“I saw the Russians with my own eyes”

The bursts of a heavy machine gun bring smiles to the men gathered in the small courtyard of the abandoned house. “They are ours” Enjoy one of them. Soldiers of the unit are used to living in the noise of war. A dog howls on the ground. Three dull bangs, signaling cannon departures, shook the air.

The chairman of the group, Alexey Yakovlev, a veteran of the Donbass between 2014 and 2015, jumped from his chair, raised his hand, and raised his gaze sharply. A first blast rang out, followed by a second. “It’s okay, we don’t have it”, He assures. A third explodes seconds later.

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“After three days, we did not react to the blasts. Artem Kratoon, a soldier in the unit, explains. It is very dangerous. » A lawyer from northeastern Ukraine who has lived on the outskirts of Kew for years, he took up arms to defend the capital at the start of the Russian invasion in February. In April, he volunteered to fight in the southern part of Mykolaiv. The dry-faced soldier joined the ranks of approximately 206 Home Defense Battalion. “500 to 600 soldiers”. Since then, he has lived between the base, located on the edge of the Kherson region, partially occupied by Russian forces. The city of Mykolayiv.

Ukrainian fighters from the 59th Motorized Brigade southeast of Mykolaiv, Ukraine on September 29, 2022.

Sunday, October 2, a month after the start Counter-offensive in the Kherson region, Ukrainian officials announced that their armed forces had made a breakthrough in Russian defense lines across the Dnieper River a hundred kilometers to the east. For their part, the men of the unit await Kyiv’s next orders. Their task was to hold the position and protect the Russian soldiers from this part of the front. “like bait” Accurate, clear, Artem Gradun. Exchanges of fire are routine. But with time, the distance between the two enemy armies decreased. To the extent of changing the type of weapons. “Today we fire with heavy machine guns, before we only used artillery” Alexey Yakovlev explains.

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Slow progress

“After this village, we will go to the next village, then to another, and finally, we will return to Kherson”, Artem Kratoon likes to believe that, like the rest of the faction’s soldiers, he is optimistic at this stage of the war. Progress is slowed by the presence of civilians in villages held by occupation forces. “According to our information, the Russians did not allow them to leave the territories”, says the soldier.

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