Essence of Time unit in Donbass. The Becoming. Matros


The first month of life on Vostok base in the militia was full of events. We were gradually becoming real militiamen, forgetting about our past lives. We learned the rules of the life on the base, local regulations and fully adapted to the everyday routine. We received our first assault rifles — AKMs (of course, after we passed the exams on firearms safety rules), learned the skills of using them, including practical ones. A month later we moved from a car repair bay, which was our temporary home, to new barracks — nearby school was used for this purpose. It was shut down several years before, which is why we didn’t disrupt the education of children. Our commander and the head of Essence of Time mission Volga moved in with us, which we were happy about. Step by step he made us into a cohesive team of like-minded comrades through exhausting training and intellectual discussions. By the end of August a combat group and informational resistance group were clearly formed. I joined the first one. To be honest, it was not an easy decision, it was a very important step both for me and my family, but it was necessary.

The task of my first combat ride was to find a Ukrainian sabotage-recon group. We were supposed to cover the main group, adrenaline was rushing, and the nervousness was hard to handle. Then we got used to it. You have to know how to control your emotions, think and make decisions quickly during combat tasks, because a mistake can cost a lot.

The first large combat operation in which Essence of Time Independent Tactical Group participated was liberation of Yasinovataya and nearby villages from junta’s forces. As a part of Vostok brigade our group liberated the XVIII Party Conference village, it borders Yasinovataya and is near a big railroad junction, through which over half of all freight cargoes of Ukraine passed during the peaceful times. We had dug in on this railroad junction without any significant resistance of Ukrainian Armed Forces. Our task was to prevent breakthrough of military hardware and infantry from the side of Avdeevka city and control the main road directions from the side of the village. The task was successfully accomplished. Since the situation was tense and uncertain during the first days, we had to sleep in full combat equipment (in combat vests and with assault rifles). After the first such night I learned to comfortably put the flask  with water under my lower spine, while putting the stock of my AK-74 under my head.

We have dug in solidly in the village, since the forward positions of Ukrainian Armed Forces was no more than 1 km away. Next together with other squads of the brigade we liberated the nearby villages Mineralnoye and Yakovlevka from Kiev’s punitive forces.

Soon we were housed on the new base near Yasinovataya. This is where we organized the learning process, a shooting range (including for team-based weapons). The unit grew both in quantity and in quality.

I remember one time, when a freight car caught fire after Ukrainian shelling of the railroad. It was emitting smoke for two days, and when the fire was extinguished, a large batch of candy meant for shipping to Lvov in Western Ukraine was found. As a result, Vostok militiamen had no deficit in sweets for teatime for a month, while the food aid we provided for local residents started to include cookies and candy.

Delivering humanitarian aid. Yasinovataya. September 14, 2014.
“When will this be over?”
Delivering humanitarian aid. Yasinovataya. September 14, 2014.
Delivering humanitarian aid. Yasinovataya. September 14, 2014.

It is worth mentioning that the humanitarian situation at that moment in this district was hard: there was no water and electricity supply, the stores were barely working, local elderly had no money left (the mindful Ukrainian government ceased all social payments). For this reason our unit undertook a commitment to provide humanitarian aid for the local population, with Elbrus being the head of this area of our work. He created the lists of people in need, distributed macaroni and sugar in bags, talked to the locals and urged them to self-organize and help each other in these hard times. The people were grateful for the aid, they saw us as a true defenders, and this gave us the strength and confidence.

"Tell us about the situation in Donetsk."  "We are being heavily shelled for the past 3-4 days."  "Which districts are shelled?"  "All of them".
“Tell us about the situation in Donetsk.”
“We are being heavily shelled for the past 3-4 days.”
“Which districts are shelled?”
“All of them”.
Delivery of humanitarian aid by Vostok brigade. Yasinovataya. October 22, 2014

In mid-September Essence of Time Independent Tactical Group, as a part of Vostok brigade, participated in liberation of Panteleimonovka town from Ukrainian occupants. The operation was planned together with Gorlovka militiamen from the unit of Bes. The offensive had several stages and lasted three days. In the course of the offensive our unit cooperated with the armored group of Vostok, guarded and covered the military hardware. As a result of the offensive the following towns and villages were liberated: Vasilevka, Lebyazhie and Panteleimonovka. In addition, three trophy infantry fighting vehicles were added to the vehicle fleet of Vostok brigade.

The first night after Panteleimonovka was liberated was memorable. We camped on the outskirts of a village near a road, in the windbreak. Guard posts and armored vehicle guards were set, while Liteishik and I took up duty as senior guards. As soon as it got dark, Ukrainians started to “congratulate” us by mortars, hitting us with precision (they uncovered our positions fast). We didn’t dig in in time, and the mortar shells were either whizzing above us, falling 100-200 meters ahead, or hitting before reaching us at the same distance. The feeling wasn’t a good one, especially when each following shell was exploding closer and closer. Liteishik and I broke a sweat, while our combat comrades were snoring nearby, carefree (physical exhaustion clearly seems to dim the sense of fear and, apparently, hearing). When a few shells got stuck in the cans of stewed meat nearby, I dared to wake commander Volga up and asked him: “Perhaps we should move to another place?” To which I received a confident response: “Better not!”. This confidence calmed me down and nobody of our guys was wounded that night. But we didn’t push our luck any further, for the whole next day we were digging trenches.

After Panteleimonovka was liberated and Kanalskaya road that connects Donetsk, Gorlovka and Yenakievo was opened, the command made the decision to fortify in Panteleimonovka. For almost two months our units was defending the town and reinforced the positions of the militia there in close cooperation with the armored group.

During all this time inside our unit we did serious educational and combat training, practicing the skills of cooperation in groups and divisions. Classes in medicine, topography, ground navigation, practice shooting were the almost daily routine of our unit. At the same time special attention was given to the ideological component. We had evening discussions on different topics, watched documentaries and movies. All of this reinforced motivation of each of us and attracted new militiamen to join us — the unit rapidly increased in numbers.


Other stories of “Essence of Time” unit soldiers: “Essence of Time” unit in Donbass

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