Without any exaggeration last summer was the most dramatic time in the history of Ukrainian Airborne Troops. Paratroopers from Dnepropetrovsk died tragically in the shot down plane, the legendary 95th brigade of Zhitomir was having losses in killed and wounded, the brigade from Nikolayev was entrapped at the border with Russia. During the following year these soldiers, like the metal ones, recovered from that hard battles and were sent back again for the most difficult tasks in all directions. – As a result the airborne half in jest, half seriously altered their famous motto "No one except us" to "Again us, what a hell?!"
This summer all airborne brigades are still at the front line, but taking into account that fact that fights are not so harsh and intensive comparing to the last year, paratroopers will have some rest: some of them will be visited by the President, who is going to award them, others will play football with special forces troops.
Well-known Ukrainian web-media Censor.NET has met the paratrooper who can't go to the Ukrainian east any more, a lieutenant colonel Semen Koleynik, who became famous after the last summer events on the Ukrainian-Russian border.
One and a half months this man has been holding the height near the border under fire from multiple launch rocket systems "Grad", which were used by Russian army against the Ukrainians for the first time then. Later on the height was called in his honor according to his call sign "Bravo".
The contusion consequences could lead to the early retirement of the assistant battalion commander of 79th Brigade, but the 32-year-old officer has spent 15 years of his life in the army and that is why he was not going to leave it even after those terrible experiences. Now Koleynik-Bravo studies at the National University of Defense Ministry, restores health and plans to return to the army, perhaps not at the front line but still.
I do not like when talking about this event somebody mentions only me. There I was not alone. But at that time it was me who took the post of assistant battalion commander (the wounded battalion commander was in Nikolayev. - Censor.NET). Every soldier, every sergeant, every officer, it doesn't matter whether he was a chef, a company commander or a commander of the gun, made the important work. It's a shame that nobody knows all those names. Write, please, that all of them did well.
For all of us that work in the sector D was the first real war experience. Before that, for a short time we were on the Transnistrian border, and then fought by Amvrosievka, Kurakhino, Marinka and Volnovakha. At that height near Izvarino we had to learn literary on the run, sometimes directly in the battle. There was neither time nor opportunity for training.
We were not surprised by the shelling from the Russian side. We were only 800 meters away from the border and saw how Russian troops were digging in, the tank columns were moving and the drones were flying. Everybody knew that sooner or later they began to shoot. We were trying to get this fact morally and building the shelters. But of course, until recently we were hoping that they wouldn't burn us out like that...
My brother is a citizen of Russia, but he is also an ukrop. (In Ukrainian language the word "ukrop" is pronounced in the same way as the name of the dill. Recently the new meaning of the word "ukrop" means the word used by Russians and militia to distinguish Ukrainians). Recently I have even sent him a jacket with this plant. He wore it in Siberia and admitted: "It's a shame, but for many people here it's just an ordinary plant!"
At first he did not believe that I would be able to shoot any Russian soldier and vice versa. I explained that I didn't pay attention to the nationality of the person who had come with guns to destroy the territorial integrity of my country. When I was under the "Grad" shooting sent by the Russian Federation, all questions and doubts disappeared.
A year later I still believe that the goal to block the border was right. And we did it. No single convoy passed either from us or to us. Therefore, the commanders' idea that is nowadays criticized and commented by everyone was good. It was the Russian intervention that prevented to complete it. The Russian intervention also led to the entrapment, where we subsequently found ourselves.
It would be fair to say that airborne troops were really fighting at all sectors of the frontline, including the most difficult ones. It's true. But we always worked in cooperation. - With the infantry, with special forces, border guards, with the National Guard. We never hesitated to ask anyone for help and no one hesitated to ask us.
There were some moments during ATO, when paratroopers were used not for their real purposes but more like a well-trained infantry. For example, we were sent to defend the territory, although it is not our responsibility. However, I think that we couldn't and can't refuse by saying "I'll do only this order, but I don't want to do that one". At that time at least.
I really appreciate the volunteer troops in the Ministry of Defense, because even if we gather the most creative team in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it will include people from the same system. Thus the volunteers are big fellows indeed. Of course, not everything is running perfectly, but they have never complained, and no one has given it up. Although I am sure that everybody has had this desire once. If they all achieve their aims, the army as well as the whole country will benefit because of this fact.
I see modern Ukrainian army consisting of highly motivated soldiers who have normal provision, social package, state support and respect of the society. I am sure that it is unnecessary to take somebody to the armed forces against his or her will; there are a lot of those, who really want to serve and to defend.
Besides it the army should have new means of communication, navigation and equipment.
It is unnecessary to be on the front line all the time for all stuff. Who will do planning and logistics then? But those, who do not want to fight, are useless in the home front as well, they are a great burden. We don't need them.
For us it will be rather useful to sit down and sort out all the troubles appeared during the war. We should take into account all the experience gained in Donbas. By the way it was done by the Russians after the first and second Chechen campaigns. They changed the Field Manual and took into account all the experience gained in the Caucasus. But I think it can be done only after the war, not during it.
I am sure that it should be done, perhaps not immediately, but we are able to do it. Of course, people are a tired a bit, as well as the guys on the front line. But it is not critical and not fatal. They are in a good mood and it means that everything will be fine.
It is often said that in the moments of truce all soldiers have a bad mood. They lose motivation and have enough time for doubts. So I would say that at the war time I mean during the active war phase, everything is even worse. Why? You see when everything around is burning, the mood is really terrible. So the truce is OK for us.
I do not believe in all these post-traumatic syndromes. If a person finds comfort drinking alcohol or, for example, in self-pity, it is not a syndrome, it is a personal choice. And there should not be any excuses. Yes, I have a little gray in my hair, hear badly, see not so well and of course, I can't forget all those days. But in general everything is really fine.
I should have died then, a year ago, but I'm alive. Therefore, since then I take my life as a bonus or as a special gift. And I live on this basis. Therefore, I do not like all this whining "I am totally forgotten" etc. I find this position like excessive demands or an exaggerated self-pity. We are alive and we will win. And that is it I think!