Eyewitness Accounts, Interviews & Opinions

Ivano-Frankovsk Soldiers Tell the Truth: “We are not encircling the separatists; they are encircling us!”

Video: Soldiers from Ivano-Frankovsk Tell the Truth / Multi-Language Subtitles

Important Note: To activate subtitles, click on the (cc) button in the dashboard at the bottom of the video, then, in the Captions menu, select English, German, French, or Spanish.

Translated from Ukrainian by Valentina Lisitsa (@ValLisitsa)
Editing by Gleb Bazov


First Ukrainian Soldier: The situation is such that the battalion is in a difficult situation, both in terms of resources and its territorial position. What they show in the news – that we are encircling the separatists – is, where out battalion is [stationed], exactly the opposite. The guys are at the end of their rope. It’s trouble there. It’s a disaster.

On one side, there are the forces of the Russian Federation standing there, practically 4 kilometres from us. And there is such military equipment there, believe me, that nothing would help us. It’s no longer about flack jackets and military equipment. Do you understand? It’s a completely different [situation]. We just have to get our guys out of there.

Unequivocally, the battalion can’t remain there. Well, the guys stationed there, they are like condemned men facing execution. I say this responsibly – I was stationed there and I came from there. And even then, we have to take them out, carefully. We have to take them out, carefully.  And, honestly, I don’t know how this [rescue] is to be done but it must be done. It must be done and it must be done immediately.

Let me repeat, the situation as of today’s morning, I called there and I called yet again: not a single unit of military equipment has arrived, they [the soldiers] are standing in an open field.

[voices of women in the background] We know, we know.

An open field. Buses – you understand the condition of those buses that were already burned down; they were trying to escape under enemy fire.  Comrade major, who perished, he was my friend [crying], I would ask for a minute of silence to honor him

[women sobbing in the background]

Second Ukrainian Soldier: 
I would like to add that this battalion was sent to do a so-called “combat mission;” this was a criminal order from the superiors.

[in the background, women asking] “Which superiors, which region?”

Yes, a regional commander, but all are guilty, we are not going to name them now.

[woman in the background] It’s clear who [it is], it’s Yarko [Note: unclear – either Yarko or Toyarko] who is on top, and he is the only one who can give such an order

Because the battalion we talk about, as a matter of fact, they can perform combat mission only as formulated in the beginning – i.e. guard duty of [important strategic] objects in the region, let’s say, guarding certain checkpoints, but ony further away from the epicenter of hostilities.

However in the midst of combat action it can’t fulfill any mission because of the lack of needed equipment. Even if such equipment were to be provided to the battalion, there is nobody trained to use [it].

[woman in the background] Did you speak to the guys? About retreating, together with you?

Yes, a large number of them agreed to this but they are literally frightened – certain officers were holding them there by any means, [by hook or by crook]. Many wanted to depart with us, and we were planning to take an entire company with us. This would have been very difficult as we didn’t [transportation], and we planned to take a large truck. But at the very last moment they were held back.

I want to add that starting with this criminal order pursuant to which the guys were sent there, and we ourselves went as commanders, we refused to obey further criminal orders because by doing so we would endanger people and we didn’t want to

First Ukrainian Soldier: Yes, we don’t want to be the ones responsible for [the lives of] our guys, do you understand?

Second Ukrainian Soldier: We wanted to preserve their lives and the criminal order is not …

[woman in the background] Yes, yes, guys … but how to get them out of there?

Second Ukrainian Soldier: This is precisely why we came here, to figure out a way to get them out of there. I will finally …

Another Speaker: Understand that I am disclosing all of this so that everyone can realize …

[people talking over each other, also addressing the people coming up]

here comes people’s deputy Derevyanko, we must finally do something. Here, please come up here.

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