Sachko Olexander, the Head of the Right Sector of Transcarpathia, having returned to Uzhgorod from hot Ukrainian East, talks about the front, the military routine, tasks to perform together with his fellows who are "ideological" soldiers, as well as about the organization they are going to develop in the region now and Battalion of Ukrainian Volunteer Corps. And also about the thoughts in Putin’s head and history lessons Ukraine should learn …
– What is the difference between our ATO (anti-terrorist operation), or actually the war, and other armed conflicts of modern times?
– Everything is defferent. Absolutely everything. Formally, we have the anti-terrorist operation, but actually it’s a war. The full-scale war. Thanks God it did not extend as far as it could. But if we continue sitting on our bumps it will surely extend. Because nobody really knows what is happening in Mr. Putin lalala’s head. Just in case he sees that Ukrainians are so reluctant to protect their own state …
– Ukrainian Volunteer Corps – what is its status right now?
– We are forming the battalions in the region. Transcarpathian battalion is the first one, number one. We already have the second battalion of Lviv, third of Volyn, fourth of Rivne, fifth of Ivano-Frankivsk and sixth of Ternopil. Totally there should be more than twenty of these reserve battalions. In general, anyone may join Ukrainian volunteer corpse, not only the members of the Right Sector. The Right Sector and the right nationalist organizations of Ukraine constitute the base, but the structure does not have a form of political party and is not under the Right Sector’s control. This is voluntary military formation, which has only combative tasks.
– How do you communicate with the military? Aren’t they jealous of the famous Right Sector? Is there any competition?
– For God’s sake, no. There’s no competition. On the contrary, we made friends with those military units that are located next to us. There should be no competition if people go into the battle day by day, sitting under fire in a trench every night, risking their lives and health together and covering each others backs. This is something even more than family.
– Dmitro Jarosh in his comments repeatedly said that the state does not give you weapons and that there are more volunteers who are not involved, due to the lack of weapons …
– Yes. Above all we are short of shooting arms. Not to tell about the heavy weapons – everything we have are the trophies we torn off the enemies hands, because we have no other choice. We are even lacking basic small arms, as well as the ammunition. Sorely lacking. The military share with us what they can, but they also often have problems with delivery … There were cases when we were left with half-cone cartridges per person after the operation, and really did not know whether to laugh or to cry. Thanks God for saving us … But now even that was impossible because, unfortunately, we already have the dead: our brethren was buried recently in Horodenka. There are no losses among the Transcarpathians, the guys are alive and well; I’ve just talked to them and they are under fire of mortars and "Grad" for a few days already, but are kept steady … They entered the suburbs of Donetsk and step by step they are clearing, squeezing the separatists … They dragged over some enemy forces and hope that it will be a valuable help for the military and the operation in general.
– What operations are the Transcarpathians involved into?
– Everything is simple: the Transcarpathians are involved in all the operations together with their battalions. We do not stay behind and it will not because we are the best.
– As to these movements that take in the Western Ukraine now, those strange protests, blocking of roads … What is your attitude to that?
– Very negative.
– There is an assumption that this is not an emotional reaction of women but a planned provocation?
– I think both of them. Partially there is hysterical reaction of women who do not want to let their husbands to the war at any price, well, because "they may be killed". Surely that might happen. But, no matter how cynical it would sound – it is better to fight on those lands than here. I want to "comfort" all the residents of Transcarpathia, if this war does not end there, in the East, it will come here. It will not just stop by itself. And separatists will not sit and wait until they will be presented with Lugansk and Donetsk and thus everything stops. Absolutely not. I’d like to disappoint everyone: enemy is not going to calm down. They will move on and will go forward until they do not face a serious resistance. And we must either defend and squeeze that infection or let them come here.
– As to the protests happening here, the Right Sector has some information, do they? ..
– Clearly there are Russian agents here. Definitely. Most likely Russian sponsors to be found, as well as money from Russia or its close structures. For sure, Russian special services act here together with those parties, which are so to say, "the selected separatists."
