June 3, 2022


Original post: https://www.facebook.com/100002536714771/posts/5004871749607333/. Translated and edited by our team.

There are many guys from the west of Ukraine in my brigade who have never been to the east before the war. Moreover, some have never left their region. Some went to Europe but have not yet seen Kyiv with their own eyes, not even talking about Dnipro, Kharkiv, or the Donetsk region.

On the way east, it seemed like the reason our equipment was going so heavy and slow was that, in addition to the military trunks, these guys took too much baggage of stereotypes about Donbas. The technique barely withstood him, as I did.

“There are f*cking separatists. Don’t think of communicating with them. Our positions will be given out. They’ll give away the tips,” an example of a conversation that could be heard. They perceived the fact that I am from Kramatorsk as a miracle. They said that even an unloaded gun might shoot once.

We arrived in Donbas and dug in. As a local, I was sent to the nearest village for food together with two guys from the west of the country. The village was Ukraine-controlled and wasn’t occupied.

I am their stalker as I take them to the Zone. The guys go ahead as if they are on a special mission, with helmets, armor, horns in machine guns, BC on alert, and fingers on the weapon. They look intently and listen to the sounds.

You will look from the side – seals on the task, not otherwise.

In the village, we see grandmas on bicycles, grandpa trying to fix his Zhigul [old soviet car], and women planting flowers in front of the house. (Not potatoes, Carl, but flowers!)

Everyone greets us. Not because we are so beautiful, just in the village it is customary to greet. Moreover, a little more than a hundred left out of a couple of thousand inhabitants. If you saw someone, it’s already good.

The shops are closed, we knew that. But once a week, a car “from the big land,” as they say here, comes and sells food from the trunk. We are just moving towards it.

The food is brought by two locals, a father with a son. Their car is full of flour, sugar, pasta, and cereals. There are also cigarettes, tea, coffee, and chocolate. Prices could be multiplied by two, according to the celebrated laws of the libertarian market, but sellers do not. I think that after the war, this father, who brings food to all the surrounding villages in hot spots, can easily win the election for the head of the amalgamated territorial community as people are so grateful to him.

We approach the crowd around the car, and my comrades are shocked. Father and son communicate in Surzhik [a mix of Ukrainian and Russian languages], and all the elderly in Ukrainian. They all begin to speak at the same time:

“Guys, go without a queue. Ivanovna, move aside, close the car!”

“What is the situation? will they capture us or not?”

“Would you like a “sealing” (canned vegetables)? How far are the Russians?”

One grandmother, for some reason, begins to cry.

We buy quickly and modestly, only the necessary and some chocolate. We find out that nothing is working in the village. The light is constantly cut off due to the shelling. When a Russian missile hits someone’s house, usually at night, they don’t even put out the fire to avoid danger. The house burns down alone, and in the morning, they call the owners and tell them that they have nowhere to return.

We reassure them that we are nearby. We advise you to leave, but we understand that in vain, and we leave.

We are followed by a woman in her sixties. A woman who does not know whether the next pension will be brought to the village. And she gives us 500 hryvnias:

“Sons, thank you for your protection. Take, buy yourself chocolate or cigarettes, whatever you want.”

When we returned and told our story, no one believed us, no matter how hard we swore that it was indeed so.

Of course, we did not take the money.

We walked back in silence, though it rumbled loud, and the cozy picture of the world of my seals, in which “the Donbas separatists called for Russians, and now we try to fix it,” was getting destroyed. Their worldview had to be rebuilt now, so they kept silent and thought. I did not interfere. Another guy was appointed a stalker the following week, and the boys brought a new story about a grandfather in his seventies who begged them for a grenade. They say he can’t fight, but if the Russians come to the village, he will be able to blow up their soldiers with him. But I have not seen this grandfather with my own eyes, so I will not say it happened for sure. However, I think this story was also true.

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