Ivan, known as "Museum" by his call sign, is the commander of the 205th Battalion Company in the Pechersk district of Kyiv. His unit valiantly defended Severodonetsk and Bakhmut. Before the full-scale invasion, Ivan worked in the PR and mass communications field. He had not planned a military career, but in January 2022, he initiated the process of joining the Territorial Defense Forces. After undergoing a medical examination and gathering the necessary documents, Ivan received a phone call from the battalion on February 24, 2022, at 6:40 a.m., instructing him to report for deployment. Initially, Ivan's unit was assigned to guard facilities in Kyiv. In late spring 2022, they were deployed to Severodonetsk, where they held the frontlines for over a month. Subsequently, from January to March 2023, Ivan's company defended Bakhmut.
🔸 Bakhmut We spent exactly two months and four days in Bakhmut, enduring the coldest time of the year. Urban warfare is widely known to be the most terrifying and challenging, primarily due to the close proximity to the enemy and the intensity of combat. We faced constant assaults and carried a tremendous responsibility as our Territorial Defense Forces unit safeguarded crucial crossings over the Bakhmutka River. Losing our positions would have placed the entire troop concentration beyond the river in a dire situation, as it was the only supply route available. This is a contemporary era of high-maneuver warfare, where infantry plays a vital role in holding and capturing positions. Infantry soldiers are the ones in the thick of the fight. Population centers and strategic positions are primarily secured and taken by infantry forces. Undoubtedly, achieving a combat mission with proper equipment is incredibly challenging and possible only with weapons. I always emphasize that it is not the weapons that fight but the people. When motivated individuals hold their positions, success favors the side where the infantry proves resilient.
🔸 Cooperation and Brotherhood When holding combat positions, it becomes imperative to clearly understand the comrades standing to your left and right. With good cooperation and coordination, fulfilling the combat mission becomes possible. Before taking up combat positions, establishing effective communication and recognition systems and setting up passwords is crucial. Only then can we anticipate particular success. It's akin to a chain, where each link covers and supports its neighboring links. The entire defensive line becomes vulnerable if any part of the chain weakens or breaks. Therefore, the stability of a position dramatically relies on the seamless interaction between different units. I have witnessed the camaraderie among soldiers, irrespective of their unit affiliation. They share essential resources such as food, water, weapons, and ammunition. They support one another unconditionally. In critical situations, it doesn't matter which unit a soldier belongs to. The focus is on rescuing the wounded. Medics, too, prioritize saving lives without questioning the soldier's origin. They load, stabilize, and provide care. Experienced soldiers generously share their knowledge with their less experienced counterparts, guiding them and helping them evolve into seasoned warriors. Initially, we were shown how to carry out combat missions with minimal risk to life and maximum impact on the enemy. Eventually, we passed on this acquired experience to others. It's a constant, living mechanism—a testament to the realities of combat operations. Knowledge is exchanged, personnel is rotated, and life within these operations remains vibrant and dynamic.
🔸 Severodonetsk During the past year, our unit bravely held positions in Severodonetsk for almost a month. It was our baptism by fire, as many of us were inexperienced and untested in combat. The intensity of the fighting took us by surprise, even those with prior experience in Anti-Terrorist Operations (ATO).
We worked closely with the "Svoboda" Battalion, specifically the 4th Brigade of the National Guard. These experienced fighters had already been through battles in Irpin, Bucha, and Rubizhne. They became our mentors, imparting their knowledge on fighting and holding positions. We incorporated their invaluable experience into our own tactics when defending our positions.
While we were somewhat prepared, there's a vast difference between individual training and being thrust into an actual combat zone. True unity within a unit is forged in the crucible of actual combat.
The soldiers in my unit are incredibly motivated. They volunteered at the outset of the full-scale invasion, and we all remember the challenges we faced when joining the Defense Forces.
Despite the logistical challenges, we held our positions with unwavering determination and carried out our orders successfully. That was our purpose for being there in the first place.