State Research and Test Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was relocated from Feodosiya to Chernihiv in spring 2014. Officers-patriots were evacuated by the transport of "Motor Sich" enterprise and by personal cars. All in all, about 15% of the personnel have come to the mainland. The greater part of them is research associates. So, the backbone of the center as of a scientific and research establishment has been preserved.
Officer of the State Research and Test Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Captain III rank Yurii Litkovets is a unique person. He is one of the four experts in the Armed Forces of Ukraine who received qualification of "diving specialist" with the right to teach and certify. He hasn't betrayed the Motherland in the Crimea and defended its will in Donbas. He can think like an analyst and find inventive solutions for complicated issues. Slim posture, energetic pace and strong-willed face. People call such persons - a born warrior!
The night from February 25 to February 26, 2014, Yurii will remember for a long time. That day, first columns of Russian troops entered the territory of the Crimea. Nobody knew, what happened: separation among Ukrainian officers, the Navy of Ukraine treaded to pieces, mockery of all the Ukrainian…But among all this meanness, there was real human dignity and officer's honor – servicemen loyal to Ukraine came back to the mainland, leaving houses and even their old parents. Yurii Litkovets was among them.
– Before the occupation of the Peninsula, Ukrainian and Russian servicemen lived as friends, maintained personal contacts and exchanged experience. Our ships stayed side by side in Sebastopol. But that day everything changed. Occupants were ready to kill. Despite that, Ukrainian officers-patriots were going to resist the enemy. The truth was on our side, – Yurii told. – The next morning, I sent my wife and little daughter to the mainland Ukraine. I had my own "map of war" in my head. Watching the adversary's "Iskander" moving on the road, I've already imagined, how to make ambushes for them. I phoned my fellows and said: "Why are you just sitting? Let's act, our land is in danger." I still waited that my comrades will come and help. But nobody answered. Some of them even went over to the enemy. It became clear – the war can begin every moment. My heart ached because of the traitors, with whom I served side by side.
"It is sacred to save comrades-in-arms"
After the State Research and Test Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was relocated to Chernihiv oblast, the personnel started its work from the very beginning. Soon, the establishment started to work in full swing. At the same time, the anti-terrorist operation was launched in the East of Ukraine. The Center, as it should be, started to develop and search modern means and samples of armament to provide ATO. Officers also received additional work. In May-June, 2014, Yurii frequently went for missions to Chuhuyev airfield. This landing area was a permanent base for rotation of Ukrainian warriors. There, he met his comrades, with whom they served together in the Special Forces troops. – During another trip to Chuhuyev in July, 2014, I met a friend, my former commander. He was very upset about the events in the East and felt nervous for his fellows, which left for search of the crew of our helicopter to the border area of Luhansk oblast, – Litkovets remembers. – Having received a great amount of means of air defense from the Russian army, "Strily", the combatants have frequently shot down our helicopters then. Three days have already passed, but the group didn't come back. Later on, the fellows came on the radio. They informed that they had found pilots, but they couldn't leave the warfare zone, because adversary's terrorist groups hunted for them. They needed help.
"We need to do something to save the warriors", – the commander said. Immediately, we made up the operation plan. In order to distract the militants, which were missioned to detect and destroy our soldiers along with the crew, Yura and the commander invented a shrewd maneuver – to ascend a helicopter and throw parachutists down. Since the period of service in Khmelnytskii, the commander knew the level of proficiency and bravery of his subordinate. Even the codename "Ruchiiok" remained with Yurii since those times. The commander asked Litkovets, whether he wished to work in real combat. The latter answered without any doubts: "I can! The main thing is to save our comrades-in-arms. It is sacred."
"But remember, you'll have to run very quickly, in order to attract the attention of separatists. But you'll make it. I know it!" – the commander added.
