In the final part of the interview the commander of the 503rd Marine Infantry Battalion Vadym Sukharevskyi told about the most prominent bogus news stories created by russian propaganda; outlined his vision of the ways to end the war and shared his personal aspirations.
– Vadym, as regards war, you said that it was obvious, especially at the beginning, what was black and what was white. Talking about this clarity, how do you perceive civilian life where there is no such clear distinction?
– I am absolutely fine with this. I do not share the bitterness our military or volunteers often experience toward the civilians, like “they are celebrating and drinking there, and we fighting here, how they can behave like that, this is wrong for the country at war!”. But in my opinion, it is just the other way round! If people allow themselves to relax there, it means we do our job in the forefront well.
– I agree. Still I mean something else, my question was about the ability to take the controversies of peaceful existence after experiencing life at war with all the determinacy and sharpness pertaining to it.
– When I am on leave, I never speak about war. I have a family and a child – why should they listen to my stories or get to know about the war?
Honestly, I disrespect people who boast of their “military achievements”. This is wrong.
– So you manage to switch?
– If I am on service, then I switch at the same moment when I leave my room. I must admit that swearing makes about 60% of my language at work. Still none of my family has any idea of this.
My wife once happened to overhear my style of communication on work matters when I was talking to her on the phone and then asked her to hold on for a minute to answer a concurrent phone call…
– Was she shocked to hear your language?
– Absolutely! She got short of words for a while. Just asked who it was. I had to admit it was me…
– How do you feel being there, at war, – is it just your job or anything more?
– I would say it is the work I love. Of course it means much more!
– Including those memories? Because of the anger you mentioned?
– I keep saying it again and again: I will never forgive my guys’ deaths. Never.
– Perhaps, it is an odd thing to ask whether you are going to continue your military service when the war is over…
– We will see… I am not Iron Man…
– Suppose you retired – what would you do?
– What would I go in? Farming.
– It is surprising.
– I am dreaming about my own house and a piece of land. I will definitely spend my payment of installation for some tractor.
– This is the most peaceful dream.
– You see, I am a native of Western Ukraine. Since childhood, I was helping my parents with their land. So it is quite natural I am dreaming of a tractor.
Most likely, my agenda for the future will include hunting and fishing. My wife is from Chernihiv. It is a wonderful picturesque region where the Desna river flows.
– And have you become attached to Mariupol over the time of service?
– Well, of course yes. Mariupol has become a part of my life. Still, the city lacks Ukraine. The inhabitants stubbornly refuse to speak Ukrainian here. And I would prefer my child to speak Ukrainian. Hence, I reckon this environment is not appropriate. I will find a nice Ukrainian school for my daughter, for her to never get interested in russian language.
That is why I would reject Mariupol as my home city. It still needs lots of time to change the situation to the better, when at least half of citizens speak Ukrainian.
On the other hand, when I give a lift to locals, many of them leave my car saying: “Glory to Ukraine!”.
– And overall, is it a possible task for us to reclaim people’s brains and hearts?
– I believe yes. We need to carry out tedious work, especially in mass media, and in the rest of fields, correspondingly. As the informational war is on. It has not been finished yet. And both the year 2014 and all these result from it. And those people there are fatalities of the informational war.
– We have already touched upon the subject of fake news the victims of russian propaganda believe in. What are the most unbelievable stories and gossips about the Ukrainian military you ever heard?
– In my unit, for instance, we once baked foil-wrapped beetroots. This video got over a few million views on YouTube. In the comments section, people seriously discussed whether we were eating a separ’s hear. This video can still be found on the internet.
– Are you kidding me, were there really those who believed in this?
– Well, there turned out to be lots of believers! Just type in the search line “Punishers eating a separ’s heart” and watch. You will see us laying the foil “table” and serving beetroot, and they call it “a separ’s heart”… There was a lot of noise. Even Kiseliov (russian TV host famous for his propagandist programs) demonstrated this video to his audience.
So “a separ’s heart” is classics. As I said, it had millions of views.
– And what about the things you heard with your own ears? Or people were afraid to tell you anything face to face?
– Well, a funny thing happened in Heorhiivka again, in a couple of hours after the battle. We had just took over their checkpoint. Got a foothold there and raised a Ukrainian flag. Then a mother with her daughter appeared there. The girl looked about 14-15 years old. They were crossing the bridge stepping forward cautiously. I decided to encourage them a bit, smiled to them and said: “Go ahead, we are not going to eat you!”. And the woman replied suspiciously: “Are you sure?”…
So I told one of my soldiers to get them some cold rations, dot them to understand that we were not hungry.
