April of 2014. A group of warriors from a Special Force regiment was redeployed from Donetsk airport to the weapon storage base in Paraskoviyivka village, not far from Artemivsk (nowadays - Bahmut) for reinforcement purposes. SF unit commander Artem Lomov (alias “Kytai”) flew in with the battalion commander (codename “Redut”) and 15 other warriors.
Without sufficient time to settle in they learned that the Commander of a unit of Combat Vehicle Arsenal Support Center was severely wounded and taken prisoner during a clash with militants. SF servicemen receive a new mission - to liberate the officer and send him to the rear area.
How he was found and liberated is the plot of another story. But that was only the beginning of the difficulties SF servicemen encountered. In the ten-kilometer radius there were only two units - Center in Artemivsk and arsenal in Paraskoviyivka - which remained under the blue-yellow flag. Otherwise, the region was infested with detachments of separatists-terrorists. This made the transportation of the severely wounded colonel to the place of evacuation by helicopter a challenging task…
The liberated Colonel Chobitok and a paramedic were placed in a civil “Volha”. A UAZ-series medical vehicle with SF servicemen followed. The “Cortege” rushed head-on past the enemy check point. Speed and the element of suddenness became the main “trumps” of Ukrainians.
The plan worked: the “Volha” shot past the militants. SF servicemen were about to turn back when they saw that the separatists made a dash for an APC to follow in pursuit. Ten Ukrainian warriors shot out from UAZ and took up positions around the car. Fighting broke out…
Within a few minutes, one of the warriors noticed that the commander’s “pixel” [color of uniform] was reddening from blood. Via portable radio transmitter the officer said: “Guys, hold on, I’m losing consciousness…”
Artem dashed to the commander. Bullets whistling some centimeters away from his ear and the jingle of ricochets, exploding grenades – he remembers all of this as if he were in a slow-motion movie. How he remained uninjured amidst the commotion remains a mystery to him. On that scorching day he was wearing only a T-shirt and a chest rack, without any form of protection.
He dressed the wound and put the commander’s leg in splints, then pulled him towards UAZ. When the attack was repelled, they quickly moved towards the arsenal: due to substantial blood loss the commander had already turned pale.
The huge depot of armament (which had been stored there since the times of the Soviet Union) presented a particular interest for the Russian militants. The number of weapons exceeded more than one hundred thousand, including weapons from the times of the First and Second World War as well as modern samples of weapons. SP servicemen set up nests and secrets posts.
The following night, the observers reported:
– One KamAZ is in close proximity to the unit. It has a Russian flag. What should I do?
A few seconds… Maybe, they are our guys under cover? Armed to the teeth militants poured out of the truck and encircled part of the servicemen. At once an assault broke out.
Artem and his guys equipped themselves within a minute. Even the wounded commander, who refused to be evacuated to hospital, left his bed and took up arms. The weapons base was under fire the whole night. And all this time “Redut” was at the head of repulsing the assault.
– I’m not surprised that he is Hero of Ukraine. You can not imagine what kind of man is he! – Artem says.
Separatists were pelted with grenades, they were shelled from machine guns. They retreated, leaving their wrecked KamAZ behind. When SF servicemen inspected it, they gasped: there were grenade launchers, an ATG, guns of heavy gage…
Some time later, the terrorists attempted to assault the arsenal again. This time, T-64 tank and infantry went on the offensive under mortar fire support. But this attempt failed as well. Our warriors forced the enemy mortar to fall silent, separated the infantry and brewed up the enemy tank.
But this was only the beginning. From that day on, the separatists did not stop their assaults even for a day. Artemivsk arsenal became one of the hottest spots in Donbas.
To protect themselves against the seizing of artillery depots by terrorists, the command made a decision to mine them.
This task was assigned to Artem and 4 other warriors from his unit, as he had completed a six-month sapper’s course in Kirovograd.
The explosives were to be delivered by helicopter. To perform this task, the warriors had to cross two kilometers of filed damaged by shells. The route went past militants.
That was the first night of calm in Paraskoviyivka over several months. The militants did not notice how our warriors were dragging the dangerous cargo to the unit.
– Those few hours seemed like an eternity to us. If the separatists had noticed movement on the field and opened fire, they would not have left a single trace of us being there, – Artem says.
Mine laying works in the territory of the base were perfectly masked by the noise of the big air-shaft, the noise which nobody paid attention to…
Some time later, SF servicemen took the building of the Security Service of Ukraine in Artemivsk (where the militant’s leaders sat) by storm and raised the Ukrainian flag over the town.
When the Artemivsk saga was over Artem returned to the regiment to relinquish his position: in a couple of days he would have to go to Lviv, to apply to the Academy of Ground Forces. In the regiment, documents were being prepared to award Artem and his comrades, but the warriors never saw those orders. Upon a petition from the Head of Academy of Ground Forces, Artem (a distinguished student of the 3rd year of studies and a deputy platoon commander by that time) was presented with an award from the President – medal of “Defender of Homeland”. It is not the same as an order, but the young man does not complain. He is happy that he is alive. Moreover, he has almost achieved his long-nurtured dream – to become an officer. His only regret is that other worthy guys from the regiment did not receive well-deserved rewards. Most of them are still fighting in the East without requesting awards, - they are merely performing their duty.