During a trip to Ukraine, I visited a military unit called “Dnepr 1” in the Dnipro (formerly Dnepropetrovsk). A volunteer battalion, who have to fight with the rebels in the East of Ukraine. Officially, he reports to the police and takes part in anti-terrorist operations — the so-called war on Donbass.
I spent the whole day in the battalion, and talked with its leaders. One half of the battalion is at the front, and the second rests. Today is Sunday, and therefore in the barracks no one. With the exception of those who kindly took the time to tell me about the situation in Ukraine and especially here in the river.
Here is their story:
When in the spring of 2014 the war began, the Dnieper could fall under the blows of the separatists (which are called bandits or terrorists), if not decisively addressed the population. Was formed voluntary troops to fight and to help those who are fighting.
Men left their jobs and went to war. But the government could give them only a rifle and a small salary. Helmets, body armor, food, and shoes had to put other. Women began to collect and create the necessary sourcing.
“Why the Ukrainian army was not ready to fight?” — I asked.
Because the Pro-Russian government since 2012 and in subsequent years has disarmed the Ukraine and poorly supplied army. Pro-Russian representatives have held important posts in the army. They were not interested in war with Russia. The army went into decline. When the volunteer battalions were surrounded under Ilovaisk in August 2014, the regular troops did not come to the aid of volunteers. The volunteers were broken. Because they believed that their freely released from the Russian environment. But when they came out of the environment, they were shot. The Russian did not keep his word.
Looking at the graves and monuments, I met a widow of a soldier and father who lost a son. I showed a video with other loved ones. This causes strong emotion, many crying. The people with whom I sit have lost or fear losing loved ones.
The money raised in the barracks arranged in the Church. This is the Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate. Those who belong to the Moscow Patriarchate, not to be trusted, told me. They do not bury the dead on the other side. They leave their dogs. So barrack the priest himself brought the dead soldiers from the front. They were to be sent home to be buried properly. The Moscow Patriarchate is a traitor, he says.
“Who are you fighting for?” — I ask.
With regular Russian troops, was the answer. 80% — Russian and 20% of Donbass. It’s a lie when talking about the civil war in Ukraine. There is, of course, some of Donbass, which believe the active Russian propaganda, oppose independence and are now fighting for the Russian. But they are few. Ukraine is fighting Russia.
I showed the video card and that was supposed to prove that regular Russian troops. If there was not Russia, the rebellion would be crushed within two weeks, they say. But Russia does not want Ukraine turned to Europe.
I listen to the arguments why Russia cannot sign a contract because she can’t be trusted. If she has something to give, she would immediately demand more. If we don’t stop Russia near the Ukrainian border, Russia will continue the conquest of Europe, told me. Therefore, they say, this war is important for other European countries. Ukraine is an Outpost of freedom against the bondage of Russia.
Unfortunately, this understanding is not large enough, the Ukraine was able to persuade someone to give her anti-tank weapons. It is very necessary to Ukraine. They get help from American instructors, but not a weapon.
How can I solve this conflict?
A woman about 40 years old with a nice face and big brown eyes brings at Breakfast the results of discussions with me. We should have a free Ukraine. We need to take back our territory. But we should also do away with numerous representatives of the fifth column who are sitting everywhere. They sit in Parliament — for example, the Opposition party — and they occupy important positions in administration and justice. They are Pro-Russian and voted for the former ruling party “Party of regions”. They should be tried for subversive activities.
It can help greatly.
I did not answer, as they imagine the situation in the long term. The impression that the war currently takes so much energy that it is impossible to see into the future. And if it is absolutely impossible to rely on Russians and Russia, it is hard to see a future decision. But sometimes some of them describe the dream of life in accordance with European ideas. That’s life, when there is a fight against corruption, and when other countries are treated as equal partners.
Russia and earlier the Soviet Union treated Ukraine as defective country. Culture, language and economic power of Ukraine was systematically destroyed. Now Ukraine can break out of this, establishing closer ties with Europe. About it I there was a speech on independence and opposed to Russia. So we need, Dnepr 1, they said to me before I got on the train going to Kiev.