By Petr & Mazepa
06.21.2014 Petr & Mazepa
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
For the previous Iron Sectorman post #1 click here.
Diary of a fighter who at this moment already finds himself in the thick of things in the East. Written and literarily-processed by editors from words, rare SMS and other forms of communication by the author. Supplemented constantly.
Saturday, June 21
I’m writing late today. Sorry, woke up late, slept all day. Because the whole night I was having adventures. Here is what happened.
In the middle of the night we received a signal from intelligence that 50 km away a truck with separatists was heading in our direction. The whole base quickly (this time everything went much better than last time) got together, armed, and took combat positions. We began waiting for the separatists’ attack. I was in a machine gun unit, with belts for the machine gun and loads of tracers for myself to light the targets.
Because we gathered quickly, and 50 kilometers is quite a huge distance by wartime measures–one that cannot be crossed in less than an hour to an hour and a half especially in the middle of the night–the command allowed us to sleep in shifts. By the way, further information was received, and it turned out that now it was not just one truck but two, plus an APC.
Trying to sleep, knowing that somewhere there is an enemy APC coming towards you, isn’t easy work. You can hear every clang, every rustling from your multiple neighbors. And I get the impression that they all made it their mission to bang about just to make my sleep more fun. And every sound you take not as, “When will you calm down, you bastards,” but “I think it’s started, a separatist is crawling towards my position.”
A particular furor was caused by a sudden cat who managed, at first, to come completely silently up to my position, flash it with his eyes, and then to go onto the next one, look out into the darkness disapprovingly from there, meow loudly, and then quickly run off. Thus, he indicated to all of us the vector of observation for the next couple of hours. Everyone looked only where the cat meowed from. After all, he does not make mistakes, right?
And of course, even more joy was added by constant shooting and explosions somewhere far off.
So basically, we left our positions only closer to morning, when it got light out. The command found out about the trucks, and it turned out that the truck spotted by our surveillance was actually ours. Generally, a common occurrence during war, of course. All the same, we got some practice.
Again I will repeat, everyone, of course, was scared, and you could see it in their eyes. But this time everyone acted noticeably faster and more coordinated than last time, and there was much less fear. We are getting used to this as we go along, a couple more weeks, and we will only need to worry about not snoring while in our defensive positions.
Today at a checkpoint we caught another “Colorado.” The man was simple and honest–had a Colorado ribbon on his car, a passport from the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic], and more ribbons with him. Of course, we arrested him and handed him over to the MOI. What a genius.
Today, surprisingly, we ate for supper what we had leftover from breakfast. Because almost nobody came to breakfast, everyone was sleeping, then they gave us lunch, also not many people came then, and for supper we had almost all the leftover breakfast and lunch. So, as usual, I ate two portions. What is good about this war is that we don’t go hungry, everyone eats as much as they want.
One of the cars which had been driving to us in the morning got stuck in some puddle along the way and nearly sank. They joked that it would have been pretty silly–they went to war and nearly died in a traffic accident. On the other hand, they say that the MOI writes something similar for those who really do die in the war.
They brought us uniforms. Finally, we are all in identical camo. They promised to bring us more weapons and ammunition. It seems that the supply is getting taken care of. We are growing up before your very eyes, look, in about a half a year we’ll have completely become an army.
Tomorrow there will be a class on explosives; it will be led by a guy from our squad for Right Sector and others interested. They do not have their own instructor, so they took ours.
Tonight promises to be quiet, at least for now. For yet another day now, it is overcast and rainy, and that is not good. In this weather all movement becomes quieter. Besides that, nights are darker, and visibility is worse.
Checkpoints are manned and duty goes on. Today we finished watching the Hobbit, we did not have time yesterday because of the alarm. We have an old, half-broken laptop. We drank some coffee because the tea ran out. Ate some sweets and biscuits from the army rations. We also cleaned our weapons and re-worked our magazines so the springs do not weaken.
Into the toilet, mess hall, etc., I take my assault rifle and sometimes extra ammo. All who carry a weapon try to keep it with them if it is possible not to hand it in to the munitions store. Today it is possible to sleep naked, today we are not on post. But the assault rifle is nevertheless close by. Clothes, armor and so on are also close by, but my weapon is under my pillow, so I can always feel it.