– Then there was a story about Romanians near Sloviansk. We happened to catch a separ. I can hardly recollect the conversation in detail, but in the course of getting him into the vehicle he said: “You are mercenaries there, no more than just mercenaries!”. I asked him where he thought we were from. – “You are from Romania!“
– Why from Romania?
– I wondered why he choose Romania, too. Asked him: ”Aren’t you confused that I am speaking to you in Russian?” – “You’ve been taught the language well!” Then I turned around and said to one of my fighters: “Sania, get the guys from the Right Sector in here”. – “Please nooooo!!!”
– So they were afraid of the Right Sector most?
– In 2014, the Right Sector was a real fab! We used to drag the information out of the stubbornest captives by just one sentence: “Get the Right Sector in here!”. The most common instant response was like that: “Please don’t, I will tell you everything!”.
Still, there were different situations.
– You fought in both Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Can you compare their inhabitants? Do they differ? How? In your opinion, are there any special features distinguishing them?
– Residents of Luhansk region seem more loyal than those of Donetsk one. Donetsk region locals, especially in the North, are totally stoned. They are bullheaded and never ready to accept a differing opinion.
– How did this come, what do you think? It can hardly be about joint boundary with Russia, as there is one in Luhansk region as well…
– Most likely, it is due to historical factors. These territories had been artificially inhabited with residents relocated from russia, for them to develop post-war industry. Plus, lots of prisons and the rest of the stuff… I believe this had impacted the situation quite a lot.
– How do you see the most probable scenario of ending the war?
– Personally, I like the idea of deployment of peacekeeping troops.
– But this does not imply the end.
– There will never be any end a priori. As long as the Russian Federation is interested in Ukraine, no ending is possible in principle.
– So there is no way out?
– There are a few variants. Our task is to minimize. The fact we demonstrated we have balls; the shift from political prostitution to certain vector of action we have done over the 20 years of independence – this is an achievement.
As a citizen, I was getting continuously annoyed when we hesitated like a hooker, between Europe and Russia, back and forth. Unable to determine our way.
– Well, now seems we have no way back.
– I hope so. And to me, this is our major victory. And the question of reclaiming our territories back is more the matter of principle.
– Have you defined the point that would mean victory for you? The moment when you will realize that we have won this war?
– Of course I have dreams. There are lots of such points.
Undoubtedly, the war will be finished at the border. This is minimum.
As for me, my last name is Sukharevskyi. I have a younger sister, Ksenia. And there is a square and a metro station in Moscow named after Ksenia Sukharevska. So I would like the war to be finished there.
– A nice dream. Unfortunately, it is still quite unrealistic.
– If to consider use of force, this would be the repossession of our former boundaries, of course.
– Well, it will be rather difficult as regards Crimea.
– Yes. Still since I realize that Crimea’s population has been lost as Ukrainians, personally I do not care about them at all.
In general, this means the advance to the borders. For 24 years of independence all negotiations as regards demarcation of the boundary were interrupted by the russian party. So the demarcation was never applied.
And I want to be in service until this happens. For me, the war will be finished when the demarcation of the border is done. And at least a couple of machine guns or missile launchers have been pointed toward that side, toward the north. And they have been mounted on top of some huge wall, like the Israeli one.
– So we need the wall?
– At the very least, an anti-tank trench.
– Did you ever think about the time we need to restore at least neutral relations with Russia? Or, perhaps, they worsened not for everybody, despite the war has been raging for four years?
– We are quite aware that for many, Poroshenko and anyone else but not Putin and Russians are guilty of this war. I cannot name this segment of population other than idiots or imbeciles.
You can convey it directly, it is mental retardation of the highest level.
– And for those adequate ones? How many generations this may take?
– I would put it in the following way: I wish there were no relations with Russia at all, never again. I wish the very concept of Russia vanished, both from the world map and from people’s minds.
I would like the Chinese advanced to Ural, and the territory from Ural to Ukraine considered as certain “green cape”, like it once occured in history. Like Kuban.
Believe me, everybody would benefit from this.
Text: Lilia Rahutska, “Obozrevatel”
Let us remind you that within the Mariupol Defenders project we are raising funds to support the unit of Marines led by Vadym Sukharevskyi. At present, the Marines ask to equip their PC-1 copter with an additional option provided for by the UAV’s design, a thermal imaging camera. Its technical characteristics allow filming 24 hours a day irrespectively of darkness, as the gear reads thermal radiation of separate bodies and environment.
Cost of the camera makes over 180 thousand UAH. Part of this sum, namely 63 thousand hryvnias, we managed to collect during just two days! Dear friends, this is inspiring; hopefully, the Marines will get this wonderful upgrade for their camera shortly. Just think how beneficial this gear could be when installed on the copter: its deployment means saving many people’s lives and providing operational and tactical lead for the unit that has been holding defense in one of the most important sectors!