The Adam consolidated tactical group is named after its commander, Donetsk airport defender and Hero of Ukraine Yevhen Mezhevikin, call sign Adam. This is a large unit of more than 10,000 soldiers that reinforces brigades in the most difficult areas.
The journalists of Slidstvo.info spent a day with the tankers of the Adam unit and talked to the military who were destroying the Russian occupiers in Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, and now – near Bakhmut in Donetsk region. The video has English subtitles.
EVERY MORNING TO THE HOTTEST SPOT ON THE FRONTLINE
The journalists of Slidstvo.Info meet with the military before dawn in order to have time to talk to the soldiers before they leave for combat duty near Bakhmut.
The crew commander of a T-64 tank with the call sign Lutyi (from Ukrainian Furious – transl.) is warming up his vehicle. In a few tens of minutes they will be heading to one of the hottest spots in the frontline. The soldiers of the Adam joint tactical group are defending the Kostyantynivka-Bakhmut road from the Russian military.
The men are quietly smoking and drinking their morning coffee.
“We are used to it. It’s our job to defend,” says Lyutyi.
He is from the Kharkiv region. His wife and two small children are waiting for him at home. Every time he returns from a deployment, the first thing he does is call them.
“They are very worried. They are proud of their father. In our village, many of those who did not go to war hide behind their skirts. It’s okay, they have to live with it. I have done my duty,” the man says, finishes his cigarette and jumps back on the tank.
The vehicle roars to life, emits a cloud of white smoke, and sets off on its mission.
“SOON WE WILL BE FIGHTING THE ENEMY AT CLOSE QUARTERS”
Throughout his duty, Poltava keeps in touch with his soldiers. He is the commander of the tank company of the Adam battalion.
“Mostly we work from closed positions, but sometimes we have to work close to the enemy. We have destroyed sniper groups, platoon strongholds, enemy infantry – those famous “Wagners” who are pushing towards us through the woods. We are working on the enemy’s manpower,” the soldier said.
The man explains that over the past year, the tactics of tank warfare have changed a lot – the distances from which they have to work on the Russian military have been reduced every time.
“We used to work from a distance of 1.5 kilometres and it seemed very close. Then we started going out to 800 metres, then 200, 100. I guess we’ll soon be going out and hitting these bastards in the head with a control pistol,” the commander says, laughing.
The soldiers are working on Soviet T-64 tanks. All the vehicles have been overhauled, but still often break down and require very careful maintenance, so some of the Ukrainian military dream of Leopards (a more manoeuvrable German-made tank – ed.). They are confident that they will master them quickly.
“The communication is better there. On ours, it is very strongly jammed. These tanks are more powerful and have a better range. This would, of course, change the course of combat operations. But, as they say, it’s not the machines that matter, it’s the people who sit in them. And here we have people with hot hearts who want to liberate Ukraine,” says Poltava and leads the journalists to another crew of tankers.
“TANKS SHOULD NOT ENTER THE CITY AT ALL”
While one of the crews is on combat duty, the other – the so-called “number two” – also prepares the vehicle for departure. This is to be able to quickly go to the rescue if the “first” crew needs support in battle or has to be dragged to a permanent location because the tank is hit by Russian troops or a mine.
The fighter with the call sign Khomyak (from Ukrainian Hamster – transl.) and tank commander, who is currently insuring his comrades, is warming up the vehicle. He says the T-64, despite its age, is a high-quality and accurate vehicle in the conditions they have to fight in, because it is more durable than foreign ones. However, he believes that it is not always used effectively now.
“Tanks should not enter the city at all. The fact that we tried to use them in Bakhmut is an extreme situation. Because the tank is vulnerable from the side and rear, so you can easily be hit. And if you are in a city and shooting from 200 metres away, why do you need that 7-metre gun that you carry with you and which does not allow you to turn around?” the fighter explains.
Another seemingly obvious problem is the tank’s noise. The Russians can hear the vehicle approaching from several kilometres away and take cover, making it harder to destroy them. In addition, you have to be constantly on the lookout for hits from neighbouring positions.
“That’s why, for example, artillery or mortars, even 80s would work better here, because the enemy would not have time to hide, would not know that they are going to work on them. That’s why we would need not 300 foreign tanks, but 300 mortars and enough ammunition for them,” Khomyak believes.
“I DON’T WANT TO BE A REFUGEE”
In the evening, Lyutyi, whom journalists saw off near Bakhmut in the morning, returns from combat duty. The guys are safe and smiling. They put their things away and share that they already have plans with their families for “after the war”.
“We will go on holiday together. Anywhere, just to be together,” says Lyutyi, smiling at the thought.
Khomyak has similar plans, though he and his wife want to see the ocean.
In addition to these thoughts and dreams, the realisation that you are fighting for what is yours helps you to stay strong and fight fatigue, says Khomyak: “This is my land, where can I go from here? I don’t want to be a refugee in Poland. Now they (the Russian occupiers – ed.) will take me here, then they will come to my house, then I will move to Poltava, they will come to Poltava, then to Vinnytsia. No, it will not happen like that. They came here, they wanted to take mine, I will take everything from them.”