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I hope that each of us won't forget horrors and pain caused by Russia - fighter with 14th Brigade, Ukraine: The Price of Freedom special project

22 August, 2023 Tuesday

Krymske, Zaitseve, Zolote are the positions that the deputy commander with the 14th Detached Mechanized Brigade named after Prince Roman the Great, Serhiy Mazorchuk (Irys), has held during the Russian-Ukrainian war. He was deployed there in 2015 and is still defending Ukraine's borders

Serhiy dreamed of becoming a military man when he was ten years old. At the age of 15, he entered the Ostroh Military Lyceum in the Rivne region. It was his conscious choice. But his great-grandmother wanted it that way, too, the man admits. His parents are not military people. Only his late grandfather served in the army.

According to Serhiy, the educational institution made it clear what the army was like. There was strict discipline there. Boys were expelled even for smoking. And the level of education was higher compared to a regular school. From there, he immediately entered the National Army Academy named after Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi. It was 2011. Serhiy remembers that he could not even imagine that there would be a war with Russia. No one considered this country an enemy. People thought about the possibility of conflicts between Russia and Western Europe, but definitely not in Ukraine.

When the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out in 2014, Serhiy was still studying. He was supposed to graduate the following year. There was no question of early graduation, but the events in Debaltseve happened and the guys were told that they had to graduate faster. Then intensive training began, and in 2015, in early March, Serhiy was already on the ground as part of the 24th Detached Mechanized Brigade named after King Danylo. For eight years, Serhiy Mazorchuk has been through various combat spots in the East. He spent a year in the area of Krymske. Then there was a rotation in Zaitseve near Horlivka. There were very fierce battles there, as the distance between the Ukrainian military and the enemy was 70 to 110 meters. And then - the positions in Zolote, from where, as a battalion commander, he managed to bring more than three hundred subordinates out of the encirclement. Now the man is still at his positions, defending Ukraine. Currently, he is the Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander of the 14th Detached Mechanized Brigade named after Prince Roman the Great.

Serhiy, why was it important for you to join the army?

I consciously chose the profession of a serviceman in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. That is, the fate of a soldier. In 2014, when I was a third-year student, Russia's open aggression against Ukraine began. First Crimea, then Donbas. So even then I clearly understood what awaited me, what I should prepare for, what responsibility I had. After all, the army defends its state and its people, so my destiny and purpose as a soldier is to defend Ukraine and Ukrainians. So, soon after graduation, I started serving in one of the mechanized brigades as a platoon commander.

What do you think this war means for Ukraine's development in general and for liberation from the Russian yoke in particular?

Of course, the war with Russia did not begin in 2014, and certainly not in 2022. This war has been going on for centuries. Only its phases were different. The Cossacks' resistance to the destruction of the Sich, the UPR army that resisted the Muscovites, the Russian and Soviet genocide of the Ukrainian people, the famines in Ukraine, the evictions and camps where entire families and villages were taken away, the forced imposition of communist ideology, Ukrainian dissidents... The list goes on and on. And at each of these stages, Ukrainians fought as best they could. And now we have a unique historical chance to destroy our eternal enemy, who understands only the language of force and weapons, once and for all. And rest assured, we will use this chance.

What will this war ultimately change in Ukraine?

I hope that each of us, as well as our children, will never forget the horrors and pain that Russia has caused us. And none of us will ever call Russians "brothers".

What would you say about the reaction of Ukrainians to the war?

Being at the front, we feel the extraordinary support of the Ukrainian people, as well as the support of our partners from the West. Moreover, the enemy state and its leader, strange as it may seem, have done a lot for our unity and statehood with their atrocities and their lowliness. We have no West and no East, no Northern, Southern or Central Ukraine. Since February 24, 2022, we have had a united Ukraine and a united Ukrainian people. However, it is a shame to realize that many people in Ukraine have forgotten about the war because "it is far away and does not concern them." And they only remember it when a Russian missile hits their city, God forbid. And there are those in Ukraine who are still "waiting for Russia." Fortunately, there are few of them. But, unfortunately, they do exist.

A full-scale war has been going on for over a year. At what cost do we liberate the territories?

It's no secret that Russia is sending its worst people, including convicts, to the front. So to speak, it disposes of the garbage. Instead, Ukraine is being defended by its best sons and daughters, conscious patriots who understand who and what they are fighting for. Therefore, when our defender dies in combat, it is a huge loss for the entire Ukrainian people, for the entire state. So, yes, Ukrainian territories are liberated at a very high price.

How would you like to see Ukraine after the victory?

After the victory, of course, I would like to see Ukraine as a free, independent, united and prosperous state. We are on a clear course to Europe, which makes me very happy as a citizen of Ukraine. And as a military man, I would very much like to see Ukraine join NATO. More than 30 years ago, in 1991, we made our choice, but we did not support and defend it. Now it is important for us not to make the same mistake - to defend, withstand, win, rebuild, develop, be with the civilized world, living in our prosperous, peaceful Ukraine.

For reference. The material was created as part of The Price of Freedom special project, which is published on all Espreso platforms and dedicated to Independence Day. In the special project, we analyze various aspects of Ukraine's path, from the declaration of independence to the present, look at future prospects and scenarios for development after the victory, show the face of independent Ukraine and talk about the price our country has to pay for freedom and independence.

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