Bakhmut. Live. B.
We went to our position in October. Eight of us. We took up a position in a village near Bakhmut, where already at that point not a single house remained standing. Near one of them we set up a firing position where I worked without a break for 41 days. We slept in the cellar, dressed, not taking our footwear off, pulling 2−3 sleeping bags over us.
Every night we fended off two stormings by the russians. During one such storm we eliminated eight russians, wounded one, and took a tenth prisoner.
This was a 26-year old soldier from central russia. He was dressed in summer pants in which it was very cold, a useless soviet helmet, a civilian jacket that he stole already here, and a good armored vest. His first aid kit had only two wrappings and a tourniquet. In his pockets were an icon and a photo of his wife. He had no documents on him, and no food. He was very hungry.
He said that he lived in a smallish village where absolutely all the men from 18−50 were mobilized. They taught him to shoot for three weeks and then sent him to the front. When they got here, his commander had all the newly-minted men line up the very first day in front of him and told them to go storm.
Four soldiers refused and, as the prisoner said, these insubordinates were shot in front of everyone. After that, no one refused again. This particular prisoner was captured his second day at the front. He added: if he had tried to retreat during the attack, his own commander would have shot him.
Next to us was a bombed-out house and in the next one behind that russians had already settled in. There was less than 100 meters between us. Our sappers had mined the territory between us, but still, the enemy had a way to get around the minefield. In the dark, I very carefully listened to all the rustlings.
Still, the men who were with me had operated artillery previously and they had serious problems with their hearing. And so I slept only three-four hours in a night because I was afraid that the boys who were with me simply wouldn’t hear anyone quietly crawling towards them.
Sometimes there were only older men with me who couldn’t shoot. They loaded ammunition while I switched machine-guns and continually fired rounds. Sometimes I went through a thousand bullets in a single night.
One day they brought us a young guy from another company. He stood on patrol for about half an hour. The kid was all of 20 cm from me when a sniper took him out. Right in the head. I never even got to introduce myself.
The snipers worked on us a lot of the time. That meant that in order to evacuate a wounded man, we had to wait until dark. Even then, there was a huge risk that the wounded soldier might bleed to death while waiting.
On the 41st day, I had two contusions. When I asked my commander to let me evacuate, I was told to stay in my position because we were short-handed. For a couple of days I lay around in the cellar, unable to do anything. My head hurt all the time and I was nauseated. I took some pills and slowly recovered. On the third day after this I slowly began to do something. For awhile, I couldn’t hear anything in my left ear, and my left arm and lag hurt all the time.
During the last two days, my mind began to go off. I thought the russians were moving towards us on all sides. I decided for myself that I would not surrender. Just in case, I kept a grenade near me at all times.
All those 41 days, I constantly tried to keep myself busy to keep useless thoughts from worming their way into my brain and I tried not to focus on the stress: I built fortifications, dug, carried water, food, and ammo…
We support one another here as best we can. We try to distract ourselves with conversations so that we don’t go crazy. We’re tired as all hell. But we have no choice. We keep standing.
Anton, Donetsk Oblast