Several of those living near the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk fear a military escalation from Vladimir Putin, eight years after Russia first set its sights on Ukraine. The Russian President has made his hostility towards the existence of Ukraine clear in a televised speech on Monday, claiming “modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia”.
Valentina Buchok lives near the front line of the current conflict and knows first hand how dangerous the situation can be.
The 56-year-old was kidnapped in 2017 by separatists who accused her of being a Ukrainian spy and tortured her.
She was held in Donetsk’s secret security prison for a year and a half.
She told The Telegraph: “We’re not going to give up.
“I can see clearly where things are going now: unless Putin get’s NATO’s guarantees, which no one is going to give to him, it can only mean one thing: war.
“It’s scary to say these words and it’s scary to think we’re going to go through this all over again.”
More than 14,000 people have been killed in the area in clashes between Ukraine’s army and Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
Referendums proclaiming their independence have not been recognised internationally, however Moscow claims the Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine needs to be protected from Ukrainian nationalism.