No one among 128 Brigade’s officers was actually happy to see more troops from 40 Battalion, and they could not say where our comrades were hiding.
Our GAZ truck, manufactured in Moscow, had no windows, so the biting-cold wind blew in our faces. But we drove calmly – Kalashnikovs, machine-guns and grenade launchers at the ready.
In this way I realized for the first time in my life that war consists not only of heroism, but also shameful cases of fear, panic and betrayal.
And none of us followed the enemy ultimatum to lay down our arms. In addition, one of our officers sent this Russian on his way with a clear, unmistakable message in the Russian criminal jargon.
Our POWs – being under severe duress with threats against their lives – were obliged to say on TV what their Russian captors demanded: false and critical statements regarding 40 Battalion and Ukraine’s military as a whole.
Our chapel was completely destroyed by Russian-backed separatist artillery on the night of 13 February 2015, together with the big wooden cross and all the religious stuff.
It was no longer possible to trust Putin’s Russia: this political regime will attack independent Ukraine again and again. In February I clearly understood that every Ukrainian soldier in Debaltseve should be ready for the worst, including a forced retreat.
A rifle shot rang out, followed by a burst of machine-gun fire, and the two groups joined battle. Major Vakulenko was struck by a grenade, killing him instantly.
When the last page came out of the printer and I gave it to colonel, we heard the loud sounds of several powerful explosions to the right behind the wall.
The shell fragment was small, but razor-sharp, and it had flown with deadly speed.