UKRAINE: Senior Lieutenant Pavel Kuzin, the last soldier still capable of fighting, took up the machine gun. The rest of his troop was either dead or wounded.
Pavel, 37, fired at Russian forces attempting to attack his position while suffering from shell shock and having one arm bandaged. He needed to buy some time for a rescue team to arrive, and his last move was to ensure his injured teammates were taken to safety.
The Ukraine military is facing up to 50 attacks on their positions each day due to Russia’s harsh tactics of launching human wave attacks. A group of six Ukraine soldiers under Pavel’s command were engaged in forward surveillance and experienced an intense fire on February 17. They came under heavy fire from a tank. Russia has focused a significant amount of force in this region but at a very heavy cost.
The tank’s aim was precise, unlike the mortar rounds’ constant fire. A few metres from their trenches, shells started hitting the ground. Pavel instructed the wounded men to enter a trench and a combat medic descended to attend to their wounds.
Later, a shell struck the wooden shelter straight and a wounded soldier with the callsign Tsygan was hurled upon the logs with such power that he almost fell to the ground. Someone started shouting and it seemed like they were 100 metres away.
Pavel’s voice was calling to see how the soldiers were doing. The second soldier was partially buried, and Pavel had to haul Tsygan up over broken logs. Tsygan was moved into an adjacent ditch, but it took an agonisingly long time. When the bombardment stopped, Pavel returned to look for the others.
The remains of two men were discovered after two minesweepers arrived to remove logs. After another shell struck the trench, one of them was killed and the other was injured. Russian forces began advancing on their position, so Pavel hurried back to his Browning machine gun and called for a support party to evacuate the injured.
The 206th Battalion of Ukraine’s army, in which Pavel served, engaged in combat in the southern Kherson and northern Kharkiv districts. Mykola Hlabets described the intensity of fighting to break through their positions as “shocking”.
Russian soldiers would crawl and move across an open field or under a tree line to come as close as 20 metres. They had their first close-quarters gunfights here, and one gang after another was destroyed by them, yet they continued to show up.
Videos of Russian soldiers pleading with President Vladimir Putin and the authorities to stop what they called “illegal orders” to send them “to be slaughtered” have been circulated on telegram channels.
In a video posted last month, mobilised Belgorod soldiers said they were dispatched on an attack mission without the required training and refused to follow their instructions. The Russian army’s assault unit Storm of the 5th Brigade said they were unable to escape their position due to blocking troops.
Russia is using wave attacks despite inexperience and lack of preparation, but at a high cost, as Ukrainians reveal their positions and Russian artillery can locate and destroy them.
Pavel was aware of the danger he was in but continued to fire to rescue his injured comrades. He was bleeding in the ditch and his pelvis was fractured by shrapnel. He was not fully awake and spent two hours lying on the snowy ground, feeling neither cold nor anything else.
The 206th battalion of Ukraine’s army, commanders dispatched a team to locate Pavel and the other troops’ remains, and three parties of two soldiers each left to bring them back the following day in the evening. Pavel suffered a brain injury and passed away due to shrapnel.
The station was attacked by Russian tanks and artillery, but the Ukrainian big guns remained silent due to a lack of shells in great supply. The Russians had previously fired up to 60 shells a day, destroying trees and everything else.
Ukraine is having difficulty finding ammo for its Soviet-era weaponry, and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Ukraine is spending more money on ammunition than producing it.
The battalion assembled to pay their respects to Pavel, who died in order to save two others, a significant loss for the unit.