Sunday, June 22
9:19 there was a rumour that in Kirovsk DPR fighters are going around to churches and taking requisitions to place the church under the Moscow Patriarchy. The information came through a colleague by phone. It looks like nobody from the chain of information transmission is aware of church realities, and so no one can say what exactly they are doing with the churches. However, among everyone without exception this news causes resentment and sharp protest.
10:00 The first casualties at the base have started, for now only two wounded.
After breakfast, I am walking from the canteen past the neighbouring barracks. SUDDENLY! Noise from the second floor window. Swearing! Then some commotion and a blast! The window shatters! Glass flies out onto the street! I jump behind a corner.
Smoke billows from the window, inside there are shouts and stomping. I immediately understood–accidental grenade detonation. By the sound of it, an RGD. I run to the scene. The whole second floor is in acrid smoke. It is hard to breathe, the throat burns, you want to cough, even to choke on the cough. We dragged the wounded out, removed his flak jacket. Shrapnel injuries, damage to the fingers and bones of the right hand, rupture of soft tissues in the groin area on the right and of the thigh in front and inside. Possible damage to the pelvis. A slight shock, likely a concussion. The victim is conscious. Medics bandaged him up and prepared him to be taken away. The injuries are severe but not lethal. My diagnosis, based on a superficial inspection, will ask the medics later, maybe I am wrong.
Afterwards we found another wounded person. This one had a concussion, maybe some scratches, lost consciousness. Both were sent to the hospital.
The grenade detonated in the pocket of his pants. Why it was there, and why it exploded, we can only guess. The injured could not properly explain anything. I can assume that the ring got caught on something, the pins straightened inside his pocket, the ring came out, the fuse engaged. The fighter tried to pull the grenade from his pocket, but could not do it in time. The rest is clear.
He seemed like an experienced man, but ignored elementary safety precautions, and ran into a logical accident. I hope this will be the first and last time this happens.
13:48 Some checkpoint has been attacked, fighting ensues. We are being moved in as reinforcements.
15:14 We are waiting at a checkpoint. They do not let us further saying that this is another quadrant and there is no information from it. Handing out ammunition.
17:54 Returned to base. As usual, unverified data, no one properly knows anything, we have to figure everything out on the spot. In short, no one attacked any checkpoint, everything is normal. It’s just that one of the units ended up weakened, and they decided to send us out to reinforce it. But! The unit was based deep inside Donetsk Oblast, so even getting there was problematic. To go to the unit without warning is to risk coming under friendly fire, which is usually more accurate than enemy fire. This kind of redeployment needs to be coordinated with the high command, but they do not lower themselves to the point of talking with the common people, so you have to jump through all the hoops so to speak. As a result, while this and that was happening, we just reinforced the checkpoint that was closest to the unit. They further equipped us with more ammo and shots for RPGs, promised to give us more machine gun belts, but they stood us up, they were not there and we did not have time to wait.
We got stood up on all counts at once. The command at the checkpoint did not have maps for the given quadrant with surveillance data, this is an issue for the command of the neighbouring quadrant, and that unit does not belong to his zone of control, so like fuck was he going to give us any maps. Technically he is in many ways correct, why the heck should he dish out information to us strangers, if it does not concern him and he received no orders from above.
Communication with the unit is only via an emergency channel through someone else. It is problematic to forewarn about us, and even then there are no guarantees that we good guys will be coming and not the cunning enemy. Radio-war and disinformation is still a thing. There is a real risk to let the wrong people into the base, and then it’s over. So here too the soldiers are right.
Communication with the high command is harder to organise than with Our Lord Jesus Christ. One-way communication with God exists in any church in the presence of a priest, and emergency communication via prayer. Or something like that… with the high command it is more complicated. Anyway, somehow we got through to someone and got a response that we are actually under a ceasefire and sending out armed fighters is not a great idea. And if there were shooting, the high command and theirs would end up being violators of a direct order of our beloved President. So, no one needs any of that shit.
In the end they told us, “Guys, relax. No one has attacked so far, they are only shelling us from a DshK [heavy machine gun], and when they attack, we will come up with something clever, and then you can come. But for now, go on home. Besides it will be supper time soon, we wouldn’t want you to get hungry. By the way, could you please return the ammo, since the battle is cancelled.”
What can I say? We really did come back in time for supper, only technically we “forgot” to return the ammo. The military guys did not even get upset, they all understand everything; it’s just the high command that no one understands, and no one understands their orders either.
