07/06/2022
Yaroslav, Mitte, meldete sich, um an der Seite seiner Söhne zu kämpfen – Pavlo, links, und Nazar.

This is their first war together. First time as a soldier. When Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded their country, they went to the army as a family to enlist to fight.

Yaroslav Grandfather is 59 years old. One of his sons, Nizar, 34, has two sons. Another son, Buffalo, 26, has a daughter.

They left their wives and children to go to the front but asked to stay together in their battalion.

Jaroslav told CNN that fighting as a family and her family makes her job “very light and simple.”

“What can I say – we love our country and we will defend it to the end,” he said.

With nervous laughter, the men realized that it might not be so easy for those in the house, especially for Yaroslav’s wife, who had her husband and sons at risk.

“Mother should be worried about us,” said Nizar. “She is nervous. Our wives and children are also worried. But we are here anyway, we are defending our country.”

Officers say Russian forces are just over a mile away — not only within artillery range but also at risk of a sniper’s bullet. The trenches are located on agricultural land in the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea coast and in an area targeted by the Russians.

The force’s deputy commander, also known as Nazar, is only 37 years old. He said he lost four soldiers in an attack – it was his worst day of the war.

He served in the regular army and fought Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. When the invasion began, he also worked.

He said: “A cowardly enemy entered our country, our house, under cover of night, without declaring war, and began to bombard our cities and villages.”

“They went to Kyiv, broke through the suburbs of Bucha and Irpin. We have no other choice. We are defending our country. We did not enter someone else’s house. We are not Russians breaking into someone else’s house. We protect our families, our children, our parents.”

He said he was fighting to secure all of Ukraine, including the eastern regions now under Russian control and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

For now, he must limit his forces to hiding in narrow strips of trees bordering open and open spaces of farmland and grassland, and driving on dirt roads surrounded by bushes in search of shelter.

If he spends a lot of time in a village, he is afraid that this will give the Russians a reason to attack it.

According to a local resident named Anatoly, artillery shelling is already common in these villages near the front lines.

He said that his neighbor had been killed the previous day in an attack that destroyed his home.

But as he walked around the village where he had lived all his life, he said he saw no reason to leave now.

Asked about the Russian troops who were not far away, Anatoly was confident. “What can I say? They do bad things.”

In another village, far from the front lines, a woman named Tatiana Bozko told CNN what happened when Russian soldiers entered her village before they were pushed back by Ukrainian forces.

She said they took her husband, a former pro-Ukrainian teacher who worked in the village school. Bozko told CNN she believes some of her neighbors who support Russia have castrated her husband as invaders.

“Sergey was a very kind and wise man,” she said, the soul of every gathering. He was hated only by pro-Russian people.”

He was taken from her home and she never saw him again.

His body was found days later in a hole under a mattress. Someone in the village noticed a disfigured hand protruding and there were other signs of torture – bruises and what appeared to be cuts.

Tatiana Bozko said that her husband is a good and intelligent man.

“He was beaten up,” Bozko said, crying softly. “It looks like he was shot while he was alive. There were holes.”

Bozko, also a retired teacher in her 60s, lives with harrowing thoughts about her husband’s last moments. Three things comfort her: her son, her mother, who helps her to survive, and the Ukrainian army.

While telling CNN about her family, she pauses to record the deep rumbling sound of shells in the distance. Mortars are fired.

She now knows the difference between incoming and outgoing. She says and smiles Ukrainians against Russians. “I’m glad to hear that.”