Realities of This War

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



It’s a spring evening, somewhere on the outskirts of Gorlovka. A family of two people is sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea, slowly engaging in conversation about pressing issues. Plans for the summer are made as far as it’s possible during a time of war and life on the frontline area. It is necessary to have the roof replaced, the slate is already old, the house was left to him from his wife’s parents, but there are problems, finances are also limited and this situation… Who knows where the shells will arrive today or tomorrow. Attacks come every day from the side of Dzerzhinsk.

“The Makarin family received a shell in their allotment two days ago,” said the wife, Marina, 36-year-old. The seedling was gone, the window glass flew out again, and the roof was battered. The Makarin family themselves were not wounded at this time. Andrey, the head of the family, knew of course about the arrival of the shell in the Makarin’s allotment, about the other arrivals, the number of which is growing every day – or more precisely in the night. Especially at night, the Ukrainian military become active, shelling residential areas of the DPR as far as the distance of the projectile permits. Then the conversation led to the need to go to Yasinovataya, to his daughter Tanya, who lives temporarily with Marina’s sister Anna, because Yasinovataya is still much quieter than Gorlovka, and she spent her academic year there. But the oil in the car needs changing. The engine oil of the not young but the still very cheerful “Opel-Vectra” has done 2000 “km”, and its change was scheduled in the next week or two. It would be also nice to go on a little vacation, if finances would allow and we shall live,” they reasoned.

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That same evening, at Ukrainian positions near Novgorodskoye. Ukrainian soldiers finished their evening meal, richly “flavored” with alcohol.

“I need to loosen up,” said Vitya, the commander of the D-30 howitzers group, the battery of which is right here in position. “Separatists” got bored there I suppose, the order came to “terrorize”, and also we need casings – or to be exact, money for them, as for the nonferrous metal, the volume of delivery of which would arouse the envy of Soviet activists, pioneers, who collected it under the slogan “everything that is needed for junk, we will collect for scrap,” everything they could find, and sometimes to even tear off/unscrew, competing with other groups of pioneers.

“Will we beat on the same direction as we did yesterday?” asked the gunner Grisha, a native of Ternopil, whilst lighting a cigarette.

“No, we’ll take a little bit more south, because they already got used to it, but we need to also let other places enjoy it,” said commander Vitya, a resident of Kirovograd, who before the war was employed as a truck driver.

After some 10 minutes the shells are extracted from the boxes, on which someone who had nothing else to do neatly in Gothic script derived the inscription “Matches for Cotton” [Cotton, in Russian “Vata”, means “Vatnik” – a Russian – ed] , “For Children of Donbass”, “Hello from Pastor” [Turchynov – ed]... Three guns are loaded, the gunner of one of the howitzers rotates the hand-wheel, changing the azimuth. The command is given to fire, a volley, a shudder of air, dust, smoke, the clink of empty shells…

“It went beautifully, burnt cotton continued to be scorched,” said one of the loaders, former “Aidar” member Vasyl, a 23-year-old native of Chelopech of the Rivne oblast. It’s him, with his other co-worker, ardent supporters of Nazi ideology, who write wishes on shells during the day in their spare time. Volunteers from Kiev constantly bring them packets of black and red markers. Vasyl periodically takes a selfie against the background of the shells with wishes for the children of Donbass and sends them to his fiancé, who in turn boasts to her friends, telling them how “heroical” her fiancé is.

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The last thing that the family drinking tea in the kitchen of their house on the outskirts of Gorlovka heard was an explosion, and in an instant the wall with part of the roof turned into a pile of debris, the shrapnel instantly killing Marina, the blast threw her body several feet in-depth across the room. Viktor with a broken spine, with a few fragments in his body, was still alive for a few minutes… that’s why their neighbours, who ran very quickly to their place after the shelling, couldn’t see them alive. The bloodied body of a man, who died before the visit of neighbours, engulfed with the debris of the walls, the kitchen shelves and old slate, and the woman lying at the entrance to the kitchen. Her finger was still clutching the handle of a cup, the wreckage of which was here in a puddle of blood sprinkled with dust…

The following morning in one of the Kirovograd apartments Nikolay and his wife Tatyana, a family of people aged “closer to 40” had coffee and watched TV. The presenter of the Channel 5 morning news programme was talking about the latest shelling of Gorlovka “by Russian troops”. Alarmed by the tone, she stressed intelligence information of the “ATO” headquarters about the transfer of one more column of “Russian troops” on the railway in Ilovaisk. Nikolay took his coffee and went to the balcony to smoke. Suddenly, Tatyana’s phone rang. “Anna Sister” was written on the “Samsung” screen. Strange, thought Tatyana, what does she want. With her sisters living in Donbass, Tatyana, who was a native of Gorlovka, already for two years did not communicate. She accused her sisters that they did not support Ukraine, and that they welcomed the Russian World to their place, she called her sisters “separatists”. But nevertheless she didn’t reject the incoming call, she accepted it.

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A bitterly weeping Anna, who was also hugging the same weeping 10-year-old Tanya, daughter of Marina and Andrey, haltingly told her sister, who lives in Kirovograd, that Marina and Andrey are no more, their home was destroyed by shelling, and they died right in the kitchen…

After the conversation Tatyana sat in stupor for half a minute trying to comprehend what she had heard, the shelling, her sister who was lost in the attack, the speech of the presenter of the news on Channel 5 about the shelling of Gorlovka by “Russian troops”. Her husband who was smoking on the balcony did not hear the telephone conversation.

“So here what you called so much came to you,” thought Tatyana looking with glazed eyes in the window. Through the window it was the end of May, in the playground three kids chased each other, the woman from next door was walking her dog, talking on the phone with her husband from “ATO” Vitya, the commander of the D-30 howitzer, who enthusiastically talked to her about how tonight they successfully crushed another position of “Russian spetsnaz GRU”…


My story, you might say is generalized, their names are coincidences, and so on, I just briefly for the understanding described the episode of this moronic war unleashed against us and actively fuelled by the Ukrainian propaganda machine.

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