Generally it is not good to curse the military, they are good guys. They are up to their necks in objectives and have even bigger problems. They do what they can. If only the orders were sensible, in general everything would be great, but that’s how it is–as per the usual.
On the way back we were informed that some Gazel [minivan] shot up our someone somewhere, and they were asking for help. And we just so happened to stumble upon a Gazel which was suspiciously parked in the bushes by the road. We [surrounded] it with three vehicles and thus… checked it out. The driver was somewhat taken aback, and the air smelled distinctly of fear. Everything ended well, the van was empty, the driver was a great guy, and the smell of fear apparently was coming from a meat factory, it always smells like that there.
23:16 The evening line-up ended with a run, which then turned into a gruelling march. The battalion commander made us all run and march to our checkpoint. It took us about three hours to get there. Most dropped out after the first 3–5 kilometres. The other 30 successfully completed the distance. On the way, we practiced marching in a moving column and action in case of contact with the enemy.
Sang songs and chants. What was surprising was that we all sang Ukrainian folk songs together. Furthermore, almost everyone knew the lyrics, and as soon as someone started singing, others joined in. We did not, however, finish singing a song until the end, but simply started singing the next one, and everyone would switch over together.
We drove back by transport. The commander, although a great guy for running with us, made a big mistake, even two. He started the march after supper and without any warning. We were getting ready to go to our checkpoint and dressed almost entirely in battle gear. Thankfully, not all of us put on flak jackets or took weapons with ammunition. Our coming onto the checkpoint was the second mistake. You can’t make people run before their shift. The end was a bit predictable, we went to sleep, and the checkpoint was manned by those who dropped out during the run.
23:57 In the comments people write that before going to war, it is important to understand the political situation. Here is what I can say about this. Half the country sits at home and analyzes the situation in the country, during this time people die, territories get captured, and chaos happens in the country. The fighting is done by a few fractions of a percent of the population, and these people do not sit and analyze, they act.
If suddenly the lights go out in your house and the electrical appliances shut off, you can of course sit down and start analyzing. You can go on the Internet and discuss similar situations on forums, post a cool picture, and do loads of similar useful things. But I prefer to go to the fusebox and check the fuses, maybe talk to the neighbours, and call out maintenance. Understanding the causes and looking for whom to blame I can do when the light is back on.
I can come up with loads of other analogies and all of them will be deceptive. What’s important is this: you need to act, and not simply to analyze and write posts from the comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the information war and support are very important in our time. But! I have not heard of problems that were solved only with the help of the Internet and without action taken in the “real world.” Let everyone do what they can. Some will analyze and write on the Internet, and others will act, so that the first group has something to analyze and write about.
Thousands analyze and write while only very few act. And here I am talking about the Internet and not about the “real world.”
Monday, June 23
10:15 Our new commander turned out to be weak in military affairs and is unaware of the rules. After an almost three-hour march, a troubling day departure, and before that, two restless and sleepless nights, he says in a calm voice that we must take over at the checkpoint. With an almost five-hour delay. Furthermore, in all this time he did not bother to find a replacement from the fighters who are free, even though I personally reminded him twice about our upcoming shift at the checkpoint. Once half an hour before the change of shift, and a second time an hour afterwards. The first time he simply ignored my words, and the second time he said that the guys will wait and they will be changed.
Our eight hour shift came to an end and we are still at the base. By the way, before the end of the shift they told us where booby traps were set up around the checkpoint and where not to go. It is good that we knew their approximate locations beforehand and never went to those places at all.
They also said that the other day, based on a glare, they suspected a sniper, and surveillance reported traces of a sniper in that location. Several well-prepared positions for observation. Booby traps were set up in that position and in other suitable places. The booby traps are of the signal type, and not real ones, like some thought here and started getting angry. We are not some kind of beasts, we get everything. People walk all around here, kids, cats, and other rabbits and foxes.
The night was scary as usual. 🙂 Fear and paranoia have become my usual companions, and that is fine. I generally consider heavy paranoia together with over-protection to be the highest degree of caution. Even my colleagues get slightly annoyed by this, but I’d rather look like an unharmed paranoiac than a wounded normal person.
Walking in the shadows by night and through bushes and gullies in the daylight–these are skills I have been getting down tight. If you know what I mean.
