“The war will end for us when we enter Kuban.” So said a disabled Ukrainian soldier with a missing left arm above the elbow. He is a Ukrainian soldier born in the Cherkasy region, serving as a soldier in the Luhansk region. He is almost two meters tall. He returned from working in Poznań in Poland to defend his native land, where he was born, baptized, married, and baptized his child.
There are many like him, writes Askold S. Lozynskyj. I paid attention to every word as if he were an icon of the Cossack brotherhood. By the way, he is similar to the Cossacks in bravery, only he is half bald instead of having a scalp herring. I met Oleksandr for the first time in the USA, where he came for a prosthesis. We met in my office in New York. We cooperated on the supply of drones and thermal imagers for his brigade.
In Lviv, we met as friends, that is, simply to talk. We agreed on helping his brigade with few words, but with a meaningful look. After all, we have been cooperating for three months. It seems to me that friendship ensues when you understand each other by looking.
Today, this disabled Ukrainian soldier is completing rehabilitation and says he plans to return to the front. He says he feels fine. But, since he is disabled, it is necessary not only to change his military category and role from an infantryman to a sniper, and also to retrain formally. The brigade has already submitted its approval and is waiting for him.
Why did he join the fight immediately, in March 2022, and now wants to return. “Because this is my land… I hate them and will never forgive them… I want my daughter to live in Ukraine without fear and in the European way.”
Oleksandr speaks Ukrainian but with some Russian words peppered throughout. Well, I also peppered some Polish and English words.
Enemies and influences on every side. East and West sang together during the Orange Revolution. I have never felt a stronger sense of unity. These phrases that this is my land and I will never forgive them are probably not unique. Ukraine is united even if diverse. Aren’t there many Oleksandrs in the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
I didn’t want to taint our conversation with negativity, but at one point I couldn’t resist when he praised the help of the diaspora. I brazenly acknowledged that we have Ukrainians in the diaspora who even call themselves nationalists who do not provide any help in our struggle. He explained, “they are Americans, and this is my country.” He was being polite.
Oleksandr for some reason or, so he says, is not afraid of death. He is only thirty-six years old. By my standards he is a kid. He worries only about the fate of his twelve-year-old daughter, also Alexandra by name, and her future life on Ukrainian land.
The wife and daughter are not to leaving their native land. “There were no Muscovites in my village in Cherkashin, we spoke mostly in Russian, but only because we were used to it. In fact, we did not distinguish. Now I see the difference, because this is the language our enemies speak. They want to wipe us off the face of the earth. I will not allow it…I will try to erase them…they are not human…”
My interlocutor still has a long way to go. He must complete his rehabilitation and only then can he be retrained before he returns to his brigade. We agreed that he would let us know what our soldiers needed most. And we, for our part, will help and monitor how our soldiers defend Ukraine and marvel at their bravery. We are a nation of heroes.
My conclusion is that we will not give up Ukraine. Our defenders are diverse and yet very similar. I need not be convinced about our role. The whole world is on our side. But the world gives us only funds and weapons. We give blood. Alexander gave his arm for the time being, and only his left. Like many a disabled Ukrainian soldier, he returns to the front.
We agreed that after the war, we would meet on Ukrainian land in the Kuban. Having met Oleksandr, I have no doubt. After all, Kuban is our land. Alexander is not the first and not the last such Ukrainian with such vision. Fortunately, we have many Alexanders. Thank God! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Alexander!
See you in Kuban!
|Main image: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine|