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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Combat bullets

    The “Azov” fighter got out of the complete encirclement of the enemy, with two wounds. He had been crawling for around 10 hours


    АвторAuthor: Kateryna Bankova | Translation: Mariia Orletska

    8 September 2022

    Oleksandr “AZOV” Novoselskii is a machine gunner of the special purpose company named after the Kulchytskii battalion of the National Guard. Right after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on the territories of Ukraine I joined the ranks of the defenders. He was shot two times which left him 2 bullet wounds when he was in Donbas. He was thought dead, but Oleksandr managed to get out of encirclement. Taking it into consideration, he helped his comrades-in-arms. Read more in “Monologues of the War”.

    We were collecting intelligence near Bilohorivka. Due to electronic warfare the connection was cut down so our Ukrainian soldiers could not use jets and find the placement of the enemy. We cleaned up several forest strips and ran up against the enemy. It was Wagner group, a company of Guards Marines and their “volunteers” from the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic. There were 30 of us and then 10 times more. It was the first time we had such close fire contact with the enemy. The distance was from 50 to 100 meters.

    Our main group remained in the plantation, which we had already cleared up. Intelligence group, where I was, my comrade-in-arms Dmytro Finashyn, aka Fin, and 5 other guys split into two teams and began to clear the opposite part of territory. We went to the left side, the second group worked on top.

    As a machine-gunner, I stayed in the lowest position near bushes. I saw a group of Russian soldiers lining up.They stand in checkerboard battle formation, wearing Fast helmets. Their form was not the usual one, but FROG (flame resistant).

    The battle began, we gave a normal repulse, I began machine gunning. We went to join up with our second group. When I was covering the boys, I received the first bullet wound in the shoulder.

    A military on a combat mission

    Oleksandr performs a combat mission

    The soldiers from the second group left as we had no connection. One of their fighters remained. We continued the fight. There was already fire contact, we were wounded, so the best solution was to fight back. I received another bullet wound, this time in the back.

    I know that the AK penetrates well, especially at close range. The first bullet entered my shoulder and stuck. I didn’t really feel it. But when it hit my back, I felt it . I went down to Fin, I said: “Look, look what I have there, what is my status – cargo 300(means wounded) or not.” And he told me: “Yes, a mosquito bit you, it’s okay!” He bandaged it, and he himself, already when we met in Kyiv, said: “I look, and there is an entrance hole. There is no way out, and blood is still flowing. What can you do to help? What kind of person are you? Some kind of reptilian!”

    Bullet wound

    Bullet wound

    Two of our fighters tried to retreat and miscalculated the route. They went across the field, the first crawled out so that the enemy machine gunner was 30 meters away from him. The grass ran out, he climbed out, and was shot dead. Another guy who was with him waited until the fire died down and came back to us.

    “Ah, we must find Azov and destroy”

    Our group ran out of ammunition, so we were ordered to retreat. The combat kit was not for such an intense battle. We generally arrive at the positions before the gunners dig in. We don’t have to fight around the clock. We have other tasks.

    The boys flew away, they did not see our bodies. This is not a settlement, but simply God-forsaken bushes. Therefore, no one would give all their fighters simply for a piece of land. The command made a decision for the boys to retreat. And it was right. It would be illogical to make our smaller number of fighters even smaller.

    I, Dmytro, and one more guy, the one who was trying to leave, remained. Dima was injured. Then 300 was already him, not me. First, his finger was torn off, and then his arm was completely cut off from the shoulder joint to the elbow. I applied a tourniquet and injected him with painkillers. We provided medical assistance to each other while lying down. If I raised my hand I would be killed so we hid in the grass.

    We are completely surrounded. The enemy raised a helicopter to look for us. In addition, our walkie-talkies said that I was wounded and called my call sign – “Azov”. The katsaps were triggered: “Ah, Azov, we must find and destroy.” They shouted at us, and morally pressured us. Through the radio station of the fighter who was shot, they told our group that there were 200 of us, and to us: “Surrender, wherever you are crawling, you will not get out of here.” The situation is terrible: the body of your comrade-in-arms was lying, who was killed by the soldiers of the Russian Federation and they were speaking to you from his corpse.