– Volunteers have a special status. That is, they do not have any in fact. It is clear that at first nobody would care about that. But still …
– You do not need any status. We did not ask for it, we do not ask and never will. There is an article in the Constitution, which states that the protection of the state is the direct and immediate duty of every single citizen of Ukraine. It’s first of all. Secondly, we fall under the definition of "combatant" according to the international laws. This is about a volunteer who is fighting side by side with the regular army. In this light we fully meet international requirements – we have the command, we follow the discipline, we have a clear hierarchy and structure, we have relevant insignia that are visible at a specified distance, as well as in the battle we do not commit any criminal offenses … That is, the Hague Court will support us as according to the international agreements we fully meet the definition of "combatants." We do not need awards, neither ask or demand something. The only thing we ask for is weapon. Weapons, weapons, weapons – the more the better. We can set up to five thousand fighters who may immediately join into this fight, maybe will be able to reverse its course. Give us 5 thousand weapons. Give us 10, 15 thousand – and there will be more people who will want to fight, who do not hang around and cry, that do not give bribes to the military offices and do not hide behind their women’s skirts.
– Now it is popular to share online one of the quotes from the intercepted conversations of enemies "Ukrainians have learned how to fight. They are the army! ". I remember your older message, which in particular, contained the phrase that "the army is helpless." Has the situation changed?
– Something has changed. The army is no longer helpless. The headquarters are helpless. The General Staff is still as helpless as it was. Moreover, it has a lot of treacherous elements. Too many traitors. Soldiers at the locations and the officers in the field do not understand what is happening in the headquarters. They do not understand when… Well, I was an eye-witness, we were there … Soldiers are given orders to capture the height, and two kilometers before reaching that height the soldiers reported that it was taken, and separatists attacked that place with "Grad" in just a few minutes, exactly the same height. What reaction the soldiers should have? How to explain this? You may draw your own conclusions … … And soldiers, they fight, Ukrainian soldiers are really good. Ukrainians have always been good soldiers. The only thing is that, as I understand, we do not mentally perceive the war for good. Mentally, creation and building is determining factor for the Ukrainians. We create, we build, we bring to life, but we do not destroy. We take up the war as a necessary evil. And we all hope that it will all end soon. But actually Ukrainians are good fighters, we learn quickly, we are very good at improvising (and improvisations may turn out to be very interesting (smiles – auth.)). It’s a pity that this ‘s not very well understood and appreciated at the "top" – by the military political leaders …
– I feel it is about particular interesting examples …
– For example, when we took the mayor of Kurakhovo, a very interesting uncle … He told us everything: who he was, what he did at the referendum conducted for the separation, how he was helping separatists with provision, money and building the barricades, where our boys were dying … He told absolutely everything, testified in writing and on video, but then someone from somewhere started to pull the strings across all over Ukraine, there were calls from very high offices and interesting parties that are still in the Parliament with the demands to release this man. The police and the Security Service refused to arrest him. Well, that’s the story … And we even did not know what to do with him afterwards.
– Police at that location, probably it has interesting characters, don’t they?
– We have seen how the police "revived from the ashes" in the liberated cities. They appeared from somewhere at some point, all in nice caps, clean uniforms, and it appeared that the police had been there all that time, everything was cool. And we asked them – guys, how come you did not fight, there were criminals, terrorists … "What we could do, we could do nothing about it …". Well, if you can not do anything, why the hell should the state feed you? If they can not cope with their functional responsibilities for which they are paid a salary, let they go to do business or get into some other profession. But this is not the police, it is not law enforcement organization.
– It is clear that not only those people who passed Maidan are now at the war, but these are still numerous. How do they communicate with former "Berkut" antimaidan fighters?
– Yes, there’re lots of people from Maidan … and "Berkut" … I’ve seen the guys from "Berkut" at the checkpoints at Dnipropetrovsk, on the way to Donetsk. And then, I did not see them there, close to the front.
– What can people at the rear to promote the victory? What do you need there?