By the way I have the view that caution is born of fear, but fear is strongly dependent on the imagination. A person with an imagination can offer many situations where there is a risk to their health, so they started to get scared and think of how to avoid them. Meanwhile someone without an imagination cannot imagine such situations or cannot imagine the consequences, and thus is not afraid. By the way, by fear I mean specifically the fear to get hurt, and not terror or cowardice. Fear saves you and helps you to avoid unpleasantness if kept under control.
Besides imagination, knowledge is also important. Moreover, knowledge for some people replaces imagination, and they start being afraid and cautious simply because they know where they can get it in the neck.
11:11 Forcing a human to be afraid is quite simple, you need to either say what might happen and why, or allow them to imagine what might happen. It is another matter that many ignore danger, thinking this is bravery. And they suffer for that.
At the checkpoint, people say that in the war you can increasingly see girls with guns. They say they simply have nowhere to go and have no other choice than the war. I do not know the exact motives, but such girls definitely exist on our side, my colleagues tell me about them. But there are very few of them, 1–3%, according to the talk.
19:58 Our guys returned from surveillance, now they are washing up and pulling the twigs out. 🙂
They came back without losses, didn’t even lose much of anything, well done guys! They learned everything they were supposed to and did not come into contact with the enemy. Told loads of funny stories. I was especially pleased with the story of the very beginning of the operation. They started out on their knees with hands on their heads under the gunpoint of Ukrainian soldiers. They were stopped just in case at a checkpoint. The soldiers were very surprised how our guys were very “well-packed” in terms of equipment. Although in fact they were wearing what we could gather from the whole squad. We gave them all the best we could find.
One of them is a paranoiac just like me. On these grounds, he and his partner even swore a little at each other. The swearing of course happened back at the base, not on the mission. This ended in a series of sketches regarding who rustled with what while they were sitting in the forest at night, and who confused whom for whom while nearly shitting their pants.
20:22 After recent events surrounding our departures, surveillance, and other activities, many here are starting to wonder about the pointlessness of staying at this base together with Right Sector. Thoughts are being voiced regarding looking for useful activities beyond the supply system of Right Sector and generally outside the formed battalions. The situation is exacerbated by the order for a unilateral ceasefire. Many are planning to pack their things and go home until the situation gets better. In parallel, the search goes on for more promising places for useful activity. Their point of view is straightforward, the war is not over for them, it’s just that fighting with these methods is pointless, it only wastes time and resources with a risk of dying stupidly and for no reason.
The guys have weapons, ammo, and most importantly–they’ve got contacts which they can now use to form their own base or battalion.
So far, there is a consideration of the options and a discussion of the situation. It was unanimously accepted that fighting together with or even alongside Right Sector was pointless and even dangerous. During the existence of this base, not one shot has been fired either at the enemy or by the enemy. But we already have several wounded from accidents due to the grenade and firearms. A couple self-shootings happened before our arrival either by accident or because of the stupidity of those handling the firearms.
It is worth specifically mentioning the incompetence of the command and rank-and-file of Right Sector as well as the near complete lack of discipline and common sense. It is all sad. In general, I agree with their point of view, I will not stay at this base without these guys, no prospects.
22:52 The chaplain gave a sermon on the subject that in Ukraine there are two normal ideas, and the others are all Satan’s work, heresy, and general evil. There is only Christianity and nationalism. And they flow smoothly from one into the other and must work only together. You have to love all Ukrainian ancestors without exception. If you properly love and respect all racially true Ukrainians, then you will receive happiness for all your descendants to the 1000th generation, otherwise a curse will fall on all up to and including the 3rd generation. The bottom line is that the correct Christian must also be a correct nationalist, and a correct nationalist must be a correct Christian. One without the other is just a waste of time, a non-nationalist cannot be a Christian and vice versa (Editor’s note–Jesus is raising his eyebrow in surprise).
This is Right Sector’s own chaplain. He even has a chapel in the barracks, or something like that.
So there is a full ideological training of the fighters. A sort of crusade for Ukraine against satanic ideologies, he even said it like that. There are followers and quite a few of them, but without fanaticism and purely on a voluntary basis. I guess this makes some sense. I personally am indifferent, but it must be taken into account when interacting with the fighters. So in short, service goes on, and the services go on. Regularly, by the chaplain himself.
Source: Petr & Mazepa