Crowdfunding Weapons As Ukraine Soldiers Fight, Die

(MENAFN- Asia Times) In his latest report from the frontlines, Ukrainian-American journalist-activist David Kirichenko shares his efforts to deliver crucial supplies , including high-tech surveillance drones, to Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk Oblast and Zaporizhzhia Oblast. He bears witness to the emotional toll inflicted on these troops after more than two years of war and reflects on how freedom for Ukraine remains the ultimate goal for those still fighting. This is the second of two parts. Read part one.

I had last visited my friends in the 109th
Separate Territorial Defense Brigade in the late summer of 2023, when their unit was stationed close to Bakhmut. A few weeks after I'd left, their base was struck by the Russians and they had to evacuate from Bakhmut. Norman, a unit commander, told me about that development in March of this year when I revisited the brigade, whose most recent fighting had been close to the Avdiivka front.

As they had done during my prior visit, the soldiers took me out to the field and deployed a new drone they had received from the Ukrainian government. This one was a
Backfire K1 . At one point in the distance, there was an explosion – it was the Russians bombing Ukrainian positions nearby – and the shockwave roared past us. I couldn't imagine being on the zero-line, where soldiers receive the brute force of those bombs falling on them.

The soldiers from the 109th
also showed me a little radio-controlled car they were testing. They were in the process of making sure all its functions worked, as they were preparing to stuff it with explosives and send it into a Russian trench to detonate.

Soldiers from the 109th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade prepared the radio-controlled car to drive it into a Russian trench later in the day after packing it with explosives. Photo: David Kirichenko Resigned to his fate but still there, still fighting

I conducted drone warfare interviews with several soldiers from the unit, including Norman. He has a very gentle and soft nature. If you'd known him in his prior life you never would have assumed Norman would become a soldier. When I last saw him in late 2023, as in all previous interactions, he was happy and cheerful. But this time around, he was different. Norman was colder, and in our interview he was soft-spoken and seemed a bit distracted.

After my return from Ukraine, it hit me. I now realize that his spirit was crushed. What I had interpreted as coldness from Norman was his response to the repeated trauma of watching his men fall and the toll that had taken over time. He seemed resigned to his fate, aware that his end might be near, yet compelled to endure the agony of losing his comrades first. Norman knows his time is coming, yet he is still there, still fighting.

With my friends from the 109th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade. I brought them a Mavic 3 Pro drone. On the far-left is Dmytro Lysenko (Callsign Lys), and the unit commander, Norman, is holding the drone. I'm the one in blue jeans. From left to right, by their Ukrainian callsigns Lys, Melnyk, Norman, and Bukhar. Photo: David Kirichenko

Our physiological instinct is to live; our soul's instinct is to love. When we have to fight to defend ourselves and our loved ones, we will, but we can only take so much. The loss and sorrow that Norman and many other soldiers feel is overwhelming.


Asia Times

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