– It was very risky to lift the Mi-8 helicopter then. Combatants could have shot it. They decided to use Mi-24. This combat helicopter was distinguished exactly for the tasks of this group. I came around the helicopter, assessed the situation, thought over, how to make it professionally, because nobody has ever experienced such jumps. But, having experience in parachuting from An-2, An-26, Il-76, B-12, Mi-14 PS, I dared to do that. I took my friend with me. He is also a good paratrooper. I didn't tell him, where we flew. After a short training, we got off the ground on Mi-24 and parachuted from it, – "Ruchiiok" told smiling. – After we landed, we had immediately dressed into civil clothes. We had to run, disguise and hide for about 5 hours. Each of us had only one gun. But, despite all this, we managed to reach the defined point. A civil car has already waited for us there. We fulfilled the task. Our warriors have successfully escaped from the possible encirclement. Later on, we met each other, and they thanked us for work.
As we found out later, the acts of Yurii and his comrade have really triggered panic among separatist groups. In a several days, friends of Litkovets told him that, when the helicopter ascended and two parachutists jumped out of it, the units of the Russian regular army deployed near our borders were alerted.
Winter roads of the "hot Donbas"
From October, 2014 till March, 2015, Yurii Litkovets took direct participation in the anti-terrorist operation within 140th separate center of the Special Operation Forces. Together with comrades, he saved warriors of the 32nd checkpoint from encirclement, carried out tasks near Horlivka and Dzerzhynsk, in the area of Donetsk airport, in Debaltseve, Shyrokyne and in Luhansk oblast. During that period of time, he fulfilled more than 30 special and 10 reconnaissance operations on all the frontline sectors and in the adversary's rear.
– There was a lot of combat work. Particularly, there was much work near the Donetsk airport and in the nearby towns. Russian Terrorist Forces attacked the airfield from everywhere. It was foggy. We remembered well about cautiousness and discipline. We were like a strong fist. Each of us understood: if we got involved into skirmish with the enemy, there will be a battle, shooting and there will be dead. But our task was to maximize losses of the adversary, – Yurii was sure. – Sometimes, it happened that, while carrying out the assigned tasks, we expected to go for 3-4 hours, but then stayed even for 6 days. At war, it is impossible to do everything according to the plan, that's why the time factor becomes the crucial one. Despite all that, such hard men's work steeled us and made us stronger.
Yurii received another military rank "captain III rank" prescheduled for successful fulfillment of combat tasks. The Minister of Defense of Ukraine has personally handed him an insignia of "Firearms". He was also granted the Ministry of the Defense of Ukraine award "For military valor", an honorary lapel badge of the Chief of the General Staff – the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "For achievements in military service", II degree and high state award – Bohdan Kmelnytskiy Order, III degree.
Rem – loyal and reliable
Yurii hasn't told parents about his trips to Donbas. He didn't want them worry. Together with his wife, they kept everything in secret. When the parents asked where he was, Yura answered that he was at the military exercise. But mother's heart has probably felt some anxiety. The 2015 approached. He told his mother and father that he was going home to the celebration. Despite that, he asked some volunteer friends to bring his loyal friend from home – his dog Rem. The dog had to help and calm the parents. And it really worked.
– Before leaving the Crimea, I bought a dog. A fox terrier is a very rare breed of dogs. Rem is my big helper. I strongly protected him. Everyone in the family knew that. I congratulated my parents on the New Year's holidays. Having heard the dog's barking on the phone, they really believed that their son was at home… We experienced many hot points with my reliable Rem after that, – Yurii told.
The man is proud of his family: his wife, who always supports him and inspires for good deeds, and his daughter. The smile of a child and joy of the family is the biggest reward for him ever. So, the free time Yurii tries to devote to his family. But still, he doesn't forget about his hobby – hunting.
– Secrecy and disguise are the main elements in my work. Being a professional, I must be ten times more attentive and stronger than the enemy. That's why I need permanent trainings. And that is why I choose forest and hunting. You would ask why. The beast is my adversary, expert and judge, whose life is at the stake. Your result really depends on the way you allow him to approach you, the way you successfully shoot, the way you hunt and feel him, – the officer explains.
… Captain III rank Yurii Litkovets remembers war by minutes, not just by days. But, despite all the experienced moments, he doesn't regret about anything. Without any doubts, he is eager to come back to war and fulfill his duty to protect Ukraine again. He wants to make everything possible for the peace to be settled. He will always be the first to come to help the fellows in danger. He is sure that his comrades-in-arms will act the same.