Interview with a Ukrainian (Russian) soldier with a call sign “Maestro” who fights in an artillery unit in AFU. He came from Siberia to join the AFU. He tells about how Ukrainians treat him, soldiers’ life on the frontlines, volunteers, and the enemy.
Translation kindly provided by Volodymyr: https://twitter.com/VolodyaTretyak
Original video in Russian:
(I): So there are a lot of questions, but let’s move on to not ours. What can you say about them? You’ve been fighting there for more than a month. Do they have their anger too, or are they forced to fight there?
(M): I mean, the closest contact battle we had was somewhere about 500 700 meters. It was like an exception. There was a tank, and the infantry fought it off. So I did not have direct contact so that I could touch it, touch it with my hands, feel and be a part of it. But to me, it felt like Soviet mailboxes when they were shipped out. That is, they’re pouring out wagons of shells, grads, cassettes, phosphorus, and 99% of it all just flies off into the field.
(I): There’s an obscene expression that describes this kind of mission execution. I see.
(M): Yes, yes. [laughs]
(I): If you are a person from the trench, can you assess this specifically: is it the Russian army or the so-called mobilized DNR?
(M): I can’t tell. We are artillery. I don’t know who is there.
(I): Is there any soldier’s rumor about who’s better on that side? The Russian army or the “Lugandon” mobilized soldiers?
(M): No, about that, we are very much closed in our unit. We only communicate with the scouts and the radio operators. That is, as far as not discussing these things in any way, we deal with current issues. There’s a lot of them about who’s there and what. Well, that kind of mini kitchen policy doesn’t count. Well, people have nothing to talk about. It’s not about information; it’s about tra-la-la.
(I): That’s understandable. But no one expects analytical reports from you. Tell me, well, there are 24 hours a day. And you must sleep eight hours a day. Can you get some sleep there?
(M): Do you mean on the frontline? Well, if your nerves are all right and you can fall asleep in five minutes, a couple of half hours, or hours in 24 hours, you can get some sleep. I was lucky to get two hours of sleep in one 24-hour period. It’s been quiet, 02:00 sharp.
(I): For pity’s sake, how can a man stay awake 24 hours a day?
(I): Adrenaline is very serious, and day in and day out, a person sleeps two 3 hours, and that’s it?
(M): No, then the rotation happens, he goes to the second line and rests for a couple of days.
(I): But, Maestro, I think you’re saying strange things for a civilian man.
(M): When, well, how can I tell you? Three to six days on adrenaline work easily. Eating minimally, drinking a lot, smoking a lot. And the adrenaline sort of mobilizes the body. So after we went out, we could still play soccer, so the adrenaline was there for another 24 hours.
(I): I see. And when from this zero line, you move to the second line, where you can sleep and even take a summer shower. So what occupies a man’s mind at this time? What do they do, tell jokes? Playing basketball, soccer? Just trying to sleep? Watching stuff on the Internet? What do people do when there’s an opportunity?
(M): For the first two days, no one touches people; they sleep off, eat, go out, and talk to their families because they’re out of touch at zero. They rest for two days. Then we get together, we discuss it. We plan what to do. We see what to do next. So there is enough work. It is not possible to play soccer all day long. But in the first few days after frontlines, they give a man a two-day rest. No one disturbs him in any way.
(I): And then there are enough essential practical things to discuss, prepare, and decide. That is, there’s no time for idleness. So that’s how I understand you.
(M): I won’t say that from morning till night, we plow straight through, but there’s enough to do. Without going into detail.
(I): I see. So we read something on the Internet. There you get sometimes, there’s a month, there are months when people fight without rotation. What you are describing is somewhat different. Is it a well-organized unit where people are taken aside and allowed to sleep? Or is it a common practice? If you can assess that in any way.
(M): I can explain that. If you look out the window, you see a bus stop on the left and a house across the street. You don’t see anything else. But you can’t see Pechersk and Obolon [districts in Kyiv] at the same time. So I see what I see in this section. If in terms of fire intensity, on average, if it’s just regular shelling, it goes for about a minute, two 120s fly by, cassettes, and so on. And if it’s heavy fire, you can get two Grads and something more extensive in five minutes. I don’t know the name because it’s just a sound; it is a Smerch, or Uragan [multiple rocket launchers]. That’s what I see. But, I have no idea what the situation is five, ten kilometers away.
(I): So they do still have what to shoot?
(M): Yes. There is enough.
(I): You can see it close to you. So are they running out of it, or are they still doing well with those echelons of ammunition?
(M): I’ll put it this way. I guess before I got here to the front line, I was watching different analysts. So let’s not name them. I very much agree with you in terms of the sobriety of how the information is presented. People like Arestovich… I would probably judge such people. But that’s not at all what Arestovich is talking about, not at all.
(I): I see your point. It’s too early to say that they’ve started to run out of steam now.
(M): Yes, that’s right.
(I): That’s right. I see. Well, what can I tell you? I think I’ve already taken up enough of your time that it could be spent on a more positive holiday, thank you very much. Thank you so much for what you do, for coming here, and for fighting.
(M): Thanks a lot.