Ukraine-Russia war live: Kharkiv high-rise hit by Russian airstrike

During two years as a military policeman in Ukraine’s war, Vlad Yefarov has long wondered whether there might one day be a bullet with his name on it.

On Sunday, while trying to save a pensioner trapped from the north-east border town of Vovchansk, he faced not one such bullet, but half a dozen.

“We were driving past the old shoemaker’s factory when a Russian sniper’s bullet hit the windscreen right in front of me,” he said, pointing to the cracked glass above the steering wheel on his Toyota pick-up.

“We tried to turn around, but as we did so, a Russian machine-gunner opened fire on us, and the sniper put another round in my driver’s side window.”

That Mr Yefarov, 27, is still around to tell the tale is thanks to the fact that last year, foreign donors gave his police force a fleet of armoured Toyotas to replace their standard-issue ones. The two sniper rounds that would otherwise have taken his head off were stopped by bullet-proof glass, while the four machine-gun rounds that punctured the Toyota either side were halted by the steel plating under the bodywork.

“If we’d been in a soft-skinned car, I’d have been killed straight away,” he said, as he stood by the bullet-ridden vehicle in the town of Buhaivka, 10 miles south. “Plus my three comrades who were in the back would be dead too.”

Read more of Colin Freeman’s dispatch from Buhaivka here

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