Monday, November 30, 2015

So What’s for Lunch?

Published in The Greanville Post. »

I was in Dallas the day JFK was murdered, 52 years ago today. I was only 3 1/2 years old, but I remember it. I was always interested in knowing what really happened, and some years later, in my early 30s, I researched the assassination quite extensively. Some of the best information I found was presented in a book and a film by Mark Lane called Rush to Judgement. He interviewed eyewitnesses who were in Dealy Plaza that day. There was a witness, a veteran of WW II, who said with certainty that he heard shots and saw smoke from the “Grassy Knoll” that day. After the Warren Commission cover-up was published, Lane again interviewed his witness, who then said, “Well, I thought I knew what I saw and heard, but after reading the government’s report, I guess I was wrong”. This article is addressed to that witness, and all those like him in the West today…

I have often been asked by my friends and comrades here in Donbass what kind of people live in the USA, asked whether they know or care about what goes on in the world around them. I say there are good people in the US, who care about others and who are smart enough to understand the interconnectedness we all share, that we are all in this together, and that what goes around, comes around. And that is true. For about 2% of the US population. The rest are something else.

The vast majority of US citizens are cowards and fools. The worst kind of cowards, those who are afraid to know the truth, much less actually do anything about it, and the worst kind of fools, those who have deceived themselves, to the point of refusing to consider even the possibility that they may be wrong, even when they are as absolutely as wrong as they can be. That is the truth about most US citizens today, about 98%, by my estimate, based on the fact that only 2% voted for Nader in the year 2000. Nader was the only candidate willing to speak the truth. Only someone who is as described above could have voted for any major party candidate in that election, or in any US election since. I voted for Nader in 2000, I worked on his campaign in Alaska. I’ve never voted since.

Voting in the USA — what a joke. I used to believe in the system. I voted for Ron Paul back in ’88. I ran for US Senator in Minnesota in 1990. That year, I saw an Anarchist newspaper with a photo of Bush Sr. and Clinton. Above the photo, the headline read , ‘SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT PILE”. I thought that was kind of harsh. It took me ten more years to realize they were right. But I did. How about you? US elections can be compared to a fancy and quite expensive restaurant that has a single item on the menu, but with variations. It’s a shit sandwich, nice and fresh and steaming hot, but you have your choice between white Wonder Bread or organic whole wheat. Of course, they offer every kind of sauce – you can customize your sandwich like a Starbucks Double Mocha Frappe Latte Decaf Cappuccino, but it’s still a shit sandwich. And you may not have any choice whether you have to pay for it or not, but you do have one choice, and that is whether you’re gonna eat it or not. By voting, you take that first big bite. Obama is a bigger war criminal and greater shame to the history of the US than even either Bush was. And whoever comes after Obama, Republican or Democrat, will be worse still. If you vote for either of them, my friends in Cuba have a name for you…

When I went to Cuba, in 1995, I learned that the slang name there for citizens of the US was “Come’ Mierdas”, Spanish for “Shit-Eaters”. Not a very kind sobriquet, but certainly honest and appropriate. People in the US consume a steady and unvaried diet of shit – mainstream news, politics, entertainment, and the food, from McDonald’s, to GMOs, to the filth that contaminates the food produced in factory farms, it’s literally shit. If a person eats shit for long enough, they eventually get used to it. If they eat it for too long, they start to like it. That is what has happened to most US and EU citizens today. They eat shit, and they like it, and they are angrily offended by anyone who points this out, and they have exactly zero interest in considering any alternative to the shit they consume on a daily basis.

The social contract in any civilized society, between each member of that society, can only be based on the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And by “good”, I mean the greatest opportunity for each citizen of that society to fulfill their potential as human beings. This is impossible when people don’t have access to food security, adequate housing, meaningful work and decent medical care and education, when 400 people own more wealth than 150 million, as is exactly the case in the USA today. In the USA, the social contract is based on the proposition that “I will pretend to believe your bullshit if you will pretend to believe mine”, a “positive” feedback loop based on mutual and self deception that is reinforced and increasingly distorted with every bogus interaction, whether voting, watching the news, or simply being asked “How ya doing?” and answering “Fine.”

The entire history of the USA is based on comforting, but provable and obvious, lies. The USA was founded on genocide and built by slavery. Howard Zinn’s classic People’s History of the United States is an excellent example of how false the prevailing notions, the shared lies, really are. Which is not to say that anyone who has read Zinn’s History is still not fully capable of creating their own false world view. In fact, in the West, there are as many “shit-eaters” on the Left as there are on the Right (ed: for example, the “imperialist left”). Those on the (fake) Left are just as destructive and deluded as their counterparts, their mirror images on the Right, but personally, I find them even more revolting, and I don’t mean in the revolutionary sense…

For example, I know a full grown woman with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. She drives a Prius, jogs, is “passionate” about recycling her garbage, is very politically correct, votes a straight Democratic Party ticket and considers herself to be intellectual and Progressive. She grew up pampered in a wealthy conservative family, went to a private boarding school, studied abroad and then married a rich husband. She reads The New York Times, and thinks she is well-informed. But I have personally heard her say “I don’t want to know.” “I don’t care about virtues or principles.” “I don’t care about other people.” “There’s no such thing as objective truth”. And she certainly meant it. Quite the philosopher, eh? She owns a couple of bars and makes her money selling alcohol to college students, and spends her time writing maudlin poems. She voted for Obama twice, and gets offended if I asks her if she has any regrets about it. She will certainly vote for Hillary Clinton or whatever crypto-fascist the Democratic Party runs, and will consider herself a superior person for doing so.The cognitive dissonance of her phony self and world view, her attempts to convince herself and others that she is a “good” person, while she does actually nothing of any genuine merit in her life, has made her bitter and resentful of anyone who makes a real effort to improve the state of the world. And the more confused and unhappy she becomes, the tighter she clings to her self-deception, the true source of her misery. How do you reach people like that? I don’t know… But I am trying.

I know a man, an arch-conservative, who flunked out of college in his early 20’s during the draft for the Vietnam War. Rather than take a chance on getting drafted and actually serving in a war that he ardently supported, with his words and with his votes, at least until he himself became eligible for the draft, he used his family’s money and political connections to get an enlistment in the Marine Reserves, the surefire way to guarantee he would not have to go anywhere near the actual fighting. Instead, he played soldier one weekend a month and two weeks every summer, safe in the USA. (George Bush, Junior did the same thing. And then there’s Ted Nugent…) This Marine Reservist was highly offended when I pointed out that real soldiers, like myself, from the regular full time Armed Services did not really consider reservists to be soldiers. His self deception, to this day, extends to his wearing USMC logo clothing much of the time, having “Semper Fi” stickers on all his cars and going to and financially supporting USMC events. What was truly an act of cowardice and hypocrisy, he now points to as an act of courage and patriotism. He has fetishized his self deception to the point where he is proud of his “service” and the objects that are truly the symbols of his shame. But he will pretend to believe your bullshit, if you will pretend to believe his…

No one — and we mean no one — has dissected American bullshit better and more fiercely than George Carlin. The most serious comic of his generation, Carlin was perhaps the most incisive underground social critic the US has ever produced. This routine is one of his signature riffs, sparing no one, and leaving no room for cowardly ambiguity. Video on source.

This total inversion of truth and of reality is pervasive among the vast majority of US citizens. It is exactly what Orwell described as “Double Think” – “To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary…. To use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypocrisy you had just performed.” This is the precise mental state of most of the people in The West today, and especially in the USA. It is as dangerous as it is disgusting. People who are capable of such depths of self-deception, such hypocrisy, are not to be trusted. They are not even qualified to have an opinion, much less vote or in any other way attempt to influence the reality they fear and cannot (and will not even try to) comprehend. As Einstein said, “They are hardly worthy of the brain and spine they were born with.”

And the more erroneous, the more false their perception of reality, the tighter they cling to it, the more threatened and offended they are by anyone who even asks them to consider an alternative view. Because as the old saying goes, “It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong”. So, what must it take to admit that your entire world view is not just wrong, but totally 180 degrees divergent from objective reality, to admit that you have a half eaten shit sandwich in your hand? More than most people can muster, apparently. A mistake is not a “mistake” if it is an intentional lie, even if that lie is told to yourself. And if someone does have the courage and integrity to abandon the comforting lie for the hard truth, they are also forced to understand, to admit, that they have a responsibility to themselves and to the future of Humanity to do something about it. But it is so much easier, safer, and more socially acceptable to turn on the TV, pop open a beer and pretend everything is OK and will remain so. Because if you pretend to believe their bullshit, they will pretend to believe yours…

This is the same grotesque depth of self-deception and reversal of reality that allows the Nazis of Western Ukraine to idolize a war criminal like Stepan Bandera, and to try to “rehabilitate” Hitler by saying he was “just misunderstood, and really not that bad”. People who are capable of saying this, and believing it, are capable of crimes beyond the imagination of normal human beings. US citizens who ignore the crimes of their government, at home and abroad (as long as it doesn’t affect them personally) are no better than the “Good Germans” who supported Hitler, and will eventually share their same fate. And deserve to.

Cowards hate the brave, idiots hate the wise, and liars hate the truth. It is a hatred born of fear and envy and gross self-centeredness. Those who are brave and wise and speak the truth are not welcome in the circles of the self-deceived. They are hated there, they are attacked, they are killed. But who can teach someone to overcome their cowardice except the brave? Who can teach a fool how to become wise except the wise? The definition of wisdom is “Having the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting”. Only the truth can expose a lie. Anything else is just another lie.

