Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The People’s militia of Donbass receives reinforcements, including from abroad. Besides the Russian volunteers, the fighters of the international brigade fight side by side for the dignity of Donbass: German, American, Colombian, Afghan. The new movie by the war correspondent of VGTRK Aleksandr Sladkov is about them.
In 2014, in the height of combat in Donetsk an unusual person appeared. He walked in a cowboy hat or in a knitted hat. But always with a red star, like Che Guevara. He didn’t know the Russian language. He addressed to all in the same way: “Brother”. He went on the front line, explaining that he is a volunteer from the USA. And that he came to fight for Novorossiya. He was given a machine gun, grenade launcher, and the callsign “Texas”.
“You can’t prove anything with words. Your actions speak for you. And I became a volunteer, went to the airport to a very hot position on January 1st, 2015. They fired at me every day, but I was doing my work. And with my work I earned the trust and respect of many good people,” said Texas.
Among the foreign volunteers of Donbass there is even a real Afghan — Abdullah. He is fighting here for the third year. His nationality is Pushtun. He was born far from here, near the Pakistani border, in Jalalabad. He speaks Russian correctly and without accent. He is educated, and quotes the classics by heart. In Donetsk many try to guess who in reality is this Abdullah.
“For some, I am a dark horse, which appeared from out of nowhere, and it is unclear what it [dark horse – ed] does. There are different opinions at different moments. But I am a human being. I grew up and received an education in the Soviet Union. I am a Soviet man. Soviet. I am Shuravi! From the word “Soviet”. Although I am Pushtun Afghan,” said Abdullah.
“I considered the events when everything just began, but from the moment of events in Odessa I said: I am going there, I must go, I can’t stay at home. I practically didn’t doubt that I had to go,” confesses another volunteer – Alphonso.
We met Alphonso on the bank of the Sea of Azov. He has been fighting since September, 2015. Alphonso is Spanish, but grew up in Colombia. At school, like “Texas”, he was fond of music, and played the guitar. He worked at a plant, where he entered an anti-fascist organization. Alphonso came here without knowing Russian at all. He took a machine gun. He wanted to prove himself at work. Fierce fights at the Donetsk airport had just started.
Sergey, with the call sign “Krest”, is a skilled commander. He is a German, a citizen of Germany. We got acquainted near Donetsk, in the industrial zone. Last spring the Ukrainian troops tried to breakthrough the frontline here. It is still one of the most dangerous sites.
Three years ago “Krest” left his family and business in Europe, and went to defend Donbass. He won’t be able to return — in Germany he is considered as a mercenary, while he is a real volunteer.
I saw several times how volunteers go on an offensive. I am surprised at the strength of spirit of these people. They rush into battle. They are eager to attack. Without despair, with a huge desire to win. They so strongly believe in the future that they aren’t afraid of death. They want a new future for themselves, for their families.
“I am not afraid to die. There is no fear of death. I am afraid to lose the opportunity to achieve my desires, I am afraid not to do what I conceived, not to live up to victory. I am afraid to lose the opportunity to change what I consider as bad and unjust, like this war. That is what I am afraid of. While death … all people die, and we will die one day. The main thing is to what you are dream of,” assures Alphonso.
“Every night they look at the lights of our Donetsk. They see it, but can’t reach it. We don’t let them and we won’t let them. Can you imagine what mania they have, like lunatics. They look yearningly. But we won’t allow them!” said Abdullah.
Front line. Industrial zone. Positions of Krest’s unit. “Here the conditions are very harsh and as the soldiers who passed through Afghanistan and Chechnya said, here sometimes on the small front line, on this little slice, sometimes it is much more harsh than it was in Afghanistan or in Chechnya. But I can’t compare it. But those soldiers who were both there and here say it. They are forced to sit weeks, months in blindages. The ongoing war is very harsh. Five hundred meters from each other. The shells come down in tonnes,” said Krest. “Many can’t sustain it. They write an official report and leave. Only the resistant, strong, and steady remain”.
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