'The Mongolian': The Story of Ukrainian Sniper
21 March, 2017

Roman, call sign “The Mongolian”, is 26 and has been serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 3 years already. He is a sniper and says that the fighters even promise the reward for him. Still he doesn’t hide his face and sincerely tells us his story. For security reasons we aren’t allowed to tell neither the subdivision, nor the positions Roman keeps.

Roman told as an interesting story about the training camp he went through. “There were guys from the anti-terrorist area in our company, who served in the 93th brigade, kept positions in the airport, went through Debaltseve, Ilovaisk and what not, and when they signed a contract they were sent to Desna training camp and sergeant-conscripts were teaching them. They even didn’t know how to hold weapon in their arms right. In fact, we were teaching them, not they us”, - Roman says. Also he complains that they were forced to wear the “pixel” uniform, which doesn’t have camouflage effect, fits awfully, made of threads of bad quality and gets torn very quickly.

“The Mongolian” and his fellows are like in a “cauldron” here: 200 meters from the right and 700 meters from the left the positions of the separatists start.

Roman stresses that the role of volunteers in this war is extremely significant and thanks them. In 2014, the only thing which was provided by the Armed Forces of Ukraine was the bulletproof vest. “They gave us out simple rifles and that was all. They didn’t give us assault rifles, because two columns that were going to the conflict zone before us got into encirclement”, - Roman says. On the contrary, the government, he thinks, is consciously perpetuating the conflict. “There is enough of equipment at big state military warehouses, but they don’t give it out to us”, - he says.

“The situation now has got a bit different. We were maneuvering before and here we are having a trench-position war. Our feet have been wet for more than a week. I think we’ll get used to it and lose all the adrenaline we have. There’s nothing good in catching a cold and getting ill”, - Roman shows his legs in mud up to the knees. However, he says that it has gotten easier than it was in 2014 when everyone didn’t know what to do and how.

Roman remembers when the Minsk agreements were just signed. “In general, all the ceasefires started from serious artillery preparation at all the positions. They usually use shoot less from small arms during the ceasefires, but use more of heavy weapons. That’s what the ceasefire is like. That side has never kept the ceasefires. Each time when we opened fire in response their losses were high and they were asking for a ceasefire and our commanders were scolding us for not keeping it”, - Roman says.

“We don’t shout “Betrayal!”. We got used to everything. We’re just trying to do our best. The problem is that commanders are so “wise” that even manage to put spoke into the wheel. We want to finish this was and get back to our families”, - he says.

The war in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014. There has been total of 9940 deaths – 2367 civilians and 3527 UAF, NGU, volunteer forces. The war is being fought between Ukrainian Armed forces, the National Guard of Ukraine, and volunteer forces on one side and separatist forces from the self-proclaimed ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’, and assisted by Russian Armed Forces on the other side. 

Translated by Olga Kuchmagra

Report by Bohdan Kutiepov