The vast majority of US citizens are fools and cowards, and their rulers know this, and act accordingly. The impudence of the rulers of the USA is a measure of the impotence and futility of their subjects. And the rulers are very impudent. Every day, the rulers feel less and less compelled to even try to hide their crimes. Why bother? Obvious false flags like 9/11 or MH17 were executed in a way that shows the perpetrators did not even care if they left incontrovertible evidence behind. The majority of the people will believe what they are told to believe, what it is convenient and comfortable to believe, regardless of the evidence, and they will resent and violently resist anyone who holds the evidence up to the light and asks them to look at it. So they cower in their darkened corners, hugging their chains and licking the boots of their masters, eating their shit, while congratulating each other on their bravery and freedom, snarling at anyone with genuine courage and compassion who tries to help them to see the truth, to do what is right, and to truly be free.

Courage and compassion are the greatest human virtues, but they are not only to be found in the human realm. There are many examples of these qualities being exhibited by animals, so what does that make those creatures, those simulacra of human beings, who are devoid of these very traits? I say it makes them evil. The old saying about “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” is not true. People who do nothing when confronted with evil are not “good people”, They are complicit in that evil, and they are evil too. What is “evil”? I have been face to face with cannibals and mass murderers, so I will tell you, because I know. Scott Peck wrote a book called People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. He described evil as “militant ignorance”, as “a willingness to impose suffering on others in order to avoid one’s own spiritual growth”. Both definitions are spot on, and describe perfectly the US government, the majority of the US citizenry, the Kiev regime and their psychopathic henchmen.

Is there hope? Is there an answer? I don’t know. But I will speak the truth, and I will stand up for what is right. I’ve got a brain and a spine, and I’m going to use them, come what may. Even if defeat were to be inevitable, (which I do NOT believe) even if this was the Alamo or Thermopylae, that would never stop me from doing everything I can to defeat this genuine evil that is attacking Donbass and in fact, attacking the whole world.. We are defined by what we do, and what we don’t do. That is what truly tells ourselves and others who and what we really are. Words mean nothing if they are not corroborated and combined with actions. I do not consider myself a “hero”. I am just a regular guy who is doing the right thing. Yes, it is sometimes hard and dangerous, but it’s not that big of a deal. It is also sometimes very cool and very fun, so virtue really is its own reward. But if I’m just a regular guy, what does that make those who have less courage and compassion ( and less grasp of reality) than a water buffalo? It makes them part of the problem. I will help them if I can, with my words and by my example. But I will fight them if I must. There is objective truth, and it is clear to any honest person, who is right and who is wrong here, and elsewhere.

Those who deceive themselves are their own worst enemies, and ours. Our work, our work, speaks for itself, mine and yours, and for us, you and me. We are what we do. If there is hope, it lies with those who are willing to face the truth, and to speak it, and to defend it. And to do something about it. Everybody else is just a shit-eater… So, what’s for lunch?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Homage to the Fallen

Published in The Greanville Post. »

FILIN (the phonetic spelling of Филин, “Eagle Owl”) was an instructor for the Vostok Brigade at Yasynuvata when I joined the Novorussian Army in December 2014. He was only 21 years old at the time, but he was already a combat veteran who seemed much older, despite his baby face. He was someone I respected from the moment I met him. He was a brave and serious soldier and an excellent instructor. He was also a genuinely nice guy. He was from Makeevka, just outside Donetsk. He was defending the land he was born in from foreign-backed Nazis who were coming here to enslave the Russian speaking people of Donbass. He refused to be a slave and was willing to fight and die to protect others. He was a quiet guy who led and encouraged others by his own example. He was brave, kind and generous. He was exactly the kind of guy this world needs more of. Fedorov Ruslan Petrovich, “Eagle Owl” will be missed.

Fedorov Ruslan Petrovich. Not just a friend of mine, or of Novorossiya, this Hero was an example and a friend to all good people in the world. We will build a monument to Heroes like this, hopefully in Kiev after we liberate it.

video on source
video on source

Monday, November 23, 2015

Some things are worse than war

video on channelsource

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Serpent and the Crown — My First Combat Position, “Troishka”

Published in The Greanville Post. »

Russell "Texas" Bentleyin the troishka area, daily facing eternity. Like many soldiers before him, defending what seems like an unimportant patch of earth. The image was taken several months after the events in this article; the New Terminal is on the right; Troishka on the left. Two CB soldiers were killed in almost the exact spot where Texac is standing, the day after this photo was taken.
The Essence of Time movement red flag, proudly flying atop the troishka fortifications.
“Ucho” mounted on anti-aircraft tripod.
There are people in this world, men and women, who are born to be Warriors. Hunters, natural apex predators, who are experts at the job of hunting and killing and butchering. Some are good, some are bad, but I am not one of them. Though I can do it if I have to. There are things worth dying for, so there are things worth killing for. And there are things worse than death. And when someone comes to do something worse than death to you and yours, you have a right to kill them. An obligation. Before I came to Donbass, I had a couple of experiences in Mexico. Some guys were coming to kill me, or they were coming to kill me and my friends. They died trying. Self defense. No apologies, end of story. That was the extent of my combat experience before I got to the airport.

New Year’s Eve, 2014, I left Yasynuvata at 4 o’clock in the morning in the back of a dark blue mini-bus. I had two backpacks full of clothes and gear. I had a good kevlar helmet with a defective chin strap, and I had the best type of body armor that I have ever seen anybody wear in the Novorossiyan Armed Forces — Class 4 steel in a slim black vest. Heavy, about ten kilos, but worth it. In Russian, body armor is called “Bronik-gilette”, or just “Bronik”. Your bronik is your friend…

I also had an AK-74 “Avtomat”, and five loaded magazines — one in the gun and four in the web gear I had bought in Rostov. My sleeping bag, also bought in Rostov, was a 3XL bag rated for the Arctic. It was reasonably priced and turned out to be one of the best investments I have ever made in my life. I learned to love that sleeping bag like a beautiful girlfriend. My Avtomat too, like a girlfriend, even if they weren’t always faithful. Everybody at the front has a name for their rifle. Mine was named “Софи”, “Sophie”, after my youngest niece.

The van had ultra dark tinted windows, but it didn’t really matter because they were frosted up on both sides a quarter of an inch thick. As the saying goes, “you couldn’t see shit.” I was crammed in with half a dozen other soldiers, along with so much stuff — food, water, soup, ammo, clothes, blankets and weapons that we barely had room to breathe. The mood was somber, serious. It reminded me of the US Marshal vans I had ridden in, on my way to prison, back when I was doing my bit. Heading into the unknown, where the only thing known was that it was not going to be pleasant.

It took us almost an hour to get to the Airport. 25 km from Yasynuvata to Donetsk, then about 10 km to the Airport. My Russian language skills were so poor, I couldn’t really say anything, and the few comments the other guys made were totally incomprehensible. I had expected Orion to be with me as interpreter, but he was in the hospital with a lung infection. I had the same bad cough, and it was bad, but I’ve never missed a day of work because of being sick, or even hungover, and I wasn’t going to start now. I did not come to Donbass to check into the hospital. Finally, the van came to a stop and the side door slid open. It was dawn on the morning of December 31st, 2014. Still dark, and very, very cold. The driver motioned for me to get out, and I did. I thought we all would, but it was only me and the driver. I looked around…

We were standing in front of what was left of an Eastern Orthodox church that had been heavily, heavily bombed. The roof was blown down, and there was not a square meter of the exterior that did not have several dozen bullet holes or shrapnel scars. 500 meters directly behind the church was the New Terminal, occupied by the “Cyborgs” of the Ukrainian Army. Everything between the church and New Terminal was just an open field. Actually, I looked a little closer and realized it was not an open field, it was a cemetery. A big one, with a couple of thousand graves. It reminded me of the cemetery in the final scene of the movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. The scene I was in would be the first in this, my own real life movie, but it also might be my last.

I was standing next to a blown up church in the middle of a grave yard, going to war in a strange foreign country that I had been in for less than a month. I realized I could get killed today, any second, starting right now. It felt like I was standing outside of time, but I knew I didn’t really have time to stand outside of time right then. I was “all in” as we say in Texas Hold ‘Em, and now I had to play the hand I had dealt myself.

Texas offers a view of the bombed church and explains the events in which the site played a pivotal role. Video on source.

We unloaded our share of the supplies in front of the church, and as we did, four soldiers approached from the monastery, where the combat position “Troishka” was located. (“Troishka” because the monastery had three stories — or used to have three stories.) They were regular looking guys, except for the fact they all carried machine guns and wore helmets and bulletproof vests, with ammo clips and grenades festooned all over their torsos, and they were very serious. Very serious. Fortunately, our first conversation was easy. The word for “sniper” in Russian is pronounced almost the same as in English, kind of like “shnaypair”. When they pointed towards the New Terminal and control tower and said that word, I knew exactly what they were talking about. I understood.

It took us a few trips to hump all the gear the 100 meters or so from the drop off point in front of the church to the ground floor of Troishka. The ammo first, then the food and water, then my personal gear. Two backpacks. Before I left Yasynavata, I was told I would only be at the airport a day or two. Good thing I packed. You know the old saying about “I spent a week in Moscow one night”? Well, I spent half my life at Troishka in a couple of weeks. Time is relative. Especially when you’re standing outside of it.

We ran across the hundred yards between the front of the church and the door of the monastery. Every move we made outside was under Ukrop observation and therefore, potentially fatal. So we moved quickly. Once inside the door of the three story monastery, we turned right and went up the stairs, passing a switchback landing with a guard post and an AGS automatic grenade launcher. The door to the second floor was sealed by a sheet of plastic and a heavy rug. Almost completely airtight and light tight. I stepped inside, into almost total darkness, and a thick haze of smoke from the wood burning stoves that were the only source of heat for our quarters and for cooking. Even though the sun had begun to rise outside, the darkness inside was pervasive, due to the fact that all the windows had been sealed with sandbags against the frequent artillery. Only small firing ports were open to the outside. You literally needed a flashlight, even during the day, just to move around. Good thing I had brought three. I was going to need them.

The monastery was a rectangular building, with a north-south axis. Directly to our north was the airport control tower, about 400 meters away, behind a treeline and small radar station only about 150 meters away. The New Terminal, or what was left of it, was about 500 meters to our East. Both the control tower and New Terminal were held by Ukrop Army “Cyborgs”, along with Pravy Sektor Nazis and US and EU mercenaries. Within less than a kilometer’s range, the enemy forces arrayed against us outnumbered us about 10 to 1. There were never more that 20 of us at Troishka, and usually closer to a dozen. Against at least 200 Nazis and Ukrop soldiers. Long odds, but somewhat better than the odds at The Alamo or Thermopylae. Still, we would get plenty of chances to die like heroes here, and some of us would.

Our main positions were on the second floor. The building had originally been three stories, but the roof had been completely bombed and burned off, so the floor of the third floor was now the roof. Needless to say, it leaked. The layout of the second floor was a long narrow hallway with six rooms on each side. The ones on the right were all firing positions facing towards the New Terminal, and our food storage room. The rooms on the left were, from back to front, commander’s room, eight-man room, kitchen, two eight-man rooms and the ammo room, located just behind the forward firing points facing the control tower. There were three firing points; the main one at the end of the hall was for the “Uchos”, a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, comparable to the US M2 .50 caliber. To the left of the Uchos was a window for observation and for the PKM when there was something to shoot at. To the right was a small room that had firing ports cut through the walls to the north and east. This small room was destined to become my office, and I would do a lot of work there.

After a quick tour of the position, I was taken to the room where I would be sleeping. There were eight bunks, and four guys — Arik, sniper, who never said much, Bielka (“Squirrel”) a local veteran of over six months of fighting, and two Italian volunteers, “Spartak” and “Archangel”. I was placed with the Italians, because I speak rudimentary and imperfect Spanish, and it was considered that Italian was similar enough to Spanish that I could communicate with them. Well, almost At that time, my Russian was so limited as to be of virtually no use at all, and my Italian skills were hardly better. I was going to be operating with sign language and on the basis of “vibes”. Good luck and pass the ammo…

The other soldiers there that day were Mos, Vetter and Krugly, who had arrived the day before and were in my basic training class at Yasynuvata; I knew and liked them. They were good soldiers and I had lent them many cigarettes. I met there for the first time Mongoose, a CB (Суть Времени, Essence of Time) administrative commander, and Reem and Mir, two best friends who were the combat commanders of the position and were the main gunners on the Uchos heavy MG. Eleven of us total, though subsequently, soldiers would arrive and depart on a daily basis. But on that day, new Year’s Eve day, 2014, there was just the eleven of us. About 500 meters to our West, we had a two-man PL/OP called “Ushi” at the Pinocchio Nursery School. 500 meters to the south and behind us was the “Milnitsia” position, a radio hub and communication center, usually manned by between six to ten comrades.

As dawn turned into day, the dull light of grey overcast snow clouds filtered through the few small openings, but the temperature remained below zero. It was very fuckin’ cold. Each bunkroom had a small metal wood burning stove for warmth, and candles provided the light, along with the ever present flashlights that most wore on their heads or around their necks at all times. After weapon and body armor, a flashlight was one of the most vital items for work and survival. The stoves were very important too, but there were two problems with the stoves — first a severe lack of firewood, and second, the smoke. All the stoves were on the same side of the building, facing west. And there was a western wind, strong and cold, blowing most of the time. Blowing the smoke right back down the chimneys. It was smokier than the smokiest smoke-filled barroom you have ever been in, by a factor of ten. I am sure firefighters are the only ones who have been in smokier conditions than we had there. The smoke would drive you crazy, make you want to cry, but you kept the fire going, because it was either that or freeze. All day, every day, 24/7. Of all the things I remember about Troishka, the smoke is always what first comes to mind. I already had a real bad cough before I left Yasynavata, and this smoke situation sure did not help.

And speaking of smoke, I had only brought a few packs of cigarettes, having erroneously been told by Orion before he left to the hospital that I would be at the airport for only a day or two. Upon arrival, I was told the rotation would last for at least two weeks, maybe a month. And there was no going to the store from there. But Vostok Battalion understood how important cigarettes are for soldiers in a combat zone (and they really are), and so we had a big pile of cigarette packs, sitting on a corner of the kitchen table, and take all you want. The cigarettes were called “Prima”, in a red cardboard pack. Filterless and strong, along the lines of French Gauloises or Mexican Delicados, both of which I had smoked before. But the interesting thing I noticed about these Primas was written on the top of each pack – “CCCP”. I wasn’t too good at reading Russian then, but I knew what “CCCP” meant. It meant that those cigarettes had been waiting for at least 25 years to be smoked. And now, we smoked them.

Lunch was pig liver paté (“pashtet”) on hard dry crackers. It was served cold, but at least not frozen, and the tea was boiling hot, strong and sweet. Protein, carbs, caffeine and sugar. A soldier’s diet. Dinner was soup and fresh bread. For Novorossiyan soldiers, bread is a delicacy, add mayonnaise or ketchup to just plain bread, and it is a gourmet delicacy. They were right. It went well with the soup, which was twice as good (or half as horrible) as the soup in Yasynuvata. Front line soldiers are either always first, or always last, in line when it comes to supplies. It depends on the Commander. We had a good one, “Volga”, but there wasn’t a lot to go around, and everybody had to get something, so we didn’t get much, even at the front of the line. The food was sometimes quite meager, and always very basic, but there was almost always tea, and sometimes instant coffee. But there were plenty of bullets, and they brought plenty more every day. And we certainly used them.

As the day progressed, the rumble of (not too) distant cannon and gunfire was constant, but was not directed at us. But we knew it was directed at somebody. On a battlefront, you generally don’t shoot unless you see something. But if you see something, you shoot to kill. And there was a lot of shooting going on around us. Shooting to kill. As the short and overcast day began to fade into night, New Year’s Eve, I was told that for the Ukrops to go a whole day without attacking or at least firing on on our position was quite unusual. That was OK by me. I figured I could use at least a couple of hours to get acclimated. Before I started shooting and getting shot at…

Tribute to the fallen at the Donetsk Airport. If you have a heart, and some knowledge of the conflict in Ukraine, while watching this homage it will be difficult to hold back the tears. These young men died because the enormous forces of US imperialism, cloaked in ignorance and selfishness, are still free to roam the world plotting, funding, organizing, committing, and triggering appalling crimes with almost total impunity. Let us all honor these real heroes for a better world. They stood for a most honorable cause. They will not be forgotten! Video on source.

Dinner was soup and crackers. Vegetable soup, long on the potatoes and short on everything else. It also had some “Tashunka”, canned beef that reminded me of the pieces of cow divided up among the Partisans in the movie “Come and See”. (If you haven’t seen this movie, you should watch it as soon as you finish this article. Seriously.) I found it a bit interesting and amusing that the Russian word for “canned beef” was pronounced almost exactly the same as the Lakota word for “horse”. But I had no idea how to explain this fact to my comrades, so I kept it to myself.

As night fell, what had been the deep blinding darkness of the day became the absolute total darkness of the night, where not a single photon touches the optic nerve. Darkness within darkness. Outside it was a Winter night with low, dark clouds reflecting the almost complete absence of light from the ground. There was no electricity, and to show any light from flashlight or fire was to invite bullets, many and big ones, and that right quickly. So, darkness was the name of the game. Walking down the hallway, you could not see the soldier walking a single meter ahead of you. Not an outline, not any visual indication he was there at all. Only what you could hear and smell, and sense and feel. It was like walking down the hall with my eyes closed, and sometimes I did, and sometimes I could see better that way.

At the end of the hall was a firing port for the “Uchos”, the 12.7 mm heavy machine gun that was our main armament. It sat by the window, which was fully sealed with sandbags except for a small firing port that was usually sealed wih a piece of plywood for light discipline, and only opened when a target had been acquired. About ten feet to the left was our observation post, equipped with a PKM general purpose 7.62 mm machine gun. The PKM was Bielka’s weapon, and not to be fired by anyone else except in emergencies. But it was always there if we needed it. Both the Uchos and PKM firing/observation points faced north looking directly at the Donetsk airport control tower, which was a Ukrainian Army fighting position about 400 meters away. There was also a small radar building and long treeline about 150 meters away, from which the Ukrops would usually launch their attacks. There were always at least two soldiers on guard duty, one at the PKM window, and another on the landing with the AGS guarding the door. The shifts were four hours, and we each pulled two shifts a day. We had a night vision scope for the Uchos, and a handheld thermal imager that was most effective at detecting advancing enemy troops.

Thermal imagers are among the most important weapons in modern combat. We had one, but it didn’t always work. The Ukrainian Army had plenty of them, thanks to the “non-lethal aid” from the their masters in the USA. Every time I stood at the window on guard duty, I wondered if my thermal signature was in the crosshairs of a Nazi sniper’s thermal scope, made in the good ol’ USA. I would bob and weave at the window, hoping I would move enough between the time the trigger was pulled and the time the bullet arrived. The veterans would just stand there, perfectly still, facing death fearlessly.

I learned to emulate what the veterans did. They would communicate what I needed to know, but would mostly say nothing and see how long it took me to figure things out for myself. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was simply that they were soldiers in a combat zone and they had other things to do besides babysit me. I had volunteered to be a soldier, so I was expected to look after myself. It was a steep learning curve, but I did my best, and that was good enough. Good enough to keep me alive.

