Conflicts & War

Ukraine war volunteers struggle with heavy weapon shortages

By Luis Lidon

Kyiv, Jun 19 (EFE).- While the Ukrainian army is flush with highly motivated volunteers to help defend their war-torn country, heavy weapons to repel Russia’s artillery war in the Donbas region are in short supply.

About 30 volunteers participate in training on the outskirts of Kyiv before they are deployed into combat to fight against the Russian invasion.

Some of the aspiring soldiers are members of the Revenge Battalion, established after the February 24 Russian invasion.

“The name of the battalion means that we want to take revenge on Russia’s aggression,” public relations officer Lyudmyla Cherkas, who manages the unit’s press duties, tells Efe. The 23-year-old is also a volunteer.

To volunteer in the battalion, one must be over 18 years old and pass an assessment interview. Several of the instructors are foreigners.

People join this battalion because, according to Cherkas, it has better facilities for recruits and offers quality training and personal treatment.

“We are like a family,” Cherkas says.

The battalion has about 250 members and undertakes frontline combat duties, including urban warfare. It has been taking place in the conflict hotspots, from Kherson in the south to Donbas’ Severodonetsk in the east.

Volunteers differ in their origin, age and how they look but sidelining their pre-war dreams is what they have in common. They know they might die and are still impatient to go to the frontline.

Olexandr, 27, is a chef who had plans to emigrate to Berlin to try his luck there, but the war has changed the scenario he wrote for his life.

He has no combat experience and yet is not intimidated by Russia’s weapon superiority.

“I like to get out of my comfort zone and right now the most important thing is to defend our country,” he explains.

“We train all day, from morning to night, we only rest while eating and sleeping. It looks like an American movie but it’s reality,” he adds.

“My brother and I want to go to the front. When we finish training we will be ready to do it,” Olexandr says.

The exercises take place in the facility where the volunteers live together for the training duration to create a team spirit that will be necessary later at the frontline.

“I wouldn’t go to the frontlines with someone I didn’t know very well either,” says Ruslan, who has combat experience and is one of the instructors.

Both Ruslan and Olexandr highlight accelerating Western arms deliveries to Kyiv at a time when around 150 Ukrainian fighters are being killed every day.

In a recent interview with Efe, Damien Magrou, the spokesman for the International Legion of Defense, called for speeding up the arrival of weapons to avoid unnecessary deaths in the Ukrainian ranks.

“We need much more heavy weapons. We need more heavy artillery. We need long-distance rockets, anti-ship missiles, and anti-rocket missiles. And we need them now because every day up to 150 Ukrainian soldiers die,” he pointed out.

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