‘We killed 3 Russians’: Secretive Ukrainian forces take on Putin’s army
Despite the fear of being treated as fringe elements if anything went wrong, Ukraine’s secretive forces are taking on Russia’s army. Read on to know more.
The Bratstvo battalion’s activities encompass a variety of operations, including kidnapping senior Kremlin officials, damaging military infrastructure, and shooting down enemy aircraft on Russian soil. (Representative image)
By India Today Web Desk: Taras (23), Vladyslav (21), and their commander Olexiy (39), who belong to the Bratstvo battalion, a Ukrainian special forces volunteer group, understand that if the worst occurs, the Ukrainian government will deny any association with them. In Western cities, their very existence elicits fear. The battalion takes its battle against Putin beyond the frontlines of the war in Ukraine and into occupied areas, even venturing into Russia.
The Bratstvo battalion’s activities encompass a variety of operations, including kidnapping senior Kremlin officials, damaging military infrastructure, and shooting down enemy aircraft on Russian soil. It may seem strange for a battalion like theirs to go public with their stories. However, their goal is clear – to send a message. “It is very easy for us to cross the Russian border,” says Vladyslav with a smile.
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The Bratstvo, meaning brotherhood in Ukrainian, is technically separate from Ukraine’s army, but works closely with official forces. This arms-length status offers plausible deniability. Olexiy works in intelligence, and the battalion mostly recruits civilians or selects the best from other volunteer battalions. Despite the difficulties, he understands the need for their work to remain separate.
The western world’s unease about the idea of Ukraine having the ability to strike Russia within Russia is evidenced by the ongoing debate about Germany’s supply of Leopard 2 tanks and the rejection by the US and others to provide F16 fighter jets.
A significant portion of this worry likely stems from the Kremlin’s warning to use nuclear weapons if the “very existence of the state is put in jeopardy.”
“It turns out that Russians can go to Ukrainian territory, but Ukrainians cannot go into Russia,” Olexiy was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
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Despite the challenges, the Bratstvo volunteers remain undeterred. They believe it is crucial for the Russian leadership to experience the battle’s heat on their own soil.
Sipping coffee in Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko Park during a break from training, planning, and missions, the volunteers appear like any other young people, dressed in jeans, jumpers, and hoodies. The only indication of their profession is Vladyslav’s handgun on his hip.
Due to their unofficial status, their stories cannot be independently confirmed, but they are compelling and believable, showcasing their bravery and audacity.
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The second eldest of the three men, Taras, says he returned two weeks ago from what he described as a straightforward operation. “Our group needed to bring a certain amount of explosives to the territory of Russia and leave them in a certain place,” he says. “I don’t know for what and whom this explosive was intended. But I know for sure that some people in Russia are ready to help Ukrainians,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
But six weeks ago, he says, he completed the most successful operation yet. It had a jittery start. “We had a task to destroy a Russian helicopter transporting high-ranking officials of the Russian ministry of internal affairs,” says Taras. “On the first time in, bad weather prevented the laser sight from accurately aiming to hit the target. In addition, we had internal problems within the group, arguments, so we entered Russian territory but turned back, took into account our mistakes â€¦ and in a week we made a second attempt.”