The control tower was the prominent terrain feature and the focus of our attention. To me, the control tower, which had sustained hundreds of impacts from all types of weapons, looked like a serpent ready to strike, with a crown on its head. The Serpent of Fascism had raised its ugly head in Novorossiya, and we were there to prevent it from advancing any further. Or die trying. I was ready, or as we say in Russian, “Gatov”.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, several Commanders from Milnitsa arrived with a couple of bottles of champagne. We gathered in the kitchen and toasted to victory. The Commanders, Mongoose and Caluchi invited me to the Commander’s room, and a couple of bottles of vodka were shared. I actually got a pretty good buzz going, and was glad I was not on the guard roster that night. I made my way through the pitch dark to my room, where Bielka and the two Italians were already snoring away. I made my way through the choking haze of smoke, hung my rifle on a nail, removed my bronik and boots, and climbed up onto my bunk. I slid fully clothed into my beloved sleeping bag. After a few minutes of hacking, wracking coughs, I began to fall asleep. Tomorrow would be a busy day. New Year’s Day, 2015.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

There is no Water in Yasynuvata

Published in The Greanville Post. »

The author on guard, manning a check point.
The New Partisans. Author first on left, standing.
On Monday, the 15th of December 2014, Toro, Orion and I joined the Novorossiyan Army and Battalion Vostok. We arrived at Base 4 on the outskirts of Donetsk. We filled out some paperwork and then we were taken for an assessment by a very strong and serious young soldier. He checked our weapons handling skills, made sure we knew how to field strip the AK and the SKS and had us do 40 push ups. Toro, an older volunteer was having a bit of a struggle, but we all passed. We then went to another room to get our dogtags and IDs.

Everybody in the Novorossiyan Armed Forces (NAF) has a callsign, a code name to be used at all times instead of your real name. I had given some thought to what mine would be, and had chosen the name “Witco” in honor of one of my personal heroes, Crazy Horse. His name in the Lakota language is “Tashunka Witko” and in Lakota, the word “Witko” means “Crazy”. A perfect name, or so I thought. When I said that was what I wanted for my callsign, the soldier filling out the paperwork hesitated and looked confused. Orion, who was doing the interpreting, told me that name would probably be hard for Russians to pronounce, and maybe I should choose another one. I thought for a moment and said, “OK, how about ‘Texas’ “. It worked.

It is pronounced in the Russian fashion, which is very similar to the way the Indians and Mexicans pronounced it – “Tay-HASS”, though sometimes when I get a girl giggling with delight she will change the accent and say “Oh, TAY-hass”. Many commanders and soldiers in the NAF have code names that are geographical places or features – Volga, Baikal, Olkhon. So “Texas” was a good choice, and as someone pointed out, Texas is one of the few states in the US that every Russian has heard of. Good thing I wasn’t born in New Hampshire. It probably wouldn’t be the same…

Shortly afterwards, we loaded ourselves and all our gear into a van for the trip to Yasynuvata, a small town about 20 kilometers from Donetsk. This is where the basic training center for Battalion Vostok was located. As we drove, we passed through several checkpoints and saw signs of recent battles, including a blown up bridge. As we turned off the main road, our driver pointed to the north and casually mentioned we were now in a combat zone and the Ukrainian Army was in positions about 2 km away. Well within range of tank and BMP guns. It was looking like the training we were going to get would be “OJT”, On the Job Training. And it was.

As we pulled into town, we came up to another checkpoint, manned by the new recruits from Vostok boot camp. Three guys with AK-74’s and one with a PKM machine gun stopped all traffic going in and out of town. Checking papers, opening trunks, and generally looking for Ukrop “diversants” (recon/sabotage units). With the Ukrop positions about a mile away, it was serious business. We passed through the checkpoint and shortly came to Vostok Boot Camp – an old train repair facility, surrounded by a stone wall topped with razor wire, with two more armed guards at the gate. We entered the compound and drove to the back. The first thing we saw when we got out of the van was artillery hole from an 82 mm mortar in the roof of the dining hall, and the very first thing we were shown was where the cellar / bomb shelter was. Then we were taken to the barracks.

Army barracks are not generally known for their opulence, and Vostok Boot Camp wasn’t either. In fact, it was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life up to that point, and it wasn’t the training that was hard, it was the conditions. We were crammed into a medium sized conference room that had about 40 ancient Russian Army cots with about 14 inches of space between each one. It was now cold outside, being Russia in December, so the windows stayed closed, and the smell of 40 soldiers who bathed once a week took some getting used to.

The food could only be described as horrible, and it was the same exact thing, every meal, every day – vegetable (and by “vegetable” I mean mostly potato) soup and Kashka, a cracked wheat dish with only a hint of meat. Tea was the constant drink, strong and very sweet. We washed our bowls and cups in dishwater a regular person would not wash their work boots in. It was crazy.

The toilet was a shit-encrusted shit hole of a hole, a hole in the floor that led to a hole in the ground, that was full of shit. An outhouse without a seat that had seen its better days. Like something from a Robert Rodriguez movie. And the smell there also took getting used too. It was outside, cold and dark, and you really had to watch where you stepped. So, I tried to spend as little time there as possible. I would eat only a little of the horrible food, and then have to shit only every 3rd or 4th day.

The bathing facilities were opened once a week – a Russian “Banya” with a steam room and birch branches for flaggelating yourself till you got clean. The Ukrops had bombed the water pumping station and every time we would get it fixed, they would bomb it again, so there was no running water. We got our water from nearby wells in the yards of abandoned homes. And I mean the kind of wells you see in fairy tales – with the little roof, the bucket on a chain and a crank. We got all the water for about 200 people from those wells every day. And carried it back in 20 liter milk cans.

