‘I’ve been back and forth to Ukraine over the last six years, now I feel absolutely helpless’

Video report by ITV Wales reporter Alexandra Hartley

Freelance journalist Jess Daly gives her account after spending years visiting Ukraine

I've been back and forth to Ukraine for the last six years documenting the lives of those living on the frontline in the Donbass region. 

Ukraine is where I began my journey into journalism. I wanted to raise money for children in orphanages but realised people didn't quite understand the situation in Ukraine and we were struggling with fundraising. 

After seeing children living in conflict, living in danger every day, I was compelled to try and give a voice to the voiceless by documenting their life. 

The last eight years of war has rumbled on in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, seeing the extreme escalation that we have witnessed over the last five days has been absolutely shocking and truly heart breaking, I've felt absolutely helpless. 

Jess was working with and reporting on the work of a volunteer medical battalion called 'Hospitallers' Credit: Jess Daly

I've mainly been embedded with a volunteer medical battalion called 'Hospitallers', they have taken me to various locations across the frontline and most recently, based near Mariupol. 

They are non-armed volunteers and their moto is 'for the sake of every life’.

They provide medical assistance to the Ukrainian military and civilians, while they have also helped Russian forces too. 

Due to the escalation, some of them are now having to carry weapons. When the full scale escalation began six days ago, the exact location I was staying in in January was hit by tanks and SAU-100s. This was absolutely shocking but also expected due to its location.

The most harrowing thing for me has been seeing major cities like Kyiv, Dnipro and Kharkiv being attacked like this. 

The Donbas region of eastern Ukraine has been in a state of conflict for much of the last eight years Credit: Jess Daly

I could never have imagined this invasion would play out the way it has. However, Ukrainian forces have been very impressive the last few days and have maintained to control all cities targeted by Russian forces.

On Monday, I spoke with Vova, an old friend based in Kyiv. He would have never dreamed of taking up arms only a few weeks ago and had never been to the frontline himself. Now, he is ready to fight. 

To see a friend, in a small basement, talking about the uncertain future of his family is absolutely devastating. Some friends are fleeing the country with families, others are standing their ground.

The civilians of Ukraine have united in such an impressive away, it's been incredible to see them working together in the way that they have. 

Who knows what the future holds for Ukraine, but as the Russian forces are running out of supplies from fuel to food, and the Ukrainians unification continues to grow, Russia will struggle to take control of Ukraine in the way they'd expected.