Washington, 23.9. Ivanna, Daria and Andriana have been fighting in the Ukrainian ranks against Russia for seven months. They are confident that they will win the war, but in return they are asking for more help from the United States, and they need it before winter.
“Of course we will win,” said Sergeant Andriana Arekhta, 34, who along with six other colleagues visited Washington to meet with US authorities.
“We can slowly win without the support of the United States and other countries, but it will cost us many losses of children, women, civilians and soldiers. Or we can win much faster. That’s why we’re here,” he explained.
The Joe Biden administration has shipped around $15.2 billion worth of arms to the Kiev executive branch, most of it since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The fighters are optimistic after the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, which has gained a foothold against the Russians in western and southern Ukraine in recent weeks, but warn that without help, things can go wrong.
“It’s a critical moment because we need weapons to liberate the south because there are a lot of Russian machines like tanks. We’re running out of time, winter is coming and we have to do it before the cold sets in.” explains Andriana.
Daria, 35, of the Sniper Corps, adds that when Russia “loses on the battlefield, it starts attacking civilians,” citing as an example an attack on a power plant that left parts of the region without power.
The winter in his country is “extremely cold”, temperatures could drop to -20 degrees, which is why power outages caused by Russian attacks are worrying: “People without heating will have great problems surviving,” he warns.
This woman, who joined the armed forces in 2014, the year the war with pro-Russians in Donbass began, is asking Washington for more anti-aircraft defenses to fend off Russian cruise missiles that “can reach any point on Ukrainian territory.” .
“They can reach any city in western or northern Ukraine and we have no way of responding. We can stop some of these missiles, but not all,” he admits.
A terrorist state
Combatants consistently insist that Russia is a state “terrorist sponsor,” a category the United States uses to classify and sanction Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria, but Moscow excludes for now.
“We know that Russia promotes terrorism and its soldiers are also terrorists,” says Ivanna Chobaniuk, 29, head of a front-line medical unit.
This woman claims to have saved the life of an eight-year-old girl who was injured by the impact of a cluster bomb, a weapon banned by international conventions, showing that the Russian armed forces “have no moral standards,” she says.
Among several examples of possible war crimes, Daria recalls that the Russians bombed a theater in Mariúpol, even though it was pointed out that refugee children were inside.
“We will not negotiate (with Russia) because they torture and rape our population. We cannot talk to them. They bomb our cities, hospitals and kindergartens. Why are they bombing kindergartens?” cries Andriana, mother of a five-year-old .
This soldier, stationed in the Lugansk region, also denounced that the Russian army in the occupied territories of Ukraine is separating families in “concentration camps” and sending the children to Russia.
YOU ARE THE NAZIS
Putin has accused Ukrainian authorities of being “neo-Nazis” and pursuing pro-Russians in western Ukraine to justify their military offensive, in what the soldiers see as “propaganda”.
“They are the Nazis. They are Nazis because they want our nation as if it didn’t exist. What they are doing to our population is the example of the Nazis,” Daria replies.
The sniper goes on to argue that Ukraine is “a very democratic, civilized and open-minded society.”
One of the images that most struck him as the war progressed was the prams left behind by families to cross the river during the evacuation of Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s like for people who’ve had normal lives to have to run away from home. It’s an image I don’t think I’ll forget,” she says excitedly.
Regarding the role of women in the Ukrainian armed forces, Ivanna assures that they fight “on an equal footing” with men, giving the example of her partner Andriana, who “knows how to drive a tank, how to shoot a stinger and other methods “.
“We learned and we do it side by side with men,” he concludes.
Eduard Ribas i Admetlla