Most of the new recruits were completely flat broke, and every time I went outside for a smoke, I would smoke one and give 5 away. For a while, I thought my new name in Russian was “Dait cigarette”, “Give me a cigarette.” But how could I refuse? These were my new comrades, some of whom I would soon be in battle with, and besides, why not pass them out? I am a Communist. I had about $3,000, and I did not expect to live to see the Spring.

I spent 3 years in the US Army, back in the early 80s, and 3 months of that was basic training. Basic training in the Novorossiyan Army was two week long. I fired a total of 12 bullets through an AK-74, (of which 10 hit the head-sized target from 100 meters.) We did PT every morning, and the first day, I puked 4 times, but I did not quit. I was 54 years old, fat and out of shape, running around with badass Novorossiyan Partisans less then half my age. But I did not quit. There were about 200 of us there, half new recruits, and half veterans who rotated between tours at the airport and training the new guys. December 2014 and January 2015 were the times of the hardest fighting at the airport. The guys who came back from the airport always had that haunted look. The airport was the grinder where all of us were going, but from which not all of us would return.

Our second week of basic training consisted of two six hour shifts per day, (noon to 6 PM, and then midnight to 6AM) manning checkpoints and guard positions. It was pretty serious business. Two guards at a checkpoint about 1 km from ours were found with their weapons gone and their throats cut just a few weeks earlier. We had a 3 man team – Orion, who spoke Russian and English, and Toro and I who spoke English and Spanish. I got the PKM,(1) and I kept it loaded and I kept it close. We spent Christmas Eve, from midnight to 6AM at our checkpoint, the same one we had come through less than 2 weeks earlier. It was getting cold, but we stayed on our toes. The local civilians really appreciated what we were doing, and would bring us tea, pastries, and sometimes a shot of vodka.

One night, a car with 4 guys in it pulled up kind of late. Orion asked the driver for his papers and then said to me in English “They are state cops”. “Cool,” I said, “Let’s have them get out and open the trunk.” And they did, because the guy with the PKM said so. And it was legit, because not all the cops in Donetsk Oblast are loyal to the people of the DNR. But I could not help thinking about how back in my old home state of Texas, the goddamned state police, called the “Department of Public Safety”, often do roadside cavity searches, looking for small amounts of drugs. That shit don’t fly in the DNR. Take a lesson from it. Here, the People’s Army search the cops. And so we did. It was a most satisfying experience.

During my training, I had earned a reputation as a good soldier, and I was approached by a couple of snipers from Суть Времени (pronounced “Soot Vremeny”, which in Russian means “Essence of Time”). Both snipers spoke Spanish. So did I. Alfonzo was from Colombia, and Mars was a Russian volunteer. Both were combat veterans, and Mars was considered to be one of the deadliest snipers in the Novorossiyan Army. Over a clandestine bottle of wine in the officer’s dining hall, we discussed political philosophy and military experience. Yes, I was a Communist, yes, I had military training from the US Army, and yes, I had some combat experience from a couple of incidents in Mexico. Would I like to join Суть Времени? Of course. But it would be a package deal, with Orion and Toro coming too. When I told Orion about it, that a couple of snipers from an elite unit of Vostok Battalion had invited us to join, he was enthusiastic. I actually mispronounced the name, saying “Sud Vremeny” instead of “Sut Vremeny”. “Sud Vremeny” in Russian means “Judgement Day”, which sounded like a cool name. We were all in. I did not know much about Суть Времени when I joined, only that they were highly regarded as warriors, Communist, and at least a couple of them spoke Spanish, so I could communicate with them. And that was enough for me.

(I have since learned quite a bit about the Essence of Time Movement, and am very proud to be a member. I agree completely with their goals and methods and truly trust and admire both the leadership and rank and file members. I truly believe it was destiny that brought me to this group, and I fully intend to maintain my membership for the rest of my life. It is a group that has the potential to change the world for the better. You can learn more about it here.)

During my two weeks at Yasynuvata, I had contracted a bad respiratory infection, a hacking cough with the neon mucous that has that hideous sweet taste when you spit it out. I was given some medicine by the medic, but it had little effect, so I just worked through it. Orion caught the same cold, and his was bad enough to be taken to the hospital back in Donetsk. Mine was just as bad, but I declined the hospital trip. Which meant I was going to the airport within the next 48 hours. I traded in my PKM for an AK-74 and four 30 round magazines. I was asked if I wanted a helmet and bulletproof vest. Well… Hell, yeah I did! I still had no idea what I would be facing at the airport, but I knew I was going to be getting shot at. I was given a marginal helmet with a broken chin strap, and an excellent Class IV steel vest, and told to be ready to leave at any time.

On the night of December 30th, I was told to be ready to go at 4AM the following morning. Orion, my only interpreter, was in the hospital, Toro would remain in Ysynavata for further training, and Alfonzo and Mars would not be returning to the airport for several days. I was on my own. I was going to be spending New Year’s Eve at the Donetsk Airport with a machine gun in my hands, and there were sure to be fireworks.