Heroes of Ukraine. Senior soldier Viktor together with his comrades destroyed dozens of Russian equipment with M777 guns
During the year of the full-scale Russian invasion, Viktor served in aerial reconnaissance, with American guns, and now he tells about the brigade units’ operation on the front line
Espreso TV tells Viktor’s story.
His father set an example for him to join the army
Viktor is a senior soldier with the 45th separate artillery brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He joined the army after the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. In civilian life, he worked with cameras and drones. He shot videos, edited them, and created commercials. He continued his work in the army.
"The news was always saying that Kyiv needed people who could fly drones," Viktor recalls. "In civilian life, I was shooting videos and doing aerial photography. So I went to the military enlistment office and told them what I could do. Besides, I had recently completed my military service. My father also gave me the impetus to join the army. He served in Afghanistan and returned to service in his sixties. He became an example for me."
Viktor is a computer science teacher by profession. In civilian life, he worked for 6 months at the Ternopil Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled. Unfortunately, according to the soldier, the salary was not sufficient, so he had to change something. Viktor worked abroad for several years, and then became interested in videography. A year before the full-scale war, he had just started working in Ukraine. But that didn't stop him, and in the first days of the full-scale invasion, Viktor was already at the military registration and enlistment office.
"I more or less understood what awaited me in the army, because I did my conscript service in 2016," says Viktor. "There was nothing new for me in the training. We practiced aiming guns and at the same time worked on a busola. This is a device that helps to orient the gun before firing to hit the target. I studied this while serving in the army. It so happened that there were no instructors then, and I was the only one who had experience with this device. So I had to teach others."
The brigade eliminated dozens of Russian soldiers within 20 minutes
Soon Viktor was already at the frontline. His first deployment was to the Zaporizhzhia region. As a reconnaissance man. The job was close to civilian life, as he worked with a drone.
"I went with a group on combat missions," Viktor says about his work. "Since I was new, I worked as an assistant at first. I got familiar with their work. After all, just shooting video is not quite the same as flying a drone and scouting enemy territory. So I traveled with them and learned. We were given tasks, a vehicle and a drone to go on missions. We made up our own route, thought about where to stand, where to deploy the drone, and where we would fly."
During Viktor's first combat mission, Russian troops launched mortar fire on their positions. They had just arrived, laid out, took off and Russian soldiers started shooting.
"We arrived at the infantry positions and the shelling started,” Viktor says. “We were all lying down and then realized that no one was piloting the drone, it was just hovering. Five minutes passed and an infantryman came out of the dugout and said, "Get up, the shelling is over.” I said, “What do you mean “get up”, the shelling just came very close.” They replied, “Once you live here for a while, you’ll get used to it. “I had never experienced such a thing before, but for them it was common. I was very surprised by this. How can it be normal when you can die at any moment?"
When I work, I forget that I am on the front line
While working with drones, Viktor had to reconnoiter the territory controlled by Russian troops on many occasions. Or to adjust fire.
"Drones next to artillery are very important. They can reduce the number and accuracy of shots tenfold," Viktor emphasizes. "Accordingly, the rate of destruction and the number of shots changes. For artillery, this is an inseparable thing. Working without aerial reconnaissance is like throwing money down the drain. About a hundred shells to destroy a target used to be the norm, but now it's a great luxury. And if there are adjustments, we can destroy the target with ten shells."
During the full-scale Russian war, Viktor had to work in south and east Ukraine. In addition to drones, he also mastered the American M777 guns. With the help of these weapons, he managed to destroy more than a dozen equipment units.
"In the Zaporizhzhia region, we were working on an industrial facility where there was a very large concentration of enemy equipment, armored personnel carriers, tanks and fuel trucks," Viktor says about the battle. "More than ten, for sure. We successfully destroyed a large number of these vehicles with our guns. The guys who were scouts had a task to reconnoiter an industrial facility. They flew over, we recorded, photographed, videotaped, analyzed and found that there was a lot of equipment there. We pointed several guns at them and destroyed a large amount of equipment within 20 minutes. Usually, in most cases, we managed to destroy the target. Because with the help of drones, we can operate quickly and accurately."
After his combat successes at the front line, Viktor managed to return to his favorite profession. Now he uses his camera to film the work of the military on the front line. Together with his commander, they created the "Clean Thursday" column. Every week, they visited one of the frontline units and talked about the soldiers who are destroying the occupying forces on Ukrainian soil. By the fall of 2022, he had traveled the entire front line and spoke about the work of each unit. Viktor is modest about his own contribution at the front line. His commander talks about the soldier's courage and enthusiasm.
"When Viktor is working, he forgets that he is on the front line," says Vsevolod Kazmiruk, the brigade's press officer. "There are very few people who can capture emotions. And he does this job flawlessly. He tries to convey the atmosphere of the front line through the camera lens as much as possible. I remember the moment when correspondents from France arrived in the summer. We went with them to the combat positions and approached the cannon. After the first shot was fired, they were already a hundred meters away, and Viktor was filming a live shot under the cannon. He is constantly on the front line under fire. Shelling or not, he's filming."
All photos: 45th separate artillery brigade
"I work with faith in victory," Viktor emphasizes, "so I work to make Ukrainians aware of our soldiers who are fighting the occupiers. We have to talk about our work, about our brave soldiers who are fighting against all odds. No one will do it for us. We are trying to convey that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not a phenomenon that appeared out of nowhere and protects us. These are ordinary people who yesterday were doctors, attorneys, and lawyers, and now they are working with guns and assault rifles in their hands, in the trenches, protecting people."
Today, Viktor is proud to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to contribute to Ukraine’s victory. He is confident in the country’s victory.
"Once we win this war, I will definitely respect myself for my choice," Viktor is convinced. “I believe that every person born in Ukraine is obliged to do everything to help win this war. I am not saying that everyone has to join the Armed Forces. Those who are braver go to war, and those who are not so brave should try to help as much as possible where they are. In this area or in the place where they can do it."