The fiercest combat operations took place from early to mid-August 2014, when it seemed that the Nazis are just about to encircle Donetsk and cut us off from the border. Combat and air-raid alarms sounded very often; artillery barrage almost never got quiet and was heard everywhere. From time to time, together with air-raid alarms, jets of Ukrainian punitive forces rushed past over our heads, heading east to bomb Saur-Mogila, Shakhtersk, Torez, Snezhnoe.
A very important stage was the beginning of the outreach campaign together with the commander of the training company, Chika. Outreach brigade was formed and the guys regularly went to meetings with workers of plants and mines. They always came back very inspired, talked about how the communication with people went. That was a real-life work with population. The stories about the problems that came up during that work and how they were resolved were very exciting.
Once I was asked to step in for one of the comrades. I agreed with pleasure and some anxiety. We spoke to a work staff of a large plant of Makeevka. Everything was organized in a large Palace of Culture, which was unexpected for me. People began to gather at the appointed time, many of them were dressed as for a formal event. The guys, Chica, and I made speeches. Some people, expressing resentment that the war had ruined their lives, left the auditorium. But many people actively supported the militia. They even made suggestions on how to be better build a new life, expressed their desire to help. Chief engineer made a speech, he asked qualified personnel not to leave the plant to maintain its viability, because the new state would need to keep it in working condition.
After the meeting people approached, asked questions, tried to receive answers to all of their questions, but since there was already little time left, we didn’t manage to talk thoroughly with everyone.
We were very impressed; we went back to the base, discussed and shared our feelings. Having stopped near the market, we went to buy watermelons, and the seller not only sold us two watermelons for the price of one, but he also gave us a melon as a gift. At the same time he wished us good luck, health and a quick victory. Happily we returned to the bus with watermelons and the melon. When we got on the bus, saleswomen from a nearby store asked whether we wanted some water. We agreed and they went to the shop and brought a box of mineral water, carrying it together. When we tried to pay or decline, they firmly said that it was for defenders, that we should share it with our comrades. And when we were leaving, they make the sign of the cross over us. We were impressed very much!
Later on, when our guys settled down in Panteleimonovka and we went there to general meetings, I sat next to an on-duty militiaman after one meeting. Somehow between conversations he suddenly said, “I know you – you spoke in Makeevka to the workers. So, after your speech I decided to join this very unit, I found it on purpose, and now I’m here.” It was so unexpected and exciting! It made me think. I didn’t think my words could encourage a person to vigorous action.
In mid-August our whole group moved to new barracks. We received combat weapons. More systematic training on tactics and shooting began. Exercises, , including theory, took place every day, in the morning and evening. Life became more organized, discipline improved, and as a whole our group became finally more like a unit. The guys mostly got used to each other, accommodated, the leaders appeared from among us. And also it became more or less clear who we were, where and what we had to do.
By August 2014 the work of the information center (IC) began to take shape on a systematic basis. The significant for that time directions and aims were defined. People responsible for different areas of work appeared, the work went more organized. At that time the main areas were gathering of information about events in the war zone from open sources, preparing of operational maps based on available data, shooting videos of the events. A group of comrades almost daily engaged in this kind of work formed in IC. Others were recruited in shifts, as there was an idea to give some understanding of the activities of IC to everyone.
Around the same time we have realized the fact: in order for our unit to join the “Vostok” battalion on reasonable grounds, it is necessary to create a combat group, which would perform the tasks in the course of combat operations of “Vostok”. That is, there was a situation when it should have been determined who would serve in the combat group and who would specialize in information tasks.
The guys engaged in the first combat tasks in late August – early September. At that time fighting around the whole perimeter of the contact zone intensified very much. The main directions for the “Vostok” battalion were Yasinovataya and Gorlovka. Our guys participated in liberation of Yasinovataya and Mineralnoe. After that the whole combat group moved to the base in Yasinovataya, closer to the combat zone, for active duty. Here the guys from the combat group began a new life with guard details, battle formations, shooting and military service.
The information center remained at the base in Donetsk. The manpower reduced as most of the guys left to the combat group. The work in IC began to require more time and effort. Combat and air-raid alarms still occurred at the base from time to time.
In mid-September 2014 the operation of liberating Panteleimonovka township started. In coordination with the units of the militia of Gorlovka, “Vostok” battalion struck in the direction of Vasilievka, Lebyazhie, and Panteleimonovka. Our combat group also took part in the operation; it was assigned to tanks as tank-borne infantry and attacked Vasilevka from Yasinovataya. I remember that we really worried about our guys from the combat group – those who were given the honor to participate in that operation. It was the first really large offensive of the “Vostok” battalion, in which our guys participated as a combat unit, almost all of them. I remember that we waited for news with anxiety, worried, and were very glad when the operation ended successfully, with few casualties in the militia, and our guys were all safe.
Our comrade Bolgarin, God rest his soul, who at that time was attached from Information center to the combat group for photo and video recording of its life, was a member of the assaulting group. He was also with his camera during the attack. He was riding on the armor of the tank together with his comrades from the unit. He brought videos. I remember how we rushed at him, demanding to tell us what had happened, how he, showing the video, commented on it, shared his feelings and impressions.
By early October the situation on the fronts began to stabilize. At that time our guys guarded tanks, also in Panteleimonovka. Thus, our original little group of the “Essence of Time” mission by early November was in fact spread between the bases in Donetsk, Yasynovataya and Panteleimonovka.
I remember how during the meeting in Yasinovataya we offered our help, to stand on guard. Standing my shift that night (it was already cold) I personally felt how hard it was for guys. For me it was a valuable experience.
Other stories of “Essence of Time” unit soldiers: “Essence of Time” unit in Donbass
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