The country comes first: a blitz interview with B50 volunteers – defenders of Ukraine

Today, for the first time, we celebrate the Day of the Defenders of Ukraine and the Intercession of the Theotokos on October 1. Last year, our country finally managed to “win back” its Christian church calendar and leave behind the hybrid one created in the Soviet Union in the twentieth century. According to the New Julian calendar, which is more in line with our spirit, church holidays are celebrated 13 days earlier.

On the Day of the Defenders of Ukraine, the heroes of our blitz interviews are those who have chosen a special path of service and self-sacrifice, who have exchanged volunteer work gloves and buckets for armor and a machine gun.

Each hero of this material has their own path and their own reasons for becoming active defenders of their country. Of course, they are not the only ones in our community and state who are fighting back against the enemy. But through the prism of the positions of these three defenders, who initiated their service, were mobilized into the Armed Forces, or are just preparing to defend the country, we have the opportunity to convey valuable thoughts about the defense of Ukraine’s integrity, mutual support and patriotism, as well as the similarities and differences in volunteering and military service.

We would like to thank and bow to all our Defenders. Thank you for risking your safety so that we can live in peace and security! We wish you good health and a soon Victory!

P.S.: For security reasons, some facts about our heroes cannot be published. When sharing this material on social media and other platforms, please follow the basic rules of information security. In particular, please refrain from disclosing information about the heroes that is not part of this publication. Thank you for your understanding!

Maryna, combat medic of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

She became deeply involved in volunteering back in 2014. When the war broke out after the Revolution of Dignity, she was eager to defend the country, but could not join the army because of her young age.

– Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, I spent the entire year of 2022 in the de-occupied territories and in hot spots. I was involved in the evacuation of the population from Bakhmut and nearby settlements, helped in the hospital with wounded soldiers, and assisted with IDPs. I was engaged in rubble removal in the de-occupied territories and eventually joined the B50. Physical labor and understanding why you are doing it helped me to mentally unload after my trips to the east (of Ukraine – ed.). I also met some good people while volunteering with B50. It was nice to realize that we have a lot of thoughtful and sensitive citizens!

But at the end of 2022, I clearly decided that it was time to move on and do more. The war will not end by itself and will not end so soon. Perhaps this was partly due to the fact that I saw with my own eyes what was happening in the east of the country and remember how Kyiv region survived the occupation. I joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but I continue to communicate with many volunteers, coordinate and join volunteer initiatