The Belarusian volunteer calls on the military to turn their weapons against Lukashenka.
An associate of political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, Narodnaya Hramada activist Valiantsin Trokski is fighting on the frontline in Ukraine.
The commander of the AFU unit advised the Belarusian military to make the right choice in an interview with Charter97.org.
- You were born in Ukraine, but you've been actively fighting for freedom in Belarus, coming out to protest. What do you feel more: Ukrainian or Belarusian?
- I was born in Ukrainian Zhytomyr, but I'm a citizen of Belarus. So for me, these two countries are equal in importance. I don't have a feeling that I belong to one country more or to another one less. For me, the two countries are equally precious, important and significant. I have made many friends in Belarus, many of whom are now in prison because of unjust sentences. They were imprisoned for thinking differently than the government wants them to think.
I was lucky to stay free, so I can do more good now, which is what I am doing. Being in the Ukrainian Armed Forces I am now fighting against the Russian Federation, which is currently the source of evil for the whole world. I am fighting as part of the Kalinouski Regiment, namely the Terror Battalion. Our battalion is called by such a scary word not because we have some special methods, but because our good friend, brother-in-arms, who had the call-sign "Terror", died. That is why we named our battalion after him.
- Is the Kalinouski Regiment a continuation of the struggle that began in Belarus?
- Certainly. We were trying to change the situation in Belarus peacefully, despite that they were using weapons against us, killing our comrades. Back then, I was deeply convinced that it was a road to nowhere.
Taking into account many factors, I had to coordinate my actions with the general trend. For example, when some aggravation started, and I was just trying to show that I would move to some harsher methods of repulsion, there were some people somewhere behind me who started calling me a provocateur. And it was very unpleasant.
You know, when the enemy is against you - it's one thing. But it's another thing to have people of your views, opinions, like-minded people. I do not know what kind of people they are. They tended to speak in a very pure Russian language. It is a mystery to me where they came from in such large numbers, but there were plenty of them.
There were also very big questions about the volunteer movement. When Narodnaya Hramada together with European Belarus went to Akrestsina in an attempt to release our prisoners, there was a belt of volunteers who attacked us with their fists. It was very unpleasant, strongly interfered with our plans and still causes certain associations and bad thoughts. There were all sorts of things.
However, now I have the opportunity, alongside my brothers, to confront our enemies with weapons. At this stage we are resisting Russia's aggression against Ukraine. But, of course, in the future we want to participate in the liberation of Belarus from the Lukashenka dictatorship. I think we will be the real main force that can actually do something. Enough of all this talk, of these attempts to make everything peaceful. The good should have fists. And in this case the good side also has weapons, and that's a good thing.
- What is the opinion of the Ukrainian fighters about the Belarusian volunteers?
- We often meet with the AFU on the front line, and they have a very high opinion of us. I was surprised that you just do your job, and they say "you're good". Maybe they encourage us in such a way, but it's too much.
It seems that this is actually the case. Belarusians are very highly motivated in what we do. We try to be the best.
- If you can, tell us about the battles you've been to.
- At this point I've had enough of them. I am the commander of a mortar unit, we have a company mortar of the 82nd calibre. Since it is not a long-range mortar, I have to approach enemy positions as close as possible and fire from there. When the firing starts, the enemy responds very quickly. And if we fire ten shells, we get a hundred back, or even more, and they have no limits in this respect. The impression is that the enemy's resources are endless. But we work more accurately, we aim better, we plan the operation more precisely.
The idea is that when they start working on you and your crew has managed to fire ten or sixteen mines, you know you have twenty more. The shells are already flying at you, but you have to do your job. At the end of the series, we run back to the shelter, realizing that we still have enough targets and enough mines to use effectively. And we realize that they are going to work on us in return.
In order not to violate certain principles and regulations, I will not mention for the moment the town where one of these battles took place. On one outing, we ran out under enemy fire five times, fired on and then hid again. We waited until the shelling calmed down and then we ran out again, worked and then hid again. The Lord was on our side, because no one was injured. Although they were shooting at us very hard and from everything they could. There were such "arrivals" that even experienced AFU fighters, who had been on the front line longer than us, did not understand what was working against us. It was the most memorable battle.
Then we drove out in complete darkness from under fire into the safe zone, because when you turn on the light you become a very good target. And locations were not very familiar to us. Orcs, as we call them, were both to the left and right and to the rear. You have a direction, and there are many roads to take. And you have to choose the right path to avoid being shot at, you have to leave your position in the right direction. And everything then turned out as planned.
This operation is remembered as our most dangerous and most successful offence. Later, the spotters told us that we had hit several observation posts. A mine even hit a BMP, which was eventually put out of action. And that is a very big deal for a mortar crew. We did a lot of damage and made a lot of noise there. We even managed to cover the retreat of the Ukrainian armed forces' SRG, which was leaving one of the regions after completing its combat mission. After that our unit was awarded special chevrons in a festive atmosphere at the base.
- How do you assess the processes taking place at the front, at what stage is the war now?
- At the very beginning of the war, Russia, using the tactics of raids in certain directions, made a huge mistake, hoping that they would easily manage to reach Kyiv. The AFU managed to repel the attack effectively. Again, without a clear-cut front, by deploying its combat units in the right places, Ukraine repulsed the advancing Russian forces.
Now the war has become more positional, with clearly established front lines. In some places, there are low-intensity fighting, in other places, there are very active battles. It reminds one of the stories of the Second World War, or even the First World War, that have already been read about in books and seen many times in films, where two enemies are facing each other at some distance. Such positional warfare tends to be a long one. Various types of attacks, artillery raids and individual small arms battles are conducted. All this leads to different results in different cases.
Certainly, the nature of the war is noticeably different from what it was at the beginning. This is probably a necessary stage, I think. I certainly wish we could get these bastards dealt with sooner, but what we are doing what we can.
- You're one of the closest associates of Mikalai Statkevich, a real officer and leader of the Belarusian opposition. If Statkevich were at large today, what would he do?
- Mikalai Statkevich is a very significant person for me, given that he's, firstly, a military man and, secondly, has extensive political experience. And this is not just my deep conviction. I hear it from my comrades, when we're talking and discussing the events in Belarus, how it all could have developed. Everybody knows that history does not allow the subjunctive mood. But if (this is the opinion of those around me) Statkevich were still at large, the whole history of Belarus might develop in a completely different way and in the right direction.
Our party, Narodnaya Hramada, has a program which describes in detail the aspirations we were expressing even before the events of the year 2020. They remain valid. We see Belarus as a free, democratic country, friendly to all its neighbours. The country should have a parliamentary-presidential form of government, the powers and functions of the president should be significantly reduced. The basic three power structures - judicial, executive and legislative, should have absolute freedom.
Had Statkevich been at large, we would most likely be living in a free Belarus by now, in union with Ukraine against Russia, against this source of hell.
- How realistic is the attack of Lukashenka on Ukraine?
- I don't like to make predictions, because until February 23 I thought all this talk about the possibility of an all-out Russian attack on Ukraine was groundless and vain. I am not Vanga, I do not try to make predictions.
I can only say what I want. I want this war to end as soon as possible. As my mother says, she is a believer: "May God forgive everyone." I add: "Those who repent from the Orcs' side." It's hard to predict what will really happen. I only believe in an absolute victory of Ukraine. Strategically Ukraine has already won, only the tactics need to be improved. Since Putin and his horde have not reached Kyiv, it means that we have already lost. The whole civilized world is helping us, huge sanctions have been imposed on Russia and so on. Seeing all this, I understand that Ukraine will win.
- What would you say to the Belarusian military who might be sent to this war after all?
- They already understand that the real brothers are Ukrainians. Russia has nothing to do with us. There is no need to fight with Russia against Ukraine. But I know that there are all kinds of possibilities of coercion. The Belarusian military, at best, must adhere to neutrality. If they fail to do so and are driven to this massacre, they should surrender. If they surrender to the Ukrainians, they will have the opportunity in the future either simply not to participate in the war, or to fight on the side of justice against the dictatorship, against evil. The best option would, of course, be an uprising in Belarus, with the Belarusian military turning their weapons against the Lukashenka regime, which is driving the people of Belarus into this state of stalemate.