Translated from Ukrainian via Google and OFP
Aleksey Kashporovsky, a journalist who has worked for many publications, has been a war correspondent for the Ukraina TV channel for the past seven years. On February 24, he joined the Kyiv TRO, together with volunteers went to the front. He liberated the Kharkiv region, now he is fighting in the Donbass.
What is happening at the front now, whether our fighters are waiting for an offensive, what they think in the liberated territories – OBOZREVATEL talked about this with Alexei.
The publication was prepared on the initiative of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
– Alexey, until February 24 you were a journalist. In what publications did you work and were you a war correspondent?
– I started working on Novy Kanal in 1998, then I worked in various online publications, production studios, made programs for 1 + 1, and Inter. From 15 to 22 [2015-2022], I worked on the Ukraina channel as a war correspondent, covering what was happening in the east, the Russian-Ukrainian war, although it was not called that at that time.
– Can you remember the first day of the invasion, February 24? How was it for you?
– My wife woke me up in the morning, said that the invasion had begun. I got dressed and went to work. There were already a few people there, most of them were trying to leave. We followed the news, even then the “marathon” was running. At lunchtime, I already saw that an armed landing had taken place in Gostomel, in fact, on the border with Kyiv. We were told to go home and work from there. I decided that there would be no work, that I would be more useful in the army. And I went to the military office. They said: go to the TPO [TRO – Territorial Defense Force]. Nobody understood then. And the next day I was already in TPO.
Did you have military experience before that?
– I served military service, it was back in 1994. That’s all my military experience, and there was no combat experience at all. When I worked as a war correspondent, I got into different situations, but this is not combat experience, it just got into bad situations.
– You went to the Kiev TRO, but how did you end up at the front?
– I am still in the TRO, but seconded to another unit in the Donbass.
– Who do you serve?
– I am a press officer of one of the units, one might say, I work in my specialty.
– How did the family react to the fact that you went to the TRO, then to the front?
– My wife knew that it would do so, she did not expect anything else. Of course, she was worried, and the children and parents too.
– Where did you have to serve during this time, as almost a year has passed?
– Part of the spring and until the middle of summer, my unit took part in the liberation of the Kharkiv region. We held defenses in the north of Kharkov region on the border with Russia. And after that I was seconded to the Donbass, and I am here since that time.
– I was flipping through your Facebook page, and you have such a “diary of a war criminal.” Some Russian soldier who came to Ukraine from the first days of the invasion and kept a diary. His unit was in the Kiev region, where they committed their crimes. What is your impression of reading this diary? What’s going on with this soldier?
“There were a few things that surprised me. First, illiteracy. People who reproach us that we are persecuting the Russian language, do not allow us to communicate in it here, but in fact they [orcs] know this language worse than Ukrainians. I won’t say that this is a well-educated person, but he probably read books. His mood changes very noticeably with each page. He understands the futility of war. But for him, it is work, he follows orders and does not think. He doesn’t like his officers, he values his friends. But it does not occur to him why this war is being waged. He just wants to earn money. He hopes that the contract will end, and he will go home, get married, have children and everything will be fine with him.
I once read something similar, memoirs of fighters of the first and second Chechen wars. I understand that nothing much has changed in Russia since that time.
– You have not determined in which village near Kyiv this soldier was?
– No, unfortunately I didn’t. None of those who understand these data contacted me. There were guys from some program, I offered them whatever they want – take it and use it. But they didn’t tell me about the results, whether it was possible to find out something, I don’t know yet.
– Did you have to deal with collaborators, traitors in the liberated territories, are there many of them there?
– I will not say that I had to deal with traitors. Rather, with people who are waiting for the “Russian world”. They do not openly talk about it, they say that they are all the same, they want peace. But this story surprises me. For example, a woman from Lyman, when there were still fighting going on there. She left with her child, but her husband stayed. The Russians took Lyman, and she immediately returned home through Russia. Then again the Ukrainians liberated Lyman, and she says: “Well, now you have won.” Not Ukraine, but “you”. It seems that they do not care who will be there, what flag. I can’t say that there are many of them, but they exist. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with them and how to deal with them.
– You remain a journalist at the front, you shoot videos with locals, you take interviews. Are you good at journalism?
“It rarely happens at this time. But when there were active hostilities to liberate the Kharkiv region, the Izyum operation, the liberation of Lyman, then I had to work in parallel with my main job, shoot something and tell about what was happening.
What do you think about the situation at the front? Do we now have enough forces, weapons, or is something missing?
– As the military say, the situation is difficult, but controllable. In fact, there is always a lack of weapons, ammunition, not enough people. There are people, motivated and not very much, but this is a war, and whether you like it or not, people die, get injured, they need to be exchanged. Even those who are alive and not injured, they also need to be rotated from time to time. A person cannot be in hell all the time. They need to rest.
“We have now been promised tanks. Do you think they will be able to turn the tide, or do we still need aircraft and long-range weapons?
I am not a tanker or a pilot. I think the more tanks and planes, the more weapons and people, the faster it will all end. It cannot last so long, either for us or for Russia. We are exhausting our resources, they are theirs, the question is who will not succumb first. There is an opportunity for us to get enough forces to start a counteroffensive and liberate the territories. The sooner this happens, the better.
– And what do people say at the front about the advance of the Russians from Belarus to Kyiv, to the western part of Ukraine. Now this topic is often discussed. What do the fighters think?
– It seems to me that this topic of the Russian offensive is discussed more in the rear than at the front. Fighters are interested in completely different things. They are interested in how to hold their positions, stay alive, how to contact relatives, how to relax, wash, elementary household items that you begin to appreciate in the war. The fact that an offensive is possible there, well, it is possible. Maybe the aliens are coming. It seems to me that they do not worry about this. I have not heard such talk. People are more concerned about what might happen to them here and now.
– As for the people, tell us who is fighting next to you, who were they before the war?
– People are different. I met very cool IT people here who earned good money. And big farmers, who could buy almost everything for themselves, also earned enough, they owned large agricultural enterprises. And met workers, and those who were unemployed. Those with whom I had to be at the front in the first months are people who came voluntarily. My company in the Kharkiv region – all were volunteers. At that time, the territory defense was not sent to the front line like that, only by agreement. Our company then fully agreed to go, no one even asked questions why and how.
“I think the more tanks and planes, the more weapons and people, the faster it will all end.”
Washington, Berlin, Paris … do you copy?
Berlin already refused to send planes, maybe to impress Lula, or because they don’t have any that will get airborne…
Maybe both reasons.
Zelensky should put them on the record like he did NATO. Just ask them, “Do you want Ukraine to win?” They watch them squirm and wallow around instead of answering the simple question.