This is how the Kalinouski regiment warriors are preparing to liberate Belarus.
Given the growing threat of the Belarusian army entering the war against Ukraine, the Different People project interviewed the fighters of the Kastus Kalinouski regiment. The battalion, and then the regiment, was formed at the beginning of a full-scale Russian invasion to defend Kyiv. Now the fighters of the regiment, which by 99% consists of Belarusian, are effectively defending Ukraine in different front sectors.
The website Charter97.org has made a transcript of the film made by the Ukrainian project.
“This is a historical window of opportunity for Belarus”
The story begins with an interview with Vadzim Kabanchuk, Deputy Commander of the Kastus Kalinouski Regiment:
— My name is Vadzim Kabanchuk. I have been in Ukraine since 2014, when I realized that after the Maidan, the invasion of Russian troops into the territory of Ukraine was beginning, so I decided to stay here. I followed the events on the Maidan very carefully, but when I realized that a war was beginning, there was no longer any doubt. I arrived, and brought several more lads with me. We first held a series of exercises, volunteered a little, and then joined the Ukrainian volunteers. And then we got into the positions near the Donetsk airport, some of us in 2014, and I was there already in 2015. And so, with varying success, we either fought, volunteered, or simply settled socially in Ukraine until 2022, when the second phase of the war began.
— Coming to Ukraine to support the Maidan is one story, but going to war is something different. I mean, you probably had certain readiness, preparation added up to desire.
— I am a pragmatist, I understood that this was a window of opportunity for Belarus. Because the regional issues of freedom and independence in Ukraine and Belarus are interconnected. And are tied to Russia. It is clear that until Russia weakens so much that they stop thinking about us, the entire region, including the Baltic countries and the Caucasus countries, will not have a free normal life. This means that now is a historic window of opportunity. I came to Ukraine in 2014 with an absolutely pragmatic vision, but I thought that this phase of the war, which is now taking place, would begin back then, in those years. This is what they were counting on: to provoke an internal civil conflict, when half of Ukraine would be at war with the other half.
— And then part of Ukraine would “ask for help”, which happened, but, fortunately, no one perceived President Yanukovych as legitimate at that time. But Lukashenka had the opportunity not to join this war, and for a very long time he offered Belarus as a platform for negotiations, in fact, a bridge for communications between Russia and Ukraine. What was the impetus for Lukashenka to make the decision to finally merge in ecstasy with Putin?
— As people say, the kiddo followed his dream. He has been walking along this path for a long time. Let’s start with the fact that he built his 1994 election campaign on the slogans of joining Russia. Together with Kebich’s nomenklatura, they competed to see who would be more pro-Russian for these comrades. We have information that the Primakov clan stood behind the elections, and bet on Lukashenka. For some reason, they decided that he would be stronger and, probably, would fulfill their promises faster. Apparently, they got it wrong.
— Vadzim, but if you say that they competed, who is more pro-Russian, then it means that the Belarusian society had a request for such a rapprochement with Russia. Otherwise, neither one nor the other would have a chance to win.
— Luka is an absolutely non-random person in Belarusian politics. First, the Russian Empire worked on the Belarusian society, and then the communists, for more than 200 years they emasculated the Belarusian people to a very low self-consciousness and national culture. When they started promising things like “we will now return the Soviet Union back to you”, “we will launch all the factories and restore broken ties”, the Soviet Belarusians believed this.
— That is, for them, Russia was a return to Soviet history.
— As they say in Odesa, “to stuff everything back in the back”. To return to what it used to be: cheap vodka, sausage.
— I was in Belarus last year. Witnessed more or less official conversations. Clearly, I saw the facade part. It’s natural. But in conversations, even among official people, the impression was that out of five Belarusians, four are for Belarus, and one is for Russia. Still, 80% of people support Belarus without Russia. With a red flag, with a white-red-white flag, but nevertheless — not under the Russian flag. What is Putin counting on? Tomorrow, for example, Lukashenka is either swept away, or it happened as a result of his army entering the territory of Ukraine. Tomorrow Lukashenka is gone, Putin’s troops are coming in, placing their puppet, will Belarus rise?
— I would like to make it more understandable for the Ukrainian audience. Raising Belarus in the current conditions is the same thing as saying: will the Kherson or Melitopol region rise now? Or Donbas? Will the people of Donetsk take to the streets?
— It’s a little more complicated with the Donbas, but in Kherson, I’m sure they won’t rise, and they won’t rise precisely because they are not prepared for this. Everything happened very quickly, first of all. And secondly, I am sure that the vast majority of people think that today’s situation will not last long, and expect the Ukrainian army to liberate these lands. In Belarus, there is no one to liberate them, except for Belarusians themselves.
— And that’s why we’re here, and we’ve organized ourselves into a national force. This is one of our tasks. We understand this very well. And we want the Ukrainian top military and political leadership to finally understand this. Because, say, in the steppes of the Kherson region there is someone to fight, and who then will have to restore order in Belarus — this is our internal affair. We think that we will find a consensus with Ukrainian statesmen who will give us a pass in this direction.
Replying to your remark, if he enters here, it will speed things up a lot. Now it is clear that Ukraine, already having a huge front, does not want to get another 300 kilometers in the north. And if the Belarusian army enters here, this is a green light for action.
— Can it happen?
— It will happen for sure. In the near future, I think. Maybe in a month or two. And it will happen regardless of whether Lukashenka is physically alive by this time or not. Either he will be beaten to the point that he will give the order, or the order will be given for him, for example, by General Volfovich, who now holds the post of State Secretary of the Security Council. Putin, as a result of a special operation in 2020, forced Lukashenka to accept some kind of constitutional amendment, where in the event of the sudden disappearance or death of the head of state, the head of the Security Council becomes acting. The head of the Security Council is an open rag-tag, “Russian world” adherent General Volfovich.
— They always have a B plan, and Luka knows it. And he knows that it is easier to remove him than …
— Of course.
“Lukashenka’s most ardent soldiers are thinking how not to return in bags”
An interview with the Kastus Kalinouski battalion commander Dzianis ‘Kit’ Prokharau.
— Dzianis, welcome to the Different People show. What is this war for you?
— For Belarusians, this is a principled war. First of all, because when you are helping the Ukrainian people cope with the Putin regime, with Russian aggression, and as a result, there is a vacillation, an imbalance in the Lukashenka regime, because it directly depends on the Putin regime. And in the end there is hope for a free Belarus, for a new history of the Belarusian people, a separate state with the right history.
— Your colleague, talking to us, said that according to his forecasts, the invasion of the Belarusian army will take place within the next few months. To what extent do you share this point of view?
— We are already seeing that the Republic of Belarus is being used as a territory for launching missile strikes from there. My opinion is that, most likely, there will be no offensive itself, but if it does happen, then the morale and motivation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in general, those who want to go to war against Ukraine, remain at a very low level, and the most ardent Belarusian soldiers who once wanted to do something like this, are now already thinking about how not to become the first batch and not come back in bags.
— You said “pro-regime people”, that is, people who support the Lukashenka regime and are satisfied with everything in today’s Belarus. And how many are there today?
— If we take not the military, but just people, then I think that 20% of people do not want to change anything. I won’t say they support all this, but they don’t want to change anything. Some other part of the people are simply afraid to speak, so they don’t say anything against it. All the rest, a very large part: imprisoned, raped, killed, many left. More or less like this. If we are talking about the military, I do not think that there are any ardent adherents of the regime in terms of ideology at the officer positions. They may have been promised some kind of rosy future life until the grave.
Instructor ‘Harley’: My fighters must know how to use modern weapons
A conversation with ‘Harley’, the instructor of the Kalinouski regiment.
— So you are the very NATO instructor who scared the Russians, who trains our fighters, in particular, the regiment of Kastus Kalinouski.
— At the moment, I teach small groups tactics and fitness conditioning. Because people come to me already in combat groups that are training, they have to pass a physical test with me and it is very, very difficult.
— Are you a former military man?
— Or is there no such concept as a former military man?
— I think I would still fight.
— But you don’t have to fight here?
— There will be more opportunities, but now we are just so involved in the educational process that I have to be here, because those guys who are now at the forefront need knowledge, and these people should go there already prepared.
— Tell me, is it possible now to assess the level of practical training of NATO specialists and what they are armed with today, in tactical terms, and the post-Soviet armies, like the Russian one. How different are they?
— I probably can’t say much about the Russian army, because all my experience was not with the Russian army, but it was a war with real terrorists. I haven’t seen them live yet, but I think I will. And as for these guys who are here, they still need to catch up to reach the NATO level, there’s a lot to do. This is what I am doing now. One of the aspects of my work is that they are not only well trained, but are also able to use modern weapons, modern weapon attachments, and so on, because they don’t have much knowledge in this. For example, working at night also requires many skills.
Another instructor joined the conversation.
— Instructor ‘Grandad’, what is your story?
— 20 years of service in the special operations unit to combat terrorism. This is a police unit. Almost all the crime of the 90s, all the explosions, showdowns. Detentions were carried out by our unit. And 10 years of border service. The last specialization is border intelligence and technical intelligence.
— And you were introduced as a sapper. Is that also true?
— Yes, I’m here as a sapper. Because the second part of my specialization is not so relevant here, since I had to work with wiretaps, with a surveillance system, install cameras and all that. And from this you understand how radio blasting systems work, how to scan, how a person can be located by phone. For me, there are no questions, for the guys — it’s a lot of mysteries: why so, why that way.
— And you are good at it too.
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: Lukashenka’s last order will be an order to invade Ukraine
— We can assume that the conditional Russian soldier was fed with this shit about the “evil Bandera guys”, about “Donbas was bombed” for a very long time. Meanwhile, Belarusians don’t have such claims, and no one really incited them against the Ukrainians, as it was in Russia. How can you assume that a Belarusian soldier will go here, realizing that he will have to pull the trigger?
— Do not forget that all these years we have been existing in the paradigm of the Russian information space. All these “Solovyovs”, “Kiselyovs” are shown daily on Belarusian TV screens.
— And there is also your Azaronak.
— There are also local Zhirinovsky-style clowns. Unfortunately, they are doing their job. When I was leaving in 2014, I heard it all around — in trolleybuses, in the subway: “What else do these Ukrainians need there? The Right sector. Yarosh. The Russian missiles and warships will put things in order there.” It was 2014.
Now, of course, after our comrades and society have watched YouTube videos of how the columns near Kyiv were smashed, the ardor has subsided. But in Ukraine, it seems to me, there is an underestimation of the most combat-ready part of the Belarusian army — these are the Special Operations Forces and all kinds of special forces of Lukashenka. They can put them together and it will be about five thousand. These are highly professional fighters, partially armed with Western weapons, Western equipment. This is not the Soviet army, not even the Russian one. No matter what, Luka, sitting on bayonets in recent years, understood this very well.
— Such is Lukashenka’s guard.
— Those are his Praetorians. By the way, they took part in the suppression of the 2020 protests. They were transferred by helicopters from city to city. There was a famous case where an officer of the 5th Brigade shot a protester in the back of the head in Brest.
— So they don’t have any boundaries?
— Yes, but you do understand that this is before the first “cargoes 200”. They are zealous, but they were deceived, the political officers brainwashed all of them properly. But when the “200s”, “300s” begin, the ardor will immediately decrease.
— Okay, the ardor will decrease, and what to do next? In Russia, in Buryatia, there is a place to hide away. Is there a place to hide in Belarus?
— Nowhere, it’s a small country. I will guess how events will develop. Lukashenka’s last order will be an order to invade Ukraine. This is where Lukashenka ends.
— He will definitely arrange it in such a way that this is a necessary measure, and 100% there will be some kind of provocation, moreover, these provocations can be done by the Russians themselves. They will launch a strike on Belarus, and then show it on all the “Solovyov-like media”.
— Recently, everyone in Ukraine witnessed when rocket fire was launched from the air territory of Belarus. Their Tu-22 entered the territory of Belarus and launched a missile strike. They then fired about 50 missiles. There were numerous flights. A well-known meme, everyone knows “where the attack was being prepared from”. He talks about this periodically for more than a year. In Ukraine, there is simply little guidance on the Belarusian agenda. “Banderites, rattling near the border” and “some tons of weapons”.
— And some people actually believe it.
— No, no one believes Belarusian television and propaganda.
— Ordinary people, they understand everything. Firstly, Ukraine is also small compared to Russia, and secondly, why did Ukraine attack Belarus? There is no logic in this. No incentive, no purpose.
We, normal, logically thinking people understand this. But some Russians believe that “if they hadn’t attacked, they would have attacked us”. Some may believe, but these are outcasts, an absolute minuscule. In every military structure there are people who, for various reasons, want to take part in the war.
— And what goals can be set and solved by the Belarusian army? In my opinion, this is, of course, what you are talking about — to tie up Ukrainian forces, and secondly, to block the road to the West and, in general, that’s enough.
— Something like this, more or less. It is clear that this will be a combined operation together with the Russians. Some will press from the north, while others will resolve their issues in the south, in the area of Kharkiv, Lysychansk. The goal is to sow chaos and panic. Some 10 million refugees have already left Ukraine, why not set another wave. Another task is to minimally cut the supply road along the Korosten and Kyiv-Sarny lines. Another road, but it is already far away — Lviv, Rivne, Zhytomyr. They can also set such a task for them.
— You can always try to drive in a couple of wedges there. But, I think that our team keeps this situation under control and, of course, we are confidently ready to meet them. But here’s the question. I’m sure you’ve been asked this multiple times. They will go, and at this time you will find yourself in the same place.
— Excellent. This is what we are asking for from the command of Ukraine. To finally put us in that direction. It will be a “hello” from the free Syrian army, only it will be the free Belarusian army.
— Isn’t there a conflict of interest? Since you will have to shoot at Belarusians.
— The Belarusians who will want to go here to fight are Belarusians only by passport. What is Belarusian about them if they operate under the direct subordination of Putin and his strategy of destroying Ukraine? Well, everyone saw what happened in Bucha, in Irpin. It was thanks to Lukashenka that there was a breakthrough. And on good Belarusian roads, which were highly praised in Ukraine until recently, by the way, like Lukashenka himself. I know that in terms of popularity he was ranked first among foreign politicians in Ukraine. I’ve just been living here for a long time and have heard many times: “We need your Batak to put things in order here.” I have heard this many times. But I repeat: this will be Lukashenka’s last order. Part of the army will be demoralized, refuse to follow the order, part will scatter, part will go over to our side.
Dzianis ‘Kit’ Prokharau: Kalinouski regiment fighters will be the first to destroy the traitors of Belarus
— We had an interview with Tanya Martynova, you probably know her. She came up with the following idea: “Do you know what the Belarusians are interested in? So that the troops really enter. Because they are well aware that the Ukrainians will crush them here, and this means that Lukashenka will lose the protection of the army.” To what extent do you agree with this opinion?
— Even if they enter, the Kalinovites will be the first to run headlong and destroy all these traitors to my homeland Belarus.
Firstly, I do not regard all those who go to Ukraine as Belarusians. You need to understand that these are not Belarusians, but regime officers. They are more citizens of the Russian Federation than of the Republic of Belarus.
All those who want to run away, surrender, sabotage this movement — it’s all clear with them. All the rest will be regarded as the army of the Russian Federation and a direct enemy of Ukraine. We will be the first to defend Ukraine from them, because there is a moral side, there will be a queue behind us. And, of course, when we break this vaunted power of the Lukashenka regime, it will show the people the true face of these henchmen.
They will be defeated, crushed, turn into “meat”, and the regime will definitely weaken. Thanks to this, the people of Belarus will rise up inside and begin to act, begin to rebel, feel their strength, feel the weakness of the regime.
— But won’t it happen that if the regime is weakened and a significant part of the Belarusian army is destroyed, Russia will take advantage of this and occupy Belarus even more densely, install its own puppet president? Or just enter and stay forever.
— During the 30 years of Lukashenka’s regime, Belarus has lost its identity. The Lukashenka regime has made every effort to ensure that the Belarusians are considered, let’s say, a part of Russia. Unfortunately, this is so. In fact, Belarus has already been captured.
Put their army there? There was already information that Russian officers were put into the regular army of the Republic of Belarus. They have simply replaced the Belarusian officers with the Russian ones, and the commands are now given directly from the Russian Federation. He does not need to do all these sophisticated twists, like changing the army completely. What for? He just puts in Russian officers, and they give orders. That is why I say that it is very important to first destroy the Putin regime, the regime itself. I’m not talking about specific individuals. It is important that the regime fall. And the regime will fall when an understanding of what is what starts in the minds of the people. Then the regime will begin to collapse. It is the same with the Lukashenka regime. Removing one person will not change anything, because another will come to replace him.
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: The Belarusian military is ready to go over to the side of Ukraine with entire units
— Can you assess the level of readiness, in the event of such a last order from Lukashenka, to go in and take power by force? Without giving out practical details, of course. Do some forces capable of this exist today, and do they have such readiness?
— If we are talking about civil society, then it is now completely underground and defeated after the repression of 2020, which is still ongoing.
— It is clear that this force must come from outside. The Belarusian force that will have to come from outside.
— If we are talking about us volunteers. But now I won’t even say that it will be from the territory of Ukraine.
— Poland, Lithuania?
I won’t provoke. We have extensive borders around the perimeter. In principle, we can serve as a trigger. I’m not saying that we have enough resources.
We are not going to fight there with all the power structures of Belarus. What for? They are all normal men for the most part, and will make the right choice at the right time.
— Do you have communication today with those healthy forces of Belarus, including the security forces and the military, in case you have to resolve such issues with them?
— Of course, we have hundreds of guys in our regiment who have relatives, acquaintances, and friends. Some of them are even currently serving in the law-enforcement agencies. We have communication, we have understanding, even their alignment of forces and means in Belarus.
We constantly monitor this information and help our fellow Ukrainians with it.
I’ll tell you the real story now. There were some connections with the guys who said that if they were recruited into the Belarusian combat-ready army, they, the reserve officers, were ready to side with Ukraine, with their whole unit. They wanted only explanations on how to do it technically and correctly.
— Are you ready to help them do it right?
— Certainly, we are ready. We have specific instructions. We’ll announce them shortly.
— I am sure that there are a large number of volunteers who would be ready to join your unit, and possibly create some of their own. It exists and I can even assume that it is growing. Tell me please, is there a feeling of such a flow and is there a mechanism for how to take these guys here?
— There are many times more people wishing to join the unit than we have currently. The main problem is that there is no legal way to get to Ukraine. All the guys who came to us, the vast majority, came through Europe. In our Warsaw in “Belorussian house” mobilization center and there our volunteer, who earlier was our fighter on Donbas. All Belarusians come through Warsaw. But we know that there is a very large stratum, we call it the ‘force reserve’, guys who will join us as soon as active operations begin in Belarus.
— What is your status here?
— Now we are military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Officially under our contracts. Are the contracts designed for foreigners? Did the contracts design for foreigners?
Instructor ‘Harley’: If I see that a person is not suitable for the team, then I immediately qualified this person in a completely different way
— How do the guys generally train? How do you estimate their readiness? I understand that there are not only former military men and athletes here.
— Yes, many civilians. I understand that too, but I can’t make any exception for them.
— You don’t have special programs for beginners, do you?
— No, they still go through training together. If I see that a person is not suitable for the team, then I immediately qualify this person in a completely different way. What do I like? That the guys understood how it all goes. Because I’ve seen before that they don’t understand at all. They support that I work in this direction. This means that they must understand that without a team it is impossible to fight on the battlefield.
— Are they trained to organize in small groups, help each other, supDo they go through training on how to work in small groups, help each other, support and solve problems?
— Yes, we even have special psychology lessons. And they even meditate. That is, we are going to a very high level, and I understand that they are now going to war, and not showing videos somewhere, as they know how to do it.
Instructor ‘Grandad’: My main specialization is explosives. After all, I am more of an explosives engineer by profession, and it was here that I came as an explosives technician to teach the guys how to find dangerous objects. Every demining differs. Basically, TNT is the most common thing for all homemade bombs.
— Do our enemies mainly use some kind of standard mines and explosive devices, or do they also invent them?
— Where there are ‘partisans’, as I call them, who are reservists, there are no such things, they use standard ones. They have a completely different goal: they drank, sat down, and departed, perhaps they are lucky, perhaps they are not lucky. On the locations of special forces or specialists, who have a slightly higher level, then yes, you can find anything there.
The only thing that somehow consoles me is that everything that is done mechanically works well, electronics, radio-controlled things and mines, and special mines, but the rest is mediocre. Electronics lie in warehouses for many years. Batteries are specialized, you can’t go and buy them. And when they lie for 15-20 years, they can no longer be used. They do not have specialists who can remove and change. In addition, these batteries are not interchangeable.
— That is, their mess is to our advantage.
— Yes, it is.
— God grant that it be so.
We are armed according to all NATO standards
— I managed to observe how the new military equipment works, which today they have already begun to supply to us and which, as they say, terrifies the ruscists. All the systems: Do you mean the HIMARS and others?
Dzianis ‘Whale’ Prokharau: – HIMARS – yes, we heard. But unfortunately, I personally didn’t see how they worked. But I think we’ll hear about their successful use. Secondly, we worked with the guys on Sector D and there are artillery systems that work well on the orcs and perform tasks at the highest level. The NLAWs and Stingers are just a standard set for every fighter. We are armed according to all NATO standards at the highest level.
— Each of your fighters must have at least three specializations. Why?
Instructor ‘Harley’: — Because we must have a reserve so that they can change each other in the group. That is, if we know that we have lost our medic, I should know that there is a second person in the group who can replace him. If we lose the commander, someone has to replace him, too. If we lose the sapper, we must have a person to replace him. Therefore, we have at least three professions for each operator in a group.
— Is there a specialisation that all must have?
Instructor ‘Harley’: — It is medicine and shooting skills. I want to explain very simply: first a good warrior, and then specialities. For some reason, everyone here thinks that first a speciality, then a warrior.
— That is, if you shoot well, then you may not be able to pull up or do push-ups?
Instructor ‘Harley’: – It is vice versa. First, you must be a good warrior, then you will only become some kind of specialist.
— Do you mean being a universal soldier in the first place?
Instructor ‘Harley’: — Yes, I will explain in a very simple way. I can explain easily as I am an instructor. Let’s imagine a super-surgeon from the best Ukrainian hospital. Tell me please, what will the surgeon do here? Yes, he will treat, but I will not run after him.
— So, it is better to take wounded people to him, you can’t take him to the front line.
Instructor ‘Harley’: Yes, we can take wounded people to his hospital, God forbid, but we will take them to him. Here I need a good warrior, physically and psychologically well prepared and with a head. Then it is already possible to attach these professions to him. I always consult with our instructors and even with doctors, I ask: can you give me a medic, whom you would prepare for me in a combat group? If a medic says that I can give you such a person, it means that he saw something in him. This is his speciality. Then I take him, look at him and train him specifically so that he works both as a paramedic and together with his group.
— The important moment for me would be: to pull the trigger, if it is somewhere far, it is one story. You somehow specifically prepare that they will have to stab or shoot a person who is directly in eye contact. It’s still a very strong psychological barrier.
Instructor ‘Harley’: — We are on the way. They don’t know if they’re ready or not until they actually get their first contact. I am sometimes asked the most stupid questions “how did you kill the first person?” or “how many people have you killed?” is like asking the question “how much money do you make?” He is so irrelevant.
Everyone will go through the first contact. And then I’ll see how one can work or can’t. And today a psychotherapist came to us. It’s a pity that he is not a military man, but a professional. And my first question was: “Have you been there? Do you understand what it is?
It is very easy to talk, but it is very difficult to prepare for this business. Everything will depend on the atmosphere in a team. If there is a good atmosphere in the team, one will understand that he just needs to get together and work again. Because we’ve all come and we’ve all gone. This is the most important goal and the task of my groups.
Instructor ‘Grandad’: — Also, here the guys do not immediately rush into battle, they are gradually introduced to this. The second position, then to the trenches, gradually. If there is any problem, then they will already be excluded during this time. The same stoppers, the same fears and so on. They are already being filtered on the front line by the time they reach the exit to the ‘grey zone’ or before serious intelligence operations.
— Look, we’ve talked to the Georgian division. We met with them when they were at farewell with some of their guys. There was a memorial service in the St Volodymyr’s Cathedral and then the bodies of the dead were taken to Georgia, that is, they were taken by land. Is it possible to bury a dead Belarusian volunteer at home in Belarus?
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: — This is quite complicated. Even the border between Belarus and Ukraine cannot be crossed now. The guys who died earlier were buried in Belarus. My brother in arms, we were with him in battle in 2015, Ales Cherkashyn was buried in Brest. I don’t want to talk even now, because if I now tell one fact about our fighter, then his grave can simply be desecrated, as they desecrated the same with the grave of Mikhail Zhyzneuski, who died on the Maidan, one of the first in Ukraine. That’s why this topic is a kind of taboo.
The training ground of the fighters of the Belarusian regiment in the frames may seem a little childish. An interview with ‘Harley’, a combat and tactical instructor, could have been like discussing a Hollywood action movie script. But the reality is ruthless and the war takes away our best brothers in arms who protect us from the Russian invasion. Unfortunately, already during the editing of the story, the information about the death of Ivan Marchuk, call sign ‘Brest’, the Volat Battalion commander of the Kastus Kalinouski Regiment, was confirmed. He died heroically near Lysychansk, holding a column of Russian troops, and five more fighters of the regiment were missing while their search continued. Eternal memory and eternal honour to the true sons of Belarus and Ukraine.
‘Brest’ has always said that the greatest respect for the memory of the dead is to continue their work.
— Some of your guys were captured.
Dzianis ‘Whale’ Prokharau: — Two people.
— Is it possible to return them?
Dzianis ‘Whale’ Prokharau: We submitted the lists. They are already on the exchange list. However, we are doing our best to watch the progress of these lists, because we must understand that the lists are quite large.
— Tell me please about that fight.
Jan ‘Belarus’ Melnikau: — Firstly, I would like to say at the beginning that we still cannot, despite the fact that people are already in captivity and information has come out, tell about this fight in detail. The specifics of that area and the conditions of protracted battles developed in such a way that it was on this sector of the front, at the moment when all attention was riveted to Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk. The Russians gathered their forces in one place, which outnumbered ours.
Also, you must understand that Ukraine, unlike Russia, does not fight with ‘meat’. Russia simply threw bodies at the front, while Ukraine took care of its soldiers, and everything turned out that way. Due to the fact that they were able to pass and take a certain section of the front and were already approaching the Bakhmut highway, it was necessary to hold them back in order to successfully withdraw people from Lysychansk and from the nearest villages.
The situation was as follows: the guys had more reconnaissance than combat tasks, and they collided with the enemy’s manpower and inflicted huge damage on him. There was one lightly wounded fighter from our side and a lot of ‘200s’, and ‘300s’ enemies after an hour and a half battle.
At that moment, the enemies were able to use the advantage in technology and cut off our guys from one flank and also attack them with superior forces.
They had an infantry group on a reconnaissance mission. They had no task to stop a convoy. They had anti-tank weapons, they were able to knock out, it is known for certain, we can talk about this with one tank, and engage the battle. Then the second tank fired at them. ‘Brest’ was wounded in the head with a high-explosive fragmentation projectile, as we assume, both legs were also injured. A severe wound did not allow him to move or quickly get him out of there with the number of people that were in that particular group.
With one of the fighters, there was a radio link, but he could not give us their location. He stayed with them, Jan ‘Trombley’. You might see him on the interrogation videos. Jan stayed with the guys until the very end, he did not want to leave them, and I am really overwhelmed with pride that I had the honour to be next to such brave fighters.
The guys did not retreat, they accepted the battle, and they immediately had the opportunity to retreat after the shooting contact. They were able to give battle to one column and it retreated, losing a couple of vehicles, taking the wounded and taking the dead. They were able to point our Ukrainian artillery at the second column. It consisted only of tanks that moved, one might say, in one square, not in a column, but in one group. Of the eight tanks of this group, only two were able to retreat. The guys, at the cost of their lives and being captured, were able to stop the breakthrough on that particular sector of the front.
— Could you please tell us a few words about ‘Brest’. What kind of person was he?
Jan ‘Belarus’ Melnikau: — I will say only one thing. He was a man of great energy. I envied him. I experienced burnout a month or more after the start of the war. He fed with his energy. We were in good relations with Vania ‘Brest’ long before the war. In 2021, we carried out political actions, and created banners dedicated to certain events together with him, our Belarusians, former participants in the Anti-Terrorist Operation and special operations and military operations. We united the diaspora around the idea that we should be organized here and declare ourselves. This man was a generator of ideas, the center of the company, who could gather ideologically close fellows around him. He also was one of the central people for the Kyiv diaspora actions. He is one of those people who created the Kalinouski Regiment and who took on significant work on its structure and development, even on the training of the first fighters who came to us.
— How did your fellows react to Ivan’s death? What is more, the desire for revenge or the bitterness of the loss? Maybe, this did somehow demoralize someone or not? What was the reaction?
Jan ‘Belarus’ Melnikau: — Psychologically, it is definitely hard. Especially for young people who came and knew ‘Brest’ as a media person. They understood that Vania was the person who first goes into battle and leads from the conversations with him. He was not just giving orders: “Go and do it!”. He used to say: “Follow me!” Here was such a person. Of course, the loss of such a person affects the morale and psychological stance of people. But most importantly, Vanшa always had been saying that the greatest respect for the memory of the dead is to continue the work they started, which they did not have time to finish during their lifetime. That is our duty and our obligation: to continue the work they started. We are now obliged to Vania to continue and consolidate the development he started.
When will Ukraine and free Belarus win?
Instructor ‘Harley’: — You won’t believe it, I get asked this probably 20 times a day.
— You are an instructor. Who else can answer? You are ‘moms’.
It’s hard to object. As you can see, now there is no time, to be honest, even to see what is going on at the front, where the positions are. When you have time, you can sit down and take a look. Ones advanced somewhere, then others. This is the positional element of the war. Western heavy weapons are coming. How many more weapons and ammunition will come? Will people be able to use it? If everything is done correctly, then the turning point of the war in favour of Ukraine may come by the end of summer or autumn.
— Do you mean that we have enough people and motivation, but today we lack serious military equipment?
— Yes, we do.
— What prediction would you give if you entered a conditionally meditative state? How do you feel, how far will we advance?
If we reach a high professional level, then, I think, we will be able to expel everyone from here on our own.
— Well, what are the predictions? I understand that this is an ungrateful thing, but we see that the turning point has not yet come. Will it happen in the near future and how exactly will it happen? Will the ruscists get tired or will we get weapons? What is required for this turning point to occur and for us to turn in the other direction?
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: — Heavy weapons should arrive, mainly artillery. We also need armoured vehicles for the offensive. But until there is at least artillery, we will not break through. Today, the status quo is in effect. Unfortunately, Ukraine has a well-known problem: there are few artillery systems. There is not enough ammunition for the existing artillery systems. They respond to one of our shells with five to ten of their own. Sooner or later they will destroy all fortifications, structures, and everything, despite all the courage of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
— Napoleon, I think, said that victory is on the side of the big battalions.
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: — Yes, that’s what he said.
— That is, so far.
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: – Now there is the war of artillery. Both sides use aircraft to a very limited extent. In Ukraine, of course, there is simply not enough of it due to anti-aircraft defence, this is another of their strategic mistakes. They were mistaken, they thought that the Ukrainian air defence did not hit them.
— They ran into and suffered significant losses.
— There were air battles over Kyiv in the first month. Now there are no aircraft at all. They fire missiles from afar, bypassing the air defence zone. Our guys participated in the operation in the Kherson axis, in the area of Davydiv Brid, and they do very technically there, just a few seconds in the field of view so that MANPADS are worked out on them. Their helicopters and aircraft appear to leave immediately.
We will help the people of Belarus to remove the moustachioed Fuhrer as soon as possible. After all, Ukraine has every right, both legal and moral, to strike back at Belarus. Actually, I understand why Ukraine does not do this. Firstly, there are insufficient forces for everything, and secondly, there is some hope that it will still carry. Unfortunately, my forecast is that they will press him enough finally.
— When can this happen?
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: — I believe in the near future, maybe — a month or two. He will not be able to escape it for a long time. There was the last meeting with Putin, where they had already agreed on something. There is an agreement. We have disturbing information also. They are closing the border areas there and there is a ban on visiting the forests. But the most significant sign of an impending offensive is the mobilization of doctors, that is, they are already preparing hospitals. The last step is the deployment of hospitals. It is clear that they are trying to do all this secretly, so as not to give trump cards to the Ukrainians. But your guys are keeping their eyes on all this and know that preparations are underway.
— Thank you very much. Wish you and your guys good health, because you are already our guys. I don’t think we should be separated at all. Let’s win!
Vadzim ‘Ihar’ Kabanchuk: Thank you! Together we will win!
Appeal to Belarusians by Vadzim Kabanchuk:
— Belarusians, the illegitimate criminal Lukashenka, in order to please his Moscow feudal lord Putin, decided to throw the Belarusian army against Ukraine. I address first of all to the military of the Republic of Belarus. Guys, it is better not to enter here. This is not your war. Think about the consequences. A real free army is now being formed in Ukraine. We will become a normal part of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, a normal country without the dictator. Mothers, brothers, sisters, think of your sons and brothers. Now the biggest crime is being prepared for the entire time of Lukashenka’s rule. Look what he brought Belarusians to. We are real Belarusians, we are real Ukrainians, we are real brothers. We have always been and will remain. We will always find a common language.
— Do you have political ambitions in the new Belarus you will get?
Dzianis ‘Whale’ Prokharau: — There is no revolution without politics. We discussed this issue with our staff at the beginning of the creation of the battalion, the regiment actually. It is about creating a political party.
— The most important thing is the high morale and fighting spirit of all Ukrainian soldiers and your unit. Thank you again. I don’t know what your brothers wish, but I would very much like you to appear in our program more than once. I wish you all to survive and remain safe and sound.
Dzianis ‘Whale’ Prokharau: — I want to thank you, all those who publicize the war, because there is a small problem that people have the idea that everything is over. While in Kyiv it is hard to imagine what is happening at the front. Therefore, such broadcasts are very important, and in general, all media work is very important. Thank you.