By Asya Lem and Yan, Petr&Mazepa
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
The 28th Separate Guard Motorized Brigade:
Anticipating the noble indignation of the public and ardent patriots, which can be summarized as “Who are you and what were you doing there?!! 11,” we are answering all the silly questions at once:
– The money was received and spent by Alexander Zolotko with the moral support of fellow soldiers. And we simply covered the procurement process and the atmosphere in the unit;
– The travel expenses for the trip were paid for from the budget of Petr & Mazepa, you did not pay for this; the activities of Petr & Mazepa are, as usual, free to you.
When we got a placement with Petr & Mazepa and were given an editorial job to go to a military unit in the Mykolaiv steppes, we had very little understanding of what awaits us. Driving to a God-forsaken military unit in the middle of nowhere is a great beginning for a horror story. Life had not prepared us for this.
But the people are eager to know where their hard-earned money went, and there are plenty of extra trainees at P&M – so they sent us. We are attaching a video with the report where Alexander Zolotko will explain in detail what’s what, where and why. Listing everything by text is a waste of time.
We arrived in Mykolaiv: the city is a bit gloomy, but maybe it is because it is autumn (Ed. Note. – No, it is just Mykolaiv in general). After wandering around the neighbourhoods, we made for the central market where, rumour had it, you could buy anything. But the diesel generators, it turned out, were only sold by one quirky gentleman who assured us that his prices are the lowest in town. Soon Sasha Zolotko arrived with other servicemen, and we all smartly got down to shopping. We picked up various pieces of electrical equipment, and nonetheless bought the generator as well.
Then we went to Epicentre [Ukrainian DIY store] where the first surprise awaited us – it turned out they sold exactly the same generators, but for two thousand hryvnias cheaper than “the lowest price in town.” The soldiers did not appreciate such a joke. After a polite conversation the unfortunate generator returned to its former owner, and the money returned back “into the pot.” We did not return the other equipment because the price tags were almost identical.
When we returned to Epicentre, we got another surprise, this time a pleasant one: the manager offered a large discount on all purchased equipment. As a result on the generators alone we saved around 6000 hryvnias. And 6000 hryvnias, my friends, is 4 extra radios with spare batteries and headsets.
We take this opportunity to convey our gratitude to the administration of the Mykolaiv Epicentre for providing discounts to the soldiers. Glory to the heroes!
As a result we bought around a hundred thousand hryvnias’ worth of useful goods. The guys bought only the main essentials, saving wherever it was possible. But because they need everything – and I mean, literally EVERYTHING – we needed to spend a fair bit of time and effort. Until this trip of ours they did not even have tools for setting up their positions and for fixing equipment. Spades, screwdrivers, wrenches – the Motherland provided the soldiers with jack squat, they had to buy everything themselves. And the everyday needs were moved to the very bottom of the list. The presents were stuffed into a Gazelle [van] and sent to the camp.
* * *
The field camp has set up in the middle of the endless Mykolaiv steppes. The steppes, just to remind everyone, are windswept from all sides. No lights, no road. And a bitter cold. Fierce.
In the middle of all this pre-winter landscape stands the camp of the unit number 0006. If you photograph without the flash it looks like this:
And with the flash, like this:
We have little idea how the soldiers get there after military leave without transport and navigation systems. Maybe there is some kind of a superpower – to find a road in this bloody nowhere. Possessed by pigeons and by fighters of the infernal unit 0666.
As it turned out, this very unit did periodically come into the field of view of our brother-volunteer. Mostly they helped out with warm clothes and produce. This could be seen: as far as warm clothes, the unit is more or less equipped. But there was categorically nothing in the way of generating warmth, lighting and charging. So it was clear where the childlike joy came from at getting the generators.
Video: Anastasia Lem
Here are the receipts. It should be understood that with the rapid procurement in various places, the reporting may suffer. So reporting everything down to the last kopeika [penny] is a little impossible. This is exactly the reason why Alexander asked for the money to be wired not to him, but to another Privat card to Igor Shedrin: 4149 6059 1120 5524.
The soldiers met the two adventuring hobbits with open arms. After getting to know each other, we began examining the site. For example, the tents. You can live in them. Well, “live” as in, stitch something up, tape something down, stick something together with chewing gum, put up a stove – and live. For all of us, inhabitants of cozy almost centrally-heated, apartments, this situation may be shocking, but the guys bear it. And what is there to say, actually. During our visit it was +17 outside, so it was not too cold in the tents. But, gentlemen, in the winter it is far lower than +17. So the question remains open.
