion that began in February 2022.

Western aid was almost non-existent and many Ukrainians struggled with what was at hand.

“If they stop supplying us with weapons and missiles, I think we will continue to fight until the end,” Volodymyr said.

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