Russia’s war in Ukraine has been characterized by tragedy, brutality and a war of wills, but no campaign in Ukraine has shown that more than the seven-month battle for Kharkiv, a commander told Fox News.
“If people want to fully understand this war,” said Roman Hryshchenko, commander of the 127th Brigade of the Kharkiv Regional Defense Forces, speaking from a post in Kharkiv, “there is no war between Ukraine and Russia.”
“It’s a good fight. [and] Evil,” he said.
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Moscow believed that its large military force would be able to quickly take over Ukraine after its February 24 invasion, but Kharkiv – known as Ukraine’s “eastern gateway” – proved to be a The desire to fight with the strength of a soldier.
“When we talk about the 127th brigade, it should be understood that before the full-scale offensive, almost all of them had never held weapons in their hands,” he said, translated by the Ukrainian Frontline media platform. said in an interview.
Hryshchenko, known to his soldiers as “Uncle Roma,” explained that the 127th Brigade was formed as a volunteer force after the Russian invasion, with only 30 percent of its soldiers having military experience in eastern Ukraine. .
“The rest are completely civilians,” he said of the roughly 5,000-strong fighting force. “More than 70 percent [had] They never had weapons in their hands but those who came to defend their land.
Despite its best efforts, Moscow was unable to fully capture Kharkiv – a defeat made all the more impressive by the fact that the Ukrainian region shares a border with Russia.
However, its proximity to Russia meant that the brigade would see continuous brutal combat not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe since World War II.
By February 26, two days after Moscow’s “special military operation” began, top US defense officials estimated that the “heaviest fighting” was taking place in and around Kharkiv.
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Two days later, Human Rights Watch found that Russian forces were already using the banned weapon by deploying cluster munitions on civilian targets.
However, the brutality that Kharkiv witnessed in the early days of the war was only the beginning, in what would appear to be a David vs. Goliath battle.
Another three months would pass in the area, as fighting stalled after the brigade successfully launched a counterattack and pushed Russian troops back to their national lines.
The British Ministry of Defense attributed this to Russia’s “inability” to understand the level of resistance it received from civilian populations across Ukraine.
“You know Kharkiv very badly,” Hryshchenko said, explaining why the region is so difficult for invading forces to capture despite its proximity to Russia. “Our people are made of iron and concrete.”
“The enemy is not fighting our army, it is fighting the civilian population,” he added.
Russian forces will grow weary of their limited ground advance and launch a heavy shelling campaign over the summer, while Kyiv urged its citizens to remain tight-lipped as reports surfaced. That a major counterattack is taking place.
Milli urged Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, saying the prospect of a total military victory was ‘impossible’.
The 127th Brigade launched its long-awaited offensive in early September.
Several factors enabled the brigade’s success, including the training of soldiers and the armament of Western weapons.
Within two weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had “victory” from the front lines, marching down the city center.
Fox News was told that a successful campaign by the civilian-to-military brigade would be important not only for Kharkiv, but also for security assurances across Ukraine.
“Our unit was tasked with intercepting enemy forces, ensuring fire activity, and preventing Russian reserves from moving south to reinforce the line of advance,” Hryshchenko said. had to be tied.”
The brigade is now tasked with securing the “Eastern Gate” from further Russian aggression.
“Since the beginning of the war, this city has been called Stalingrad 2022. We have survived, we are standing,” the head of the Kharkiv military garrison, Brigadier General of Justice Serhii Mykolaivitch Melnyk, told Fox News.
“What can break Kharkiv or Ukraine? Nothing,” he added.
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The brigadier general said his forces “expect rudeness” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He will not calm down, not at all, and we know and expect that he will try to do something,” he added. “We are fully prepared for it.”