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Testimony from two years of fighting: “It will be a long war, but we will fight to the death”

Testimony from two years of fighting: “It will be a long war, but we will fight to the death”

“I was afraid that Odessa would be occupied immediately,” he admits. Volodymyr Omelchenko, a 36-year-old Ukrainian soldier, remembers the days before Russia’s full-scale invasion. The soldier assumed that the Russians would gain complete air superiority as their fleet threatened to overwhelm Ukraine’s limited sea defenses. “Who would have thought that their ships would become ‘submarines’ so quickly in these two years?” he asks rhetorically.

Despite the doubts, Omelchenko, a scriptwriter in his civilian life with a year of combat experience in Donbass, prepared with his companions for a possible guerrilla fight. The doubts did not stop him from meeting with the 28th brigade of the Ukrainian army when the Russian columns crossed his country’s borders.

While his brigade defended Mykolaiv, an important port city on the road to Odessa. Working on an old Soviet-era Grad multiple rocket launcher system, Omelchenko attacked Russian infantry, artillery and weapons. Using various types of artillery, the brigade dismantled and repelled huge Russian columns.

“Russia had a big advantage back then. There were times when they could use six to eight different types of weapons to hunt my lone grade,” recalls Omelchenko. The arrival of the HIMARS precision multiple rocket launchers in the summer of 2022 helped “shoot down” Russian artillery. It is still very dangerous, but now they are afraid of being hit by their enemies. After helping to liberate Kherson in the fall of 2022, the brigade was deployed to the defense of Bakhmut and has remained in the area since then.

Omelchenko is stoic about the Ukrainian army’s latest setback in Avdivka. The withdrawal is not a catastrophe, but a tactically correct decision, he explains. “Adviivka is a district of the huge city of Donetsk where all Russian logistics are present, while our people had to deliver everything through some country roads,” he explains. His colleagues You’ve never seen so many dead Russians during the war years.

In general, after initial successes in Ukraine, the Russians had only won local victories, while Ukraine had won major victories such as in Kharkiv and Kherson. “We didn’t give up at the beginning and will resist. “This is a long war in which both sides are prepared to fight to the death,” he says confidently. However, the motivation of each side is completely different. “We have no other choice because we are fighting for our lives,” he emphasizes.

Instead, he has long since lost all hope of understanding the logic of the Russians, who “for some reason have decided that this war is also about their survival.” Any “normal society” would stop its aggression as soon as it suffered such large losses suffered in Ukraine, and Ukraine’s allies also wrongly expected this, says Omelchenko.

However, most Russians do not even want to surrender when they are about to be captured They prefer to commit suicide with a grenadesaid the soldier. “There is something deeper here than the regime’s propaganda.” Propaganda can lead people to kill others. “Can this lead to them committing suicide on such a scale?” he asks rhetorically. This makes Omelchenko believe that the only thing that can stop Russia is a decisive defeat and that any other measures are just a waste of effort and time. This defeat foresees the return of the Ukrainian army to the internationally recognized borders and goes beyond them.

The situation is difficult because the Russians have built up a fairly effective military force and a formidable defense, which stopped the Ukrainian counteroffensive last year, but things could quickly get worse again for the Russians, he believes.

The challenge for Ukraine right now is figuring out how to behave in a situation where drones see everything on and behind the battlefield. “Success in war depends on surprise and deception. “That can hardly be achieved if they and we scan every centimeter of the front,” explains Omelchenko.

However, drones cannot replace traditional heavy weapons as Ukraine relies on international aid. Although no one was prepared for an all-out war, Omelchenko believes European leaders are waking up to the urgency of combating Russian aggression. “Your help prevents the Russians from committing mass genocide in Ukraine,” he says.

Omelchenko does not understand why Germany, for example, refuses to supply long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine. However, he believes that Europe is the “most ethical” among the allies. “You don’t give us false hope. You consistently move forward step by step. “When they promise something, they keep it.” The will to keep fighting is not just a question of spirit or calling, he adds. “It helps us to know that our families are relatively safe and comfortable, that they have water, electricity and fuel and that the state and the laws continue to function.” “We owe a lot to Europe and our allies because our economy alone could hardly survive.”

Although Russia’s population is 3.5 times larger, it is a mistake to think that war is like a computer game in which “whoever has 100 soldiers and the opponent has 80 wins,” warns Omelchenko. He believes that Ukraine is not a small country either and with its 40 million inhabitants it can stand up to anyone. In reality, war is mostly about systems, logistics and resources. Omelchenko believes rapid weapons development is underway and recalls how engineers completed the Neptune missiles off the coast of Odessa before using them to deter the Russian fleet and sink the cruiser Moskva. “I don’t know what everything will be like in the future, but I see a great will to continue fighting.”.

He is married and has three children, that is You are not obliged to remain in the army, according to Ukrainian law. Resigning before Ukrainian victory is assured is not in his plans. “It seems to me that if they bury me at 80, they will put a little ‘degree’ in my coffin,” smiles Omelchenko.

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