By Khrystyna Bondarenko, Executive Producer, Channel 5 TV
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
All photographs by Yan Dobronosov
“Bushuy” [call name, meaning Rage] and his dog “Bear.” Today at 5:40 am, Bushuy woke us up and said that Grads were being turned in our direction. He ordered us to remain in a concrete room with no windows and, finally, says this: “I will not leave you, I will get you out of anywhere.” And it’s true. The other day he brought the guys out of from under the Grads at their previous home base. You look at him and just believe it. He can, absolutely.
Actually … last night the alarm went off three or four times. One time, for no good reason. Grad missiles were falling very close. The bastards unloaded the entire launcher – 40 cassette shells. They dropped a kilometer away from us.
This is what I tell everyone now, that this distance is all bullshit – it doesn’t even count as shelling. It’s as if it exploded in a different city. It’s close, when it falls up to 50 meters away from you, as it was with the utmost of our checkpoints. There were a couple of 300s [wounded servicemen], but even there, the guys are used to it.
And then we sat like mice without showing our faces on the street [without moving] – while a separsky [slang for separatists] drone was flying. It usually flies before and after the shelling – to learn the results.
Then it was terrifying. And now I know how my body reacts to fear. I begin to get terribly nauseous. “It’s good, – said one of the guys – when you go into battle, you can’t eat or drink anything, then if you are shot in the stomach, then your chances of survival are greater [with an empty stomach] than with a full belly.” Aha, I think, it sounds comforting. I start feeling even more nauseous.
But with them … somehow I was calm. They are all so even-tempered. Real men. Their eyes, of course, are far from good. And what did you think? Every one of them has happened to lose a friend.
There are jokes, of course. But army jokes, cruel [ones]. It’s seldom that someone tries to apologize for the swearing in the speech, but after your “shit, Grads again, what-iffing,” the line gets erased. If you’ve come to the war, then you are no longer a woman. You’re just like them. And one needs to tuck away any weakness now and for the long haul. Snivelling is also impossible. You can smile, powder your nose, put on lipstick – you have to be beautiful even here. No, even more so here – at the front lines. Soldiers are men too, after all. )
There will be more in the second episode of “Ukraine: Surviving the Fire.” Soon, very soon on [Ukraine] Channel 5.
All photographs by Yan Dobronosov (click on images to enlarge)
Source: Khrystyna Bondarenko FB