Rebels in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in the east of Ukraine are preparing to repel government forces.
Barricades are being built close to one of the combat zones. Beyond the barriers lies a bullet-riddled truck. Further away, the avenue leading to the airport is empty.
The road has not yet been evacuated of its inhabitants.
“I am here on my land and we will protect it,” said one local woman. “We are in our city. We are being occupied. There’s no reason to be afraid.”
Police forces are reportedly struggling to control the situation in a city where many have lost faith in their capabilities.
Euronews spoke to Yuri Sednev, the Chief of Police in Donetsk.
“Unfortunately, we don’t receive enough information about the fighting on either side of the conflict,” he said. “So we’re relying on civilians for our information.”
The rebels have been able to build their barricades in spite of the police presence in the area.
They are expecting forces loyal to Kyiv to strike from the position they’re guarding.
The police insist they wish to remain neutral.
Our correspondent Sergio Cantone is on the ground in Donetsk:
“The railway bridge is over there, just behind me,” he said. “It separates the centre of Donetsk from the combat zone. When we went beyond the bridge, we heard some sporadic explosions.”
In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has softened his stance against Ukraine’s pro-European leadership.
The likelihood of him sending Russian forces into the east of Ukraine has receded.
In addition, Putin has promised to pull back troops from the Russia-Ukraine border.