THE SUN joined a Ukrainian tank crew in a terrifying shoot and scoot operation.
They gave us exclusive access to a lightning strike in Kherson province.
Their T-64BV tank roared from a secret hideout, hidden from Russian drones, and charged into no man’s land to fire.
But seconds after this picture was taken, high-explosive howitzer shells slammed into farmland around us.
One shell shredded trees 250 meters away, while a second slammed into a field, throwing dirt hundreds of meters into the air.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has promised to build a multimillion-strong force to repel Putin’s forces.
Western weapons, including US and British rocket launchers, have already made a “big difference,” he said.
But Ukraine desperately needs more weapons, and fast. “Every day we wait for howitzers, we can lose a hundred soldiers,” said Mr. Reznikov.
In the absence of heavy guns capable of firing up to 40 miles, Ukrainian forces must use tanks as mobile artillery – but their range is only three miles.
The commander of the tank, Sasha, had orders to blitz positions of an elite Russian VDV airborne division.
We followed in a softskin pickup with a group of British and American volunteers.
The 43-ton tank stopped on a track between two fields and we jumped into a ditch to hide.
The turret rocked and slewed.
We heard the clatter of the loading machine.
Then a ball of flame erupted from the 18-foot barrel.
A Ukrainian lookout reported back.
Sasha corrected his aim and fired twice again.
A split second later we heard the call “Arrive”.
A Russian 152mm gun – which could have been up to 18 miles away – was getting closer with each shot.
Russian troops have so much ammunition that they can blow up targets indiscriminately.
Ukraine must ensure that every shot counts.
I’ve joined the shoot and scoot operation of the Ukrainian tank crew as they desperately fight to repel the Mad Vlad invaders