    Combat mission of the military

    Oleksandr performs a combat mission

    The Katsaps launched the first group from the LDPR to us, they are considered dogsbodies there. We threw an F1 grenade. They blew up, and they thought that there were mines here. It saved our lives. They didn’t attack us anymore.

    Our group and I haven’t had water for a day. Dima and I were on combat missions for the third time in a row, that is, several days without sleep. I was wounded, I was also dragging the wounded Dmytro, he was tied to my leg with a belt.

    We had to be evacuated and given medical assistance. To do this, it was necessary to inform our group that we were alive at all. And we didn’t have the connection, the electronic communications system jammed everything, there was no radio station. The boy who stayed with us was almost out of his mind with fear. He didn’t answer the questions, and started walking away from us.

    I had to go. I left Dima with that soldier, I asked him to at least help Dimon. Little by little, 15 centimeters per minute, I crossed the road. The mortars of the 128th brigade worked well, it gave me the opportunity to pass normally. I rolled over. “Guys, what’s up with you?” I hear voices that everything is fine.

    “I think maybe I’m already dead?”

    I began to look for our soldiers, it was easy to guess where, who walked, because the branches were broken, you can see where they crawled through the grass. I tried to reach these paths with the last of my strength, to wait for someone. I had a gun, I shot into the air, shouted “Glory to Ukraine”, shouted the boys’ call signs. No one answered.

    There was a clay ditch on the road, 7 meters deep. Once there was a river there, it dried up, and a depression remained. I fell into that ditch and hit my head on a stone. Good thing I had a helmet.

    Consciousness faded. It was quarter to seven. I came to my senses around seven o’clock. Ihad a rush of adrenaline, I had strength. I started looking for our soldiers, but there was no one. I thought, maybe I was already dead.

    Read also: “I’ve lived through this war with every fellow Ukrainian” — a woman from Ukraine, who works in Paris, told us how she has experienced the war

    The Russians blocked the road to Soledar, where we started: Soledar-Yakovlivka-Bilohorivka. Between Bilogorivka and Yakovlivka we had these “parties with katsaps’ ‘. I didn’t understand what to do: the way to Soledar was cut off for me, it remained only to follow the route that the boys left behind.

    What really confused me was the fact that there was no one at all – neither the katsaps nor ours, only artillery shot and there was the sound of equipment. Artillery and mortar were working as well as Uragan shelling with clusters, but people, equipment – nothing, only sound. I followed the sound of the mortar: as one simple shot, I understood that our positions were there, because they fired just in the direction of the enemy. And where there was a volley of batteries, the enemy worked on ours. I was guided by these sounds. 

    I walked through the fields, they did not end. Thoughts about Dima were in my head. In two hours, I went near Volodymyrivka, where I had been on reconnaissance a few days ago. This was the district of Popasna. I was there with binoculars looking at the enemy positions, and now here they were. I wouldn’t go back to mine, I know that there were mines, I definitely wouldn’t go through it. All around were equipment, corpses of our boys, a lot of corpses of soldiers.

    “There was such a tank battle that I had never seen even in a movie. The battalion of the first tank brigade, the royal 24th, went on the offensive against the katsaps in Donbas. The forces were equal there. I talked to guys from the Kherson region, they had three tanks. Ours then lost a company of fighters somewhere, but took about a battalion of katsaps to the other world.”

    I looked at all this and thought, this must be purgatory. Because how so? I didn’t drink, I didn’t eat, I couldn’t walk, but here I had strength.

    In general, I am a person of faith, but here I finally believed. While walking, I said to God: “If I survive, I have three requests for you, Lord. The first is for Fin to be alive, the second is for me to be rescued, and the third is for there to be water.” I wanted to drink terribly. Fin and I ate so much grass in the field to get at least some moisture. 

