Short of resources, Ukrainians continue to fight rebels

KIEV, Ukraine -- European leaders and Secretary of State John Kerry are in Ukraine to stop a revolution. The White House is considering sending weapons to Ukraine to fight the rebels in the eastern part of the country, rebels who are backed by Russia.

To the Ukrainian army, this road is everything right now, it's their only supply line to the epicenter of heavy fighting, where they're under blistering attack from Russian-backed separatists.

About 10 miles north of the the front line, there's little civilian traffic, most people have left and there are almost constant exchanges of heavy artillery fire.

The Ukranians are dug in on both sides of the road, concealed behind trees and wrecked buildings. CBS News was invited onto their bases on condition their location was not revealed.

Lieutenant Sergei was a lawyer in Kiev until he joined up just two months ago.

"When I saw on TV the war, children," he said. "I can't stay at home. I came here." He said he came back as an officer.

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Ukrainian soldiers rush into battle against Russian-backed separatists. CBS News

Today with the artillery booming close by, his unit received maps from ARMY SOS, a group that delivers donations to the military.

The soldiers said they are short of some things, but they are not desperate for high-tech American weapons and do not need any military help from the United States yet.

What they do need is a completely revamped army.

Deep-rooted corruption and neglect meant these men got just a few weeks of basic training before they were flung into an intense rocket war. They say behind the lines the army is failing.

Anton, a volunteer, says the men in his unit lack everything from clear orders to the right salary. His message is not for the U.S., but for Ukraine's president: "Stop lying to us."

The bottom line, though is that these men are facing Russia's military might with very little chance they could actually win this war.

However tonight pehaps a glimmer of hope. The German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have, in an exceptional move, announced they are going to Moscow Friday to try and reach a political settlement with President Vladimir Putin.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."