What the Ukrainian and Russian military men fight for: Reflections of the veteran of the Second Chechen War/
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Once I was on duty, already in Russia, there was a terrible heat, but on the occasion of arrival of a minister we were dressed up in black-and-blue semi-synthetic uniform which we hated preferring cotton cammies.
A woman approached to me standing in the cordon, and said: "Why are you in such clothes; it is hot". I was already prepared to hear the words of pity, but the woman suddenly said: "You are in this form similar to the SS-men", and left me.
In those years, I still could not understand why they treat ill to us; after all we gave the oath, followed orders of command, which, they say, save someone.
We have not heard any words of support or respect from not only people, but also our command. The attitude to us was as to mercenaries. I has realized later the validity of such a relationship. But one thing I can not understand so far is how my former comrades-in-arms carry out to this day orders of those who cheated us in Chechnya. They execute the orders now not in Chechnya, and in the Crimea and Donbas.
In contrast to the Ukrainian soldiers who know what they are fighting for, we have justified ourselves during the war that we just follow orders. Someone has already realized that the war in Chechnya is unfair, you can not attack a country that having gone through so much suffering because of the ambitions of a "great imperial neighbor" just wanted to live separately like many other countries of the former Soviet Union. And this country is not just lucky with its location and the fact that the pipeline from Azerbaijan passes through its territory.
You must not be proud of awards for Chechnya. Dates of the Chechen war are only sorrowful exergue. Russia betrayed her soldiers in the war, and then mocked them at home. And the fact that someone from the Russian veterans of Chechnya goes to war with Ukraine is akin to masochism and schizophrenia. After all, we has repeatedly step on this rake starting with Afghanistan.
LOST BY THE COMMAND
I calmly communicate and I'm on friendly terms with the former Ichkeria fighters and current soldiers of the Ukrainian army. We can understand each other as soldiers. But many of my former comrades-in-arms from the war in Chechnya hate all Chechens, all Georgians, and now all Ukrainians. They are still "fighting" in their heads still carrying the Kremlin's orders. Although they know that the Kremlin regards to them as to garbage. You can talk about this at least with prisoned fighters from GRU (main intelligence directorate of the Russian General Staff) Yerofeyev and Alexandrov. Their fate is not watched by the entire world, their country does not fight for them, there are not rallies for their release, they are not like Nadezhda Savchenko.
They have been lost how the used toilet paper. By their own commanders as it was always the case.
FOR PEOPLE AND AGAINST THE PEOPLE
The main difference between Ukrainian and Russian military men is that the former fight for their people, while the latter are at war with a foreign nation.
It is impossible to imagine in Russia the social video clips which are produced in Ukraine in support of their army. It is impossible to imagine in Russia a nationwide volunteer support of the army as in Ukraine.
As my familiar veteran of operations from the Ukrainian army jokes, "Ukraine has no nuclear weapons because volunteers have not already booked them".
When a soldier knows what he is fighting for, when he sees how he is treated by people, when they applaud to military men at the stations, and meet the dead fighters in the villages standing on one knee, he can not lose.
Yes, the Ukrainian army has still many problems. This is natural, given the state in which it was before 2014. This is natural in a country with a rich and lasting post-Soviet past, the former leaders of which long years after disintegration of the Soviet Union just did that squeezed their country to the last drop.
But Ukraine knows what is fighting for. In contrast to Russia. And when the soldier who rode with us on the train wnt out of the car, we also told him: "Thank you." It is not difficult, and it is necessary not only to him but also to us.
Dmitry Florin, the Russian journalist, Valentina Syamro, Kiev
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