– We need help. We need support. We need volunteers. We need food for example. Because the state does not help us, we only get support from people and it was actually the community that contributed to the formation of our first and second battalions. Now Ukrainian society holds Volunteer Corps. We need medicine, we have an urgent need. Rubber binders, dressing material. We have an urgent need for analgesic drugs. After all, cigarettes and good water, because there’s a big problem with this. If possible – military equipment, we immediately pack and ship it to where it is needed most of all. We need optics, rangefinders, night sights, binoculars – all these things are a ‘musthave’. Communication equipment. We have a separate closed network, in which we communicate, and we use the generally available radio sets like «Kenwood», «Midland» – they will do and we need some extra. After all, imagine – a brigade commander sends an order to the commander of the battalion via a mobile phone with public operator like MTS. This is by the way one of those differences that distinguish our ATO from other wars that were fought in the last 5-10 years (smiles – auth.). The army, unfortunately, was destroyed to the ground and it was left far behind our opponents. Many military saw kevlar helmets for the first time in their life. However, we almost did not wear any body armor. Now we started to use it for there’re are strong attacks and fragments. The military are surprised even with such ordinary things as three-point belts – they have not seen them yet. And knee and elbow protectors would be very useful. And these are the things that should be available without any discussions. If we value life and health of every single soldier, who is there, we should get him armored, we should provide him with normal outfit and weapons. He must be fed, after all. He must understand that he will be evacuated from the battlefield in case of injury and will be provided with good medical care. And we do not ask even for these things. The only demand we have, or rather a cry – "Give us the weapons!".
– What are the ordinary, human things that surprise you there?
– I was surprised with trips to town (we had to go to Dnipropetrovsk). It was somewhat difficult to see people walking around, eating ice cream, going for a walk in the park, kissing, and to see kids playing … And in just a few dozens of kilometers … But I’m glad that everything is calm, nothing rattles here. It’s hard for guys to adapt after all that. But I am convinced that everything will be okay: young body, healthy mind, normal, strong. I think everything will be fine – we will heal our wounds, recover and go back.
– What about everyday life?
– Life is life there. The guys who smoke have serious problem with cigarettes. For Transcarpathians it was hard to get used to swimming, because we are accustomed to mountain streams, and there were only reeds, marshes, and it was just somewhat unpleasant … And then we found a corpse up the river stream… Everyday life? Many thanks to those women who are with us preparing normal, adequate food, but do not add salt or pepper. That is rather problematic … Nobody makes coffee, it’s terrible! Just awful! But now we taught them a little bit, and guys from Lviv were up to coffee and it became a bit easier – well, Western Ukraine is Western Ukraine! (Smiles – auth.) … In everyday terms … We have no time for those things actually. Operations are held day after day. It’s good when people have time to wash and have a little snack, but in reality you do not want to eat there. I do not know if it’s psychological problem or what but the most important is to get some sleep, opt your head out. There is no time even to analyze. It is only possible upon return, when you look back and see that from the side. But when there, you just do not think about it.
– Is the prospect of a full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine real?
– As the Russian policy is illogical, obscure, no one can predict from any geopolitical or strategic positions, nor from any signs, which actually prove the actions of certain country … Any predictions just do not fit to Russia… Analysis does not work here …
– Does it all depend on the "wires" that may short-circuit in the head of Putin?
– Well, these wires unfortunately have already made a short circuit in his head, as I understand. And his decisions will determine the fate of the Russians first of all. Unfortunately, they are all hostages of the will of one man. They allowed it and now are happy about it, pretty much happy. Well, apparently, the Russians achieved their dream – they have a king who sits high, sees far, does everything for them and they are willing to be obedient flock, if not to say worse … It’s their choice, their right, but why they impose this behaviour to all others, to their neighbors? I do not agree to this. I do not know how it will affect the world around us, their neighbors. But in fact they have no more allies. I think when all this comes to an end, there will be a shift in human psychology, psychology of Ukrainians. I hope that finally the state will cease to fear the invasion of NATO, as some people were feared within the last 23 years. It turned out that for these 23 years we have been preparing to reflect NATO’s attack!I heard this from a respected commander of Transcarpathian brigade when I asked him what they did 23 years. It appeared they prepared to reflect NATO’s attack!