DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The gains that Ukraine is making against Russian forces is giving its citizens new hope.

In part of CBS 17’s ongoing work with Durham documentary filmmaker Steve Boston, we’re hearing from those on the ground who are experiencing the war firsthand.

“We showed very good progress. We proved to the world we are not only able to resist but we are able for [sic] counter-offensive and offensive operations,” said Volodymyr Omelyan, former Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine and current captain in the Ukrainian armed forces.

Omelyan told Boston via video conference that his country’s recent success against Russia is largely due to the help provided by its allies, including the United States.

Omelyan described the Russian military retreating in a hurry and leaving behind quite a bit—in some cases it was equipment, some in good and usable, and in other cases it was their own soldiers left behind.

“We seen too many blood [sic], too much blood and we lost too many people civilians and military in the battlefield so there is no chance to make any kind of peace deal with Russians,” he said.

As for Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear force, Omelyan believes Putin is serious, but also doubts any of those around him would see it through.

“But I don’t believe there will be any kind of partner of Putin or any kind of soldier from his Army who will obey this command and will fulfill it. I believe it’s more bluffing, but risks are high” said Omelyan.

Those are risks that Omelyan believes will continue as long as Putin remains in charge and Russia is an autocracy.  

“Whatever happens when this war is over, and Russia remains the same in the existing borders it means that Russia will come once again with weapons,” he said. “And I don’t think that United States taxpayers or any other Western taxpayers are ready to pay once again double price.”