When war broke out seven years ago in eastern Ukraine, Hanna Teryanik volunteered with her husband and friends to transport wounded government troops to and from hospital.

The soldiers fighting against Russian-backed separatists were a motley, ill-equipped bunch, recalled Teryanik, 45, who now works as a research scientist at a war museum in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

These days, she believes, they are a much tougher and more professional outfit.