What the Ukrainian and Russian military men fight for: Reflections of the veteran of the Second Chechen War
... Only on March, 12, 23 bodies of militants killed by Avdeevka were delivered in Donetsk Clinical Hospital. And 34 wounded, too. Are they really militants? Local bloggers write that "militants" are regular Russian units for a long time. Only occasionally you can see a stray "militant" on the streets that escaped from some distant outpost. City of Donetsk has been flooded with the Russian military men. Most of them are already of the age of maturity, 45-50 years. They drive expensive cars with Russian numbers. And there are quite a lot of them in Donetsk ...
The soldiers are both on one, and on the other side of the front which is called the "delimitation line". Only a soldier which goes to war in the form with an Ukrainian chevron, knows what he is fighting for. He knows, his family knows, his friends, neighbors, people on the street, every Ukrainian knows. There may be different views on the war, the methods how it is doing and its expediency, but the attitude to the friendly military men remains unchanged - these people really defend the country.
This is something that is absent, and never was in the Russian army. Because the wars in recent years unleashed by the Kremlin are a shame and betrayal of its own soldiers. And if the Ukrainian military at the forefront is the defender of the country and its population, the Russian one is the Kremlin's mercenary and occupier.
A man in a military uniform has gone in the Intercity train at the station. Everyday business with regard to the events of the past two years. A military uniform causes a few people's respond, and not all can discern by external signs is this an activist of any patriotic organization "fighting" mainly in meetings and social networks, or a soldier returning from the front.
Looking at the man who has sat down in a chair not far from me I immediately recognized him as a veteran. By his view. I know this view of a man been in hell and returned back, looking at everything alternatively, with the realization of a price of "normal" civilian life. He looks at everything that happens as at a heaven, and is very sensitive to any negative whether it's someone's rudeness, a vehicle left at the pedestrian crossing, or mountains of rubbish on the sites of picnics.
All the people around are friends, because he fought for them, so they are all friends. And it seems that everyone is happy just he is that everyone can breathe and walk quietly without fear of shots.
It is because of this sense of "all around are friends" as at the forefront in the same dugout, he behaves in such manner, too. To break the awkward silence that has arisen among those sitting next to him, he began to tell them about himself.
The story was long, we have learnt from it that he was not a rookie at the front, and now he was there for 9 months. His wife gave birth to his son while he was in the war. He had never seen this child. He likes children very much, and passing the car and seeing somewhere the kids, he stopped and began to play with them. He ransacked his pockets, ran to search in the reefing jacket and a backpack to find something as a gift for children. Then he silently berated himself "I've handed out already everything, I'm a fool."
He talked about the war, about Debaltsevo, about how his comrades-in-arms perished, and it is a pity that they were going so long, it was necessary to go to Donetsk earlier, about dreams in which he saw everything about his home, about the civilians in those places where he fought, about the fact that he could not understand: no one wants war, but the war is still going on. As if it is switched on by someone.
The guy in a nearby chair became interested in photography in his phone, and the soldier has shown and told him about the war as a lecturer. But only the lecturer who knows the subject, but hates it.
The soldier was from an artillery reconnaissance squad. He talked about the aiming circles, about the shells, about the self-propelled guns, about how his reconnaissance platoon had come close to the enemy positions to convey artillery coordinates, and then adjusted the fire, when you have been shelled not only by enemies, but also by friendly fire, because you are in the sector of fire from both sides.
The people in the car were silenced. The faces shown that they listen. Listen with respect. The soldier told me that he really wants to see his family and the child whom he did not see, but he must at first fulfill his duty: today he was not going home, and to his father's grave. Ii is located in another city, and he will pass Vinnitsa, where his family lives. He said that now he goes to the cemetery to his father's tomb, and tomorrow he just would go on this train back home to his family.
At the next station, when people came out of the car, someone passing in front of him said quietly. "Thank you"
I remembered how I had gone in olden times to fight in Chechnya. After temporary duties to the war, I resigned and returned to journalism, I began to understand that Russia is doing in the Caucasus. And in these days, in the car, when people thanked the Ukrainian soldier who was riding from the war, I have envied him. Humanly, as a veteran, too, remembering what happened to me and to all those who went to the Chechen Republic.
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