Viktor Shayga Russian Volunteer in Ukraine Part 2.

Previously on Viktor Shayga.


One moment was indicative - our starshina (who never went into attacks himself) gave one of the PKM machine guns to one guy. I asked the guy - ‘did the round go in to the barrel?’. I personally did not know how to insert the machine gun belt in. I just knew how to take it off the safety and shoot. The guy said he had no idea and that they told him in his unit (in Valuyki) that he would be a driver. I called our starshina. He tried to send the round into the barrel but failed. The machine gun jammed. Then our senior praporshik came, who fought in Chechnya. It took him two minutes to load the machine gun. He did it. That’s how this attack was prepared.

End of Part 1.


Part 2. 


...However, as it turned out, it was not an attack on Dolgen'koye. Either the plans have changed, or the officers made a mistake, but we simply went on a path along the fields and shrubbery towards Suligovka village which was around 2,5 kilometers from Brazhniki, and by now was under our control for 6 days. However, we didn't know that. We kept thinking we were going to attack Dolgen'koye and that we needed to take the first street in this village. As we walked, Ukrainian army noticed us and started shelling us from GRADs and mortars. During the second, rather massive shelling I already said goodbye to my life - I thought that was it, that the next bomb will either rip my legs off or kill me instantly. It was really scary. 


That fella who was given a machine gun, he was 38 years old and not really used to physical activity. He was very exhausted from marching and running around with a machine gun, an assault rifle and an armoured vest, and his heart started aching. We reported about this to our commander. He told me to stay with the guy and to cover the retreat of the wounded from companies that were ahead of us. We moved back a bit, waited for the wounded (there were 4 of them, lightly wounded - someone in the hand, another had a shrapnel enter his back through an armoured vest, another had a light leg injury - everyone walked on their own). The wounded moved on but we stayed for another 40 minutes. We've heard how our guys got shelled with GRADs once more. Then me and this fella, we went down to Brazhovka village. I was carrying a machine gun. After staying there for 3 hours I went with someone on someone's BTR to Suligovka. The other guy also went there on the second company's BTR. But I didn't know back then it was Suligovka and believed I was going to Dolgen'koye which we were meant to capture.


In Suligovka, I found my company. In the afternoon the commander told us we did not accomplish our objective and that the next morning we have to go and assault Dolgen'koye. Many company commanders in the two battalions of the 752th regiment told their fighters that we are being sent to a sure death, since the Ukrainians are well prepared. So they said - decide for yourself if you want to go or not. Four fifths of us (if not more) refused to go. So did I.  In many ways because I simply had no physical energy to keep going into an assault. Yet many volunteers from other companies went into that attack in the morning. Not me. From our company, three people went including the Sr. Lieutenant. He got wounded in his leg. As those who later came back from the assault were telling us - it was 7 kilometers of walking through the fields between Suligovka and Dolgen'koye. They left at 10AM and only by 4PM managed to reach 600 meters from the village. They were exhausted. All this time they marched under heavy mortar and artillery shelling. Dead and wounded started appearing. When we reported to our battalion commander Major Vasyura about dead and wounded, he cussed: 'leave them and keep advancing!!!'.

They said that reconnaissance squad commander who was moving together with our incomplete companies got wounded. He himself told his scouts to keep going forward and support the attack, and to pick him up later. He appointed another senior to them. After all, they picked him up. When they almost reached Dolgen'koye the mortar shelling became very intense. A Ukrainian tank started firing. This resulted in even more dead and wounded. The officers (who were alive and not wounded) did not know what to do. Then, one of the volunteers (he told me that in person; he was 40 years old and for 12 years prior he served on a contract, including in GRU; a combat veteran) said: 'Guys, we need to fall back, otherwise we will be smashed with mortars and those who stay alive will be finished off'. So they retreated. Everyone was exhausted. It was very difficult carrying the wounded. We came back at 11PM. One of the volunteers, Andrey from Kursk who came together with me said that many simply ran off while retreating. He yelled at them to help pull out the wounded, but they didn't help. He said he wanted to grab an assault rifle and start shooting in their backs... Thus, the grenade launcher platoon commander, Captain Nikolaev who was dragged for 4 hours, died from blood loss... I didn't know him personally, but everyone said he was a very good person... So that was an attack on Dolgen'koye on 20 April...


After this attack, almost everyone refused to go into another attack the next day... Only a part (11 people from the remnants of two battalions) stayed and were sent to the very frontline, into shrubbery half a kilometer away from Suligovka to help motorised riflemen from Sakhalin who held defence there... It's important to note that, in principle, many of those who refused to attack (myself included) were ready to hold defence under mortar fire, yet we were still told to walk with on our own to Izyum. In fact, they took away our weapons. They took our weapons at the very frontline...


I'l also add that due to constant lies we couldn't believe our command anymore. Twice before the attacks we were told that everything was going to be alright, that the enemy artillery was suppressed, that ahead of us other units of ours are already advancing and we just needed to reach them... But each time this turned out to be a lie and ended up with senseless losses for us. We kept wondering why are being sent into these insane assaults?! We thought, perhaps it was to locate the enemy artillery while it was shelling us? Or for the Ukrainians to use up their shell stocks on us? Then we wondered if it was to distract the attention of the Ukrainian army? I don't know. Many had a feeling that we were just deliberately being destroyed. Looking ahead, I’ll say that based on the fact that different units tried to take Dolgen'koye, I think that our command simply had the task of taking Dolgen'koye and simply sent in everyone they could. It got to a point where in early May they started sending only 7 people to attack!! As I understood, other units went to assault Dolgen'koye one or two times before stopping. I think on 1st of May OMON and other special forces (possibly SOBR) went there also. They also failed to take it. They just simply walked around at another area with the remnants of our regiment. It's just that in other units the command took care of the subordinates, while our leadership as I understood didn't care about us. The 45th reconnaissance regiment of the Airborne Forces tried to advance through the forest to Dolgenkoye on April 19 as were going to Suligovka. They didn't make it - there was an intense firefight in the forest, to the right of us. We heard it very well. Airborne had one person killed, retreated and refused to advance on Dolgen'koye. 


In Suligovka I stayed for 3 days, then me and another guy from my company (he previously served in 'Vityaz' spetsnaz on a contract), and a guy from another company together left to Izyum on a truck. There we ended up in one location on the outskirts of Izyum where all the so-called '500's, those who refused, were being gathered. 

I got there around 25 April. We were basically used as a workforce - we dug trenches, carried earth bags to reinforce division headquarters, sawed pines for dugouts. Nearly every day they were bringing new 'refusers' to us. Their stories were even more tragic than ours... New volunteers were immediately thrown onto Dolgen'koye upon arrival to Ukraine. There were no more officers so they were picking the most hardened ones among the volunteers (ones who fought in Chechnya and Syria), appointed them as seniors, gave them radios and sent them to assault... At the end of April they brought to us around 18 people who advanced as a large group of 120. They said that apart from them some other unit attacked Dolgen'koye from another direction. Perhaps that is why they reached Dolgen'koye without any mortar shelling. They had 300-400 meters to go when they came under crossfire from two machine guns... Even closer to them were positions of Ukrainian assault riflemen. They started combat. Our guys also had machine guns and RPGs. As I understood they killed at least 6 assault riflemen but had to retreat due to Ukrainian machine guns which they couldn't suppress. Most likely the machine guns were located in well-fortified positions. The guys said that if they had a little help, if the machine guns were suppressed with helicopters or tanks, then they would have entered Dolgen'koye...

When I was still in Suligovka and we went into attacks, they said that motorised riflemen from Klintsy entered Dolgen'koye as one full company on BTR's, but it is said they were sent deliberately as they were fired at from three directions. Yet they still withdrew on their own from the triangular ambush in Dolgen'koye. They said it was even before we came, before 19 April, that 8 tanks and infantry entered Dolgen'koye but decided to keep going rather than taking positions, so the tankmen went forward and almost all of them got hit, and then the infantry was also pushed out... 


In May they brought the remnants of 'Bars' (trained reservists from all of Russia) - 14 people. They assaulted Dolgen'koye for a month and remained in the area. As I understand it, they were attached to the leadership of our wicked division. In total, 340 of them arrived to Ukraine. After a month of shelling only 57 remained. Moreover, half of the survivors were at the headquarters. Most of them were wounded. They never had a single firefight, all the losses came from Ukrainian artillery fire... 


My opinion is that if it wasn't for the Ukrainian artillery, its power and precision, then our folks would have crushed the Ukrainian army in firefights. It is my opinion.

As for us volunteers, in my opinion we were generally combat-ready and could attack quite well (as far as our skills and knowledge allowed), it's just that after such disgusting and vile attitude from our leadership, many didn't want to stay and fight in this unit... myself included. 

I can understand, command can make mistakes, but when you realise the leadership simply doesn't care about you and you are sent for a sure senseless death, it really discourages you from fighting. 

Another thing - during this whole time, in the whole division, only the officers were receiving state awards. Not a single sergeant or a private received an award. I spoke to five staff contractors from our company. They were very young - 19-22 years old, kind and joyful despite everything. They were taking Kamenka with other units of ours. Of them, eight people entered in their area. They killed 12 Ukrainian fighters in combat. One of the killed was an officer. They found a radio on him. From radio they found Ukrainians were preparing reinforcements in their area - 40 people were meant to help Ukrainians in Kamenka. Our guys figured out where the Ukrainians would be coming from and ambushed them. They killed all 30 people in combat. These guys are 19-21 years old. They are excellent at shooting from everything - RPG-7, 'Mukha', machine guns. They are in many ways still children but fought to the death - with courage and till the end... Why did none of them get any awards?! They also refused attacking Dolgen'koye and later left with us to Russia and broke their contracts. 

Ukrainian army continuously shells our positions with mortars, artillery, Tochka-U's. I have no idea where Ukraine got so many Tochka-U's from. But in Izyum our anti-aircraft was taking down many of them every day. That's what they said. In general, speaking of our division, our anti-aircraft was the best-working, most combat-ready unit, as I understood.


Tankmen had huge losses... Our tanks were hit in dozens during attacks and while marching... Just in general we have immense vehicle losses, both BTRs and BMPs, trucks, engineering vehicles... But the most terrifying thing is the amount of people dying every day, are made disabled, and how many are captured...

End of Part 2.