The diary of a survivor in Kyiv. Saturday. March 19. “A night at the frontlines near Irpin”.

Russian army in Ukraine. Photos by Ukrainian soldiers. Courtesy of Anatolii Shara

“Get in the fucking car, amigo!”, – a red-bearded guy in modern tactical sunglasses, military helmet, and assault vest said impatiently, sticking his head out of the camouflaged Mitsubishi L-200 with a cigar in the mouth. “We cannot let you waste our time; get in your ass here ASAP!!!”, – he continued, leaving behind the huge plumes of smoke. I jumped into the car. I could hear the subdued sound of the song of a popular Ukrainian metal group inside. There was a group of the Special Forces guys inside and one with a heavy machine gun in the back of the car.

I used to work as a military correspondent for a Ukrainian magazine in 2014-2016, so I have a lot of contacts with different Ukrainian soldiers, especially among the Special Forces and paratroopers. I asked one of my good friends to take me on the frontlines of this war and to see with my own eyes what was going on there. “Phantom” is the nom de guerre of the scout’s group commander. He is an old friend of mine and an experienced soldier who told me that they would take me to the surroundings of Irpin. His group had to cover the soldiers from the territorial defence units who would prepare the trenches and spots for the regular army in the night. It’s just 1.2 km from the Russians. So he sent his guys to take me from the centre of Kyiv. We drove through the deserted and dark streets of the capital. I have never seen Kyiv like this. There were always crowds of people around the numerous cafes and restaurants, but now no one could be seen like in horror films.

Russian army in Ukraine. Photos by Ukrainian soldiers. Courtesy of Anatolii Shara

Phantom and the rest of his group waited for us at the checkpoint, controlled by the National Guard of Ukraine. There were six cars, 3 Mitsubishi L-200 with the scouts, and three vans with the guys from territorial defence units. I took a seat in Phantom’s car. He talked with someone at the checkpoint at the field road near Irpin. It was complete darkness. You could not see anything. Suddenly, Phantom turned away and showed with a hand to go in the direction of Irpin. Everybody jumped into their cars. A convoy started to move slowly without the headlights. Nobody wanted to be spotted by the Russians. Luckily, in a few minutes, the moonlight helped to drive correctly.

Finally, we arrived at our destination. The military excavators made many pits in human growth close to each other over oval-shaped trajectories. The guys from the territorial defence units should turn these pits into unassailable fortification lines. The first and foremost thing they had to do was fill the plastic bags with soil, create the real trenches and connect them into a single line. The guys were taking out all the needed equipment from the vans, and their commander came up to us.

Russian army in Ukraine. Photos by Ukrainian soldiers. Courtesy of Anatolii Shara

“The Russians tried to push forward there with a lot of tanks and APVs. Elite Russian military units. But no surveillance ahead, no tactics at all. They moved like on parade on the Red Square in Moscow on May 9,” said Phantom to me and the territorial defence unit commander, showing to a plantation forest approximately 200 meters from us. “We easily spotted them. I passed the coordinates of the Orcs’ convoy to the commander. In 10 minutes, two combat helicopters attacked the Orcs with unguided air-to-surface rockets. Then our artillery ploughed the land. Shit, man. The convoy was turned just into ashes. You can go and see what happened to the “elite Russian paratroopers”. Nobody survived there. We found marks of the Russian VDV on some airborne infantry fighting vehicles. These light vehicles are just scraps of metal now.”

The group of Phantom’s scouts advanced forward to the positions with the thermal imagers and night vision goggles. He himself decided to accompany me to the place where the convoy of the Russian orcs was destroyed. At the approach, I could smell the sharp burning and the smell of the burnt bodies. Fucking shit. It’s a disgusting smell. The convoy of the Russian orcs was attacked just on the field road when they went out of the plantation forest. It was a cemetery of tanks and people. I counted no less than ten tanks burnt-out turrets and dozens of the hulls of APVs and AFVs (airborne infantry fighting vehicles). The road was covered in huge oil spots, some iron details, pipes, soot, tatters of cloth resembling a military uniform.

Russian army in Ukraine. Photos by Ukrainian soldiers. Courtesy of Anatolii Shara

“Where are the corpses? How many of them died here?” – I asked Phantom. “We counted 70 with something. A lot of almost totally burnt-down corpses were found in the tanks, fragments of the bodies… I don’t know the exact numbers and frankly speaking, I don’t care about them… The bodies were taken by the guys from the National Guard into refrigerators. The Russian commanders refuse to take their corpses. Nobody’s interested about them!” – he answered irritably.

“You know. These were not soldiers; they were fucking ordinary marauders. They have found here what they searched for: dishonour and oblivion. We have found in some more or less survived APVs the Ukrainian goods: women’s dresses, women’s shoes, beer glasses, makeup bags, TVs, sockets, candies, cakes, rolls of toilet papers, sausages…Even money in cash and copecks. I don’t understand why these pigs took Ukrainian money? Why do you need copecks, fucking idiots? They lived like pigs and died like pigs. These so-called “elite paratroopers” robbed Ukrainian houses. That’s their true essence. They are barbarians. No pity for them.” – continued Phantom. He kicked angrily with his foot a small iron detail from the tank.

All the night, we could hear the reciprocal artillery shelling. We could see the huge plumes of fire and smoke and chaotic explosions like fireworks from the Russian side. There was a panic. The scouts closely followed the developments there.

In the early morning, everything was ready. All the trenches were completed. Phantom spoke over the radio. The first trucks with the Armed Forces of Ukraine arrived at the positions. These guys have just come from the training centre. All of them have experience at the Donbas frontlines. Ready to fight with the Orcs. Very motivated. Almost everyone worked in Europe. When Putin sent his Orcs to Ukraine, they decided to come back and defend their country.

I was coming back to deserted Kyiv with the scouts. Phantom stayed at the positions to explain the operational situation to the newly arrived Ukrainian soldiers. Sleepy soldiers with drinking tea waved their hands at the checkpoint. I switched on my cell phone again. I read this night was hard: Kyiv and other cities were shelled with rockets, and the Orcs tried to advance in all possible directions, but the Ukrainian soldiers stopped them.

I remember all the conversations in the night at the frontlines. All soldiers of all ages gender are united by one goal: to kill the Russian Orcs for everything they have done here. We would never forgive them the deaths of our children, women, older people, and soldiers.

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