Taras Deyak: "In the battle we reserve the last grenade for ourselves"
In late August, 9 members of the "Carpathian Sich" youth sports and patriotic organization left from Uzhgorod to the ATO zone. The boys joined the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps that helps the regular army to hold approaches to the Donetsk airport. Recently they returned home - without losses and injuries. The head of the "Carpathian Sich" Taras Deyak told the "Uzhgorod" what they saw at the forefront.
- Taras, you decided to go to war long ago. Why did you go in August?
- Yes, we were preparing, training, looking for like-minded people. But we had to wait for the order to leave. We received this order in late August - when separatists and Russian troops began an active attack on the Donetsk airport and our colleagues urgently needed support.
- What were you thinking about when leaving?
- We were going there to win. Not so long ago, we buried our brother Orest - he was a fighter of the "Aydar" battalion. Many of our men have been killed in this war, so we want to stop it. There was a desire for revenge too.
- Were you immediately sent to the front?
- No. At first, we came to the base of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps between Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk. There, boys and girls are trained before going to war. The ten of us (including a good friend from Donetsk) formed the 5th division of the assault company, did some more training, met with the command (commanders take only tested men) and only then we were sent to the checkpoint. Once we got used to it a bit, it was decided that we can go to the front - in the village of Pisky, which actually borders on the territory of Donetsk airport. Terrorists attack it every day, and each time our soldiers heroically defeat them. Those are the VUC, the 93rd mechanized brigade and the "Dnipro-1" battalion. Separatists are desperately trying to surround and defeat us. And our task is to hold the position.
- Did you have protective gear?
- Yes, we bought it in Uzhgorod. Something was bought with our own money, and other things were donated by philanthropists. One resident of Uzhgorod (he does not want to reveal his name) gave us a great amount of money that we bought a lot of useful things with. Basically we were going fully prepared, but without weapons. We received it at the base.
- Weren't you afraid to go to the front as soldiers of the VUC, which is actually a part of the Right Sector? It is known that separatists hate the Right Sector the most and never release its fighters from captivity alive.
- It's true, prisoners from the Right Sector are always tortured to death. Therefore, in the battle, we reserve the last grenade for ourselves to not let them take us alive. But when we were going, we tried not to think about it. I find it annoying when relatives of the soldiers say good-bye to them and cry, as if at the funeral. We are not going to die.
- What tasks were you performing on the front?
- The assault company of the VUC performs a variety of tasks, ranging from reconnaissance to covering artillery, mortars, tanks, APCs, and our position, adjustment of artillery and mortar fire. In short, we provide a physical defense as there are little infantry on our joint positions. One of the divisions had to protect a spotter. That guy from the Right Sector was looking for positions of militants, reported data to the military, and then the artillery would "work" on them. That spotter, naturally, was very important for all of us, so he was well guarded. We would also go in night raids with him. Once we got caught in an ambush. They fired at us with everything they had. In the first minute, half of the information, that I had obtained during the military training, flew out of my head, but then I took a grip on myself and did everything right. In fact, we were lucky, because after a while, separatists themselves ceased firing. If they had continued, we would hardly have been able to get out alive.
- What did this fight teach you?
- The most important thing is to obey the commander. If he is smart and you trust him, you have to do whatever he says. A lot of guys, unfortunately, paid with their lives because they did not fulfill the commands. Of course, there may be tragic coincidences. Once after a night sortie, we went to sleep in a dilapidated house and a mortar hit the yard and killed one of our men. None of us is immune to such risks.
- How much is the village of Pisky destroyed?
- Almost completely. At first it was occupied by separatists, then our troops repelled them. Now, the militants shell it, trying to get us. Therefore, now there are a few intact houses there. Most residents of Pisky have long gone, but a few elderly people still remain. They sit in cellars almost all the time. The people there are scared, but treat our soldiers well. Although, frankly, we do not trust them. Once, they brought us juice, and I long hesitated to drink it.
- You were fighting alongside the regular army. What do you think about our troops?
- Heroic guys. It is very hard for them on this war, because many do not understand why they have to fight. They have been betrayed by command, often they run units themselves. We have seen, for example, a private running troops instead of a commander. We ask, where their command is, and they say: that one has been at the meeting for two weeks, that one is in the hospital - they're left alone. And they are all in rags: pants from one set of uniform, tunic - from the other; some wear sneakers, others - ordinary shoes or even rubber slippers. No wonder they are angry at their command, have no confidence in them. There have been many times when we could go ahead, move the frontline further! But, we are standing still because there is no order...
- Did you coordinate your activities, or do army men treat you with suspicion?
- There is a coordination, as well as comprehensive support. Soldiers often shared with us ammunition, gave food and water. We helped them too whenever we could. They turned to our doctor many times, and asked us not to leave those positions. I think we keep their morale with our zeal and patriotism.
- How did soldiers on the front embrace the news of the truce?
- We were all just shocked, I almost cried when I heard about it! What truce?! They continue to fire at us. Every day, or rather every night, it's all over again.
- Then why did you choose to return?
- I did not want to leave, but the guys persuaded me. It's just that after a while a soldier starts to feel some kind of unhealthy excitement, when fear disappears and you want to do something heroic and stupid. We felt it ourselve, when during the shootings we began shouting to the enemy: "Come on, shoot, I'm here!" - or sing songs. Once I caught myself thinking of running out of the hideaway right to separatists. It's a good thing that I got a grip of myself, because that obviously would have been my last act. The command advised us to get some rest at home. We obeyed. One of the argument for us was the news that in Uzhgorod former Party of Regions members again try to get to the parliament. But I think very soon we will be back in the ATO area, because the war is far from over.
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