A WARZONE security specialist has spoken out about life in Ukraine one year on from Russia’s invasion.  

Steven Holland, from Hartford, is currently in Ukraine protecting a team of CNN journalists in the east of the country, where the fighting is at its worst. 

He has also spent time visiting children's hospitals and orphanages, where has been providing essential supplies collected from donors in the UK.

Though life in Kiev has pretty much returned to a normal pattern, says Steve, for those living closer to the front line, life is still ‘absolute carnage’.

He said: “A year ago in Kiev, you knew you were in a warzone. There were tank traps and soldiers everywhere. Everything was very quiet, and when you heard an air siren, you responded. That’s how it was.

“Now, if you look out of your hotel room window in Kiev you could believe you were on a city break.

Northwich Guardian: Steven visitng Ukrainian children he met while protecting an ITV film creSteven visitng Ukrainian children he met while protecting an ITV film cre (Image: Steven Holland)

“The way people have just got on with their lives, you wouldn’t think there was a war at all.

“But the situation can change very rapidly. The other day, we heard that 72 long range ballistic miles were on their way from the Black Sea and they intended to aim for Kiev. You’ve then got about an hour before they arrive.

“The ability to track when a missile has been launched on social media platforms can give you a warning that something is coming. It's better than most intelligence platforms.

“The Ukrainian people are the most resilient people I have met. They’re very friendly, and they welcome a western presence."

But Kiev isn't the whole story. The further towards the front line you travel, says Steve, the the more dangerous life becomes. 

He said: “If you jump in a car and travel six or seven hours to the east, say to Kharkiv, it’s like you’re reliving World War II.

"It’s very evident that you’re in a modern-day conventional war. It’s chaos.

“The humanitarian situation down there is absolute carnage. There are civilians stuck in settlements and can’t get out.

“We’ve visited children’s hospitals where the kids are too ill to move, but the Russian artillery are actually targeting them. It’s to harass, bully, intimidate, and destroy morale.

“Putin’s legacy means more to him that the lives of his own countrymen being sent to the meat grinder. Zelenskyy, on the other hand, is fighting for his life, along with the rest if his countrymen and women.

“I would say 80 per cent of the Russians don’t want to be there. They just want to go home, and it’s very sad.

“This is why the Ukrainians are being so successful. It’s their will to fight.”