Indeed, it is nothing special. Imagine, outside the window there is a raging blizzard, at night, frost down to minus five, and you are in a warm cozy tent, with a warm and comfortable temperature of plus seven, trying to fall asleep while simultaneously drying your socks on your chest using your own body heat. Pretty common, every one of us went camping and lived in such conditions. For two or three days.
This is not a customary soldiers’ supper, quit dreaming. This is the soldiers being very happy with the presents, so they tried to show all the hospitality they can offer under their conditions. Take a look: on the table there is salt, a packet of tea, a couple of tins of canned food, and some jars with home preserves. Let’s try and guess which of the above was supplied to the soldiers by the Ministry of Defense.
At this, the cursory inspection of the unremarkable living conditions can come to an end, and we can move on from the material to the spiritual. And from the spiritual in these conditions the soldiers have only motivation.
An understanding, so to speak, of their goal. And while the goal is clear, they are ready for anything. As far as that is at all possible in the bitter Mykolaiv steppe on the eve of winter.
Who are these people? The most common of men of different ages, professions and viewpoints. One thing unites them. To the question “how do you know that you will win?” they reply: “we know what we are fighting for, and they don’t. We feel support behind us, and they don’t.”
We are completely stunned, to be honest. By these guys here, who do not lose hope and confidence in each other, even though they sit miles from anywhere, in hellish conditions. And in the hellish uncertainty they are helped by thoughts about us. You, specifically you, give them hope. When these blokes smile – it is to you they are smiling. In the steppe there is no-one else to smile to and no-one to thank.
The things bought now will radically help the guys to settle in their new location in the zone of the ATO [anti-terrorism operation]. But. There is still not enough. The unit is completely run down. Sasha asked not to write this and generally not to talk about how bad things are in reality, but Sasha can go command his platoon, and not interfere with freedom of speech. The unit. Is completely. Up shit creek.
Now there is an offer to equip the APC’s [armoured personnel carriers] with anti-cumulative screens. We are asked to pay for the metal – the welding and the work of the volunteers will be free. The offer is extremely profitable and tempting, but even so, according to preliminary estimates, it will cost around 50 thousand hryvnias, hopefully less.
In addition, two weeks ago we published material about an ambulance volunteer named Puma, who believes that every unit has a medical UAZ attached to it. Well, Puma is wrong. Not every unit. Right now Sasha is asking to find any car with a diesel engine which can fit stretchers, so the unit can take it on their balance. Do you happen to accidentally have this lying around? We don’t. We are looking for it. And this also costs money.
So in general, even supplying only Sasha’s platoon (good news – Sasha was appointed vice-platoon leader) ends up as some unimaginable money, and the more you look into all this, the more discouraged you get. Whatever you think of – they don’t have it. How in these conditions grown men who look upon all this every bloody day and in this total ruin and oblivion, live and are even planning to wage war and gain victory – is completely unclear.
Our guys really need your help and support. The stuff we bought is pretty good help in the war, but as usual, it is not enough. On the scale of the unit it is nothing. Any day now the guys will be sent into the ATO zone (actually, they should have sent them in a couple of days ago now, but that is just how the army is, it is quite unpredictable), and only after deployment can they firmly pinpoint their needs. And we will continue to cover the state of affairs in the 28th Brigade. And this trip of ours is not the last.
We understand that you, folks, have already sent us all of your available means the last time. And this last time was a week ago. But you never know, maybe the last time you thought “nah, even without me there will be a generous Vasya, who will pay for the soldiers, let Poltorak pay them.” So, the bad news – Poltorak will not pay, and the generous Vasya has already paid. Now it is your turn. For people who asked for Yandex-money – we found and put up a Yandex-purse, please show us that we did not do this in vain. Because the winter is not just near. The winter is here already.
We have 10 to 20 thousand people reading us each day. If each of you, folks, for at least one week forgo beer and cigarettes, you will save up a sum of around 200 hryvnias. And 20 thousand times 200 hryvnias is already 4 million.
So what are you waiting for? The hryvnia is already devaluing right in your hands. Use her to do a good deed while this is still possible!
Card for the transfer of funds:
Privat: 4149 6059 1120 5524 (Igor Shedrin)
Yandex purse: 41001690315741
Petr&Mazepa, The armor is strong, Part 1