August 17, 2015
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
Roman Chernyshev for ИА ЛIГАБiзнесIнформ
“On the blood of their soldiers”
….Then in the office I’m telling the deputy: “Who are you collecting? To fight alongside them is impossible. How can they be given weapons?” They replied to me:
“They’re patriots, they proved themselves on Maidan.”
Six weeks later, they were given guns. I’m supposed to teach people how to fight, but in my hands I have only five weight-and-size mockups, which I can count on my fingers.
Q.: In the end, who and how many did you manage to prepare?
Sergey: After three months, I managed to prepare 40 normal fighters who were ready for deployment to the ATO. This given that they received weapons six weeks before the planned deployment. Yet there still had to be another of the same amount in order to complete the training after two weeks. For us, the norm for shooting a machine gun was 1500 shots for each fighter and up to 600 for a pistol. Plus classes on tactics, physical training, special medical training, and a bit of special engineering, but the minimum of models were lacking. But before the official dispatch from the Interior Ministry comes the distribution list – it’s necessary to send 80 men.
Q.: Did deputies help?
Sergey: That’s a different story. They helped and did a lot of PR about the fact that deputies were supplying the army with ammunition. A deputy would come with journalists and present bulletproof vests in front of camera flashes and I would tell him: “ “What are you bringing? This is outright bullshit, even if the military was consulted about it. This is gear with ricochet – the plate will withstand, but a shot in the front of the chest will ricochet and hit the chin, and if shot in the back, then in the leg and ass.” The deputy would leave silently – to him it was unimportant what he brought, but important that his cameras caught it all.
They sent us to the ATO zone with pistols and assault rifles. In order to beat the state to send a few machine guns and grenades, the whole country had to be told on the Shuster TV show that they were sending us virtually unarmed. Only then did the Interior Ministry issue several PKK (light machine guns).
Q.: Where did they send you in the ATO zone?
Sergey: On September 1, 2014, we arrived at one of the pathetically liberated cities. For almost 90 people, we didn’t have any kind of serviceable transport besides an ambulance for wounded. And here comes the convoy the next morning: two empty buses and some kind of officer from headquarters and, without presenting any sort of documents, says: “You’re ordered to head to Avdeevka, load up.” And from there, just on the eve, one of the territorial defense battalions of the UAF withdrew. And the idea spread among soldiers after Ilovaysk: retreat and entrench along the Dnepr. Everyone awaited a mass-scale invasion by the Russians.
I said: “I have 85 people who have never been under fire, no kind of transport whatsoever, four light machine guns, no cover, and not a single RPG against tanks.” This officer spoke to me plainly: “I don’t give a f**k what you have and what you don’t have – there’s an order: get your things to Avdeevka. Your task is to patrol the streets and what will happen there with you doesn’t mean a f**k to me.” That’s verbatim. After this phrase, my attitude towards this war and to all the flashy patriotism seriously changed.
Of course, we didn’t go there, because I had a written order: stay put in the ATO and await refitting, and I don’t take vocal orders. I saved people and in response, as I later learned, the fighters repeating the party curators behind our backs said “Our commanders are scared to fight.”
When they were taken to the ATO from Kiev, I personally called the mothers of the fighters, especially those for whom it was their only son: “You don’t mind that your son is going off to war?” And when the mother says to you in tears: “I entrust the life of my son to God and you”….Oh well, forget about it.
So here it is. That officer from the HQ left, and our deputy-sponsors called me and said: ‘Khloptsi (slang for ‘Ukrainians’ – trans.), what’s with you guys? Stand for your native land!’ Only then did I understand that the sponsors needed ritual sacrifices on the eve of parliamentary elections.
Q.: What did you do while based in the ATO?
Sergey: We allegedly went around sweeping villages in the Donetsk region, but in fact “sweeping” only sounds beautiful, and really what it is is “putting checkmarks,” a simulation of intense activity. We came to some village (there our battalion came under the command of the National Guard of the Interior Ministry), and the command was this: sweep the village in 15 minutes, i.e. identify the separatist camp. How is it possible to sweep a village in 15 minutes? We walked around and left, and the report states that “forces of the ATO swept such and such populated areas and everything is peaceful there”. ….