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EXCLUSIVE War in Ukraine

“We will liberate Donetsk. Many Ukrainians are waiting.” – an interview with a Ukrainian soldier.

[Klitina] Good afternoon. Today we have an interview with a Ukrainian soldier with the call sign Stone. He just arrived from Bakhmut in the Donetsk Region, the hottest point of the front at the moment

Sep. 8, 2022

[Klitina] Good afternoon. Today we have an interview with a Ukrainian soldier with the call sign Stone. He just arrived from Bakhmut in the Donetsk Region, the hottest point of the front at the moment, where the fighting is going on.

[Stone] Good afternoon.

[Klitina] You are a well-known person in Kyiv. You worked in the law enforcement committee of the Parliament and are also an extreme traveler. Why did you decide to defend Ukraine?

[Stone] It was impossible for me not to go to defend Ukraine, my native land. If you are a true patriot of your country and have a family here, then there should not even be a question of going to defend it or not. However, it can be defended in different ways: being a journalist, as you are, a volunteer, a soldier, repairing equipment and helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces or ordinary people. All this is a contribution to our great victory.

[Klitina] Did you see many deputies from the Parliament at the front?

[Stone] The hottest battles are going on in Donbas in Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Sloviansk, Druzhkivka, and other settlements. I saw deputies not only of the Parliament but also at the regional level. In my opinion, they are true patriots of Ukraine. Many deputies of regional and district councils are, in one way or another, related to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and serving on the front lines – along the entire front line, and I am very proud and happy for them.

[Klitina] You surprised me that our deputies are fighting on the front line – that’s great. In Kyiv, currently not much information from the front. I saw Russian generals and (Russian general Sergei) Shoigu capture Bakhmut and Pisky seven or eight times each. What is going on there? Is Russia on the offensive or Ukrainian forces on the offensive? What is the situation now?

[Stone] Since March, the most active phase in all eight years has been going on, that we called the conflict. It is a war.

[Klitina] Are Russians attacking us every day in Bakhmut?

[Stone] Yes, their attacks seven times a day incur losses. The Russians are losing a huge resource there in both manpower and technology. It is how the Russians are motivated – they send sons to the army and, when they die, get a car (television story on Russian television).

We repel all these attacks, and all of Shoigu’s statements are propaganda. In general, Shoigu understands more about deer, moss, and mushrooms. Why did he go to this war? He probably thought Ukraine would be an easy walk to receive merit in his military career. But Ukrainians have shown that we are a nation of winners and will beat them to the end. The Russians have not had much success there. We are in almost the same positions as in 2014.

Suppose the lend-lease and arms deliveries from our Western partners occur actively, which is already happening. In that case, we will also liberate Donetsk, where many Ukrainians are waiting. Of course, there are many on the Russian side, but there are Ukrainians for whom we are fighting. We are not just fighting for territories. We are fighting for people.

[Klitina] How many people remained in Bakhmut, Donetsk Region?

[Stone] About 25 percent and they ask us not to leave there under any circumstances. Many people write to me, “Don’t give up on Bakhmut.” Because for us, it’s Ukraine, and for the Russian army, this rabble – I don’t know what else to call them – it’s not clear what. Russians call LPR and DPR officers disposable. They don’t even have callsigns or ranks. They are nobody to Russians, but these are our people – just intoxicated by propaganda. I think that sooner or later they will have to change their views, if they stay alive.

[Stone] Now the Ukrainian army not only fights back but regularly counterattacks. A turning point in this war has come. We started a counteroffensive in the Donetsk direction. I am not talking about Kherson: There we are beating Russians and liberating a few settlements daily, which will all result in our victory. We are squeezing the Russians along the entire front line.

[Klitina] What are the needs for our victory? Is it primarily the weapons?

[Stone] Yes, heavy weapons: howitzers, tanks, barrel artillery, and more HIMARS and German Panzerhaubitze supplied to us by Western partners. These weapons are already at the front and working. No one breaks it: This is all a lie. I declare that not a single HIMARS was harmed by Russians.

[Klitina] Only wooden ones burn?

[Stone] Yes, wooden ones burn. All those weapons allegedly destroyed by the Russians are wooden models. Real HIMARS work clearly on the enemy and do their job.

[Klitina] Do the Russians use weapons prohibited by international conventions? Are there many dead and wounded among civilians?

[Stone] Russians massively use prohibited weapons: phosphorus bombs, thermobaric rocket launchers, unguided bombs FAB-500 and FAB-1000 weighing a ton. These unguided bombs Russians drop from a vast height. The pilot does not see the target. He throws the bomb on the general square where villages and cities are located. The Russians drop bombs on the heads of peaceful people. Many children and women, and the elderly die from this.

[Klitina] Did any exciting or funny incidents happen during your service?

[Stone] Yes, a lot. I will tell you about the last one. Part of this story was shown on television. Our tank worked well and the Russians began to run away. They threw away the fighting vehicle even without firing a single shot. We did not give them such an opportunity. The Russians fled in their underpants – they were fighting in winter uniform in summer and left this swamp-colored uniform, designed for them by the Russian fashion designer (Valentin) Yudashkin. Russian servicemen ran away in their underwear, and we took all these uniforms and will give them to the museum.

[Klitina] A Russian battalion is fighting in Ukraine, and the Russian opposition is organizing a coordination center for armed resistance to Putin’s regime. There is a lot of criticism against them, but I believe supporting people who want to fight for us is necessary. Can the Russians make a revolution? Do you support these initiatives?

[Stone] If this is not a political project, then I support it. If they are for Ukraine, I don’t mind. If it is sincerely from the heart and people are ready to go to the front and fight.

[Klitina] As far as I know, they are fighting, also in the Donetsk direction.

[Stone] Yes, they are fighting on all front lines. There are these guys.

[Klitina] They also complained that Ukrainian militaries were always arresting them by mistake.

[Stone] It was. They are constantly being arrested because it is war. I believe that sooner or later, it will end and then become clear who is who. It is impossible to stay out. I know someone who has been abroad for months and does not know how to return. Just come and help because we have a big fight ahead. It won’t end, as someone says, in two or three weeks.

[Klitina] Do you think that the war will drag on?

[Stone] It will take a long time, but we will win. I’m sure. I can see from the guys’ motivation – no one is backing down anywhere. All are very literate, motivated and already know how to fight. Tactically, we are defeating Russians. They are (the Golden) Horde, and have remained so. Russians have only a way home in a bag or with their hands raised. I am ready to repeat a hundred and a thousand times that Ukraine will win.