    The Russians launched the Orlan drone. It spotted me, and they threw mines at me. This is how it is done – one in front of you, another behind you, the third in front of you. The first one took off, I understood that “Orlan” spotted me, I remembered how I was advised to approach the mortar during the shelling. They expect that you will run away from them, but you, on the contrary, come at them. I fooled the mortar like that and saved myself. Then that drone was shot down with MANPADS (man-portable air-defense system).

    “Bilohorivka? It is 30 km from the enemy’s positions”

    I went out on the road, just as the guys from the 8th SOF regiment, who shot down the “Orlan”, picked me up. I told them where I was serving, where I had been, that my fellow soldiers had remained, that they had to be found. “Bilohorivka? It’s 30 km to the enemy’s positions, you had to go through artillery fire.” I showed them on the map where I was, where the positions were, where the boys were.

    I got injured somewhere around 11 am, and they took me away at quarter past eight in the evening. Somewhere like that. All this time – a battle and a road.

    Our soldiers coordinated and started looking for guys. It turned out that the third one left Fin. Fin himself disguised himself so well that he could not be found for two days.

    Someone from the group called my wife and said that I had died. It was a wrong action, probably because of fear. “The body will not be there, he died in the rear of the enemy, we are trying to take it, but everything is mined, there are heavy battles. The infantry will not get there, only with equipment, we will take the body, but after some time.” And in two hours I called from Bakhmut. She had a terrible tantrum. I tell her not to shout at me, it’s okay, and the doctor told me – not to shout at the woman, and I say not to shout at me 🙂

    I couldn’t live a normal life until I knew Fin was okay. I thought how it could have been done differently, maybe I should have stayed with him. On the other hand, I understood that if I had not gone, had not given the coordinates, no one would have been looking for us at all. The feelings were extremely unpleasant.

    Evacuation of the military

    Finn’s evacuation

    Finn will still be in the hospital. It is necessary for the nerve cells to tighten, there must be muscle rehabilitation. Then it will be possible to put on a prosthesis. And for me, everything healed quite quickly. On the 23th of May, I was wounded, and everything took less than a month.

    “I understood that if there was a full scale, it would be as it is now”

    On the 24th, I visited friends in Kryvyi Rih. I already knew that it would be full-scale, so I told the boys that it was enough to fool around, everything was serious, take the family away from Kryvyi Rih, save your life, and I would go to war. It was on the 23rd.

    I have met this enemy before. I understood that if there was a full scale, then it would be as it is now. This enemy has neither military conscience nor honor, they know nothing human. It would be very painful.

    What did the katsaps see in their lives? If they are surprised by the infrastructure in our villages, they are also surprised by washing machines. Their motivation: “Go, Vanka, do something good for the family, get a couple of million rubles for your wife.” And what they came up with, all this is the people of Donbas, well, you yourself understand everything. And they understand. And the Russians have such an imperial position – conquer everyone, punish everyone, kill everyone.

    At first I was on the Euromaidan in the right sector, then we became a squad of men dressed in black, we went to Kharkiv to the club “Oplot”. Then all this became “Azov”. Then came the liberation of Mariupol, Marinka, Ilovaisk, and the Shyrokyne standoff. After “Azov” I stopped fighting and I fell in love, my family appeared, and I quit.

    They do not have the task of conquering some settlement. Their task is to break the backbone of the Ukrainian army. Yes, our artillery is more accurate.Their are inaccurate, but they have many times more barrels and  an infinite number of ammo. No matter what anyone says, yes, they are dirty, unwashed, but not all of them. They have special forces, which are taught no worse than our Ukrainian soldiers. They have sharp snipers. Do not underestimate the enemy.

    Many have joined the Territorial Defence Forces, but they will be trained until they are ready. It’s not like they were taken from the minibus and sent to death, as with the katsaps. We don’t have this in Ukraine, people are protected here. Having this experience, I would not forgive myself if I did not go there.

    A wounded soldier in hospital

    Wounded Fin in the hospital

    This is my vocation. I finished my service in 2016. I became engaged in business,built a family. We lived well. If I wanted to, I could have taken my family and went to Europe. I had such an opportunity. But what would I tell myself, my children, that I could, but did not?

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Kateryna Bankova | Translation: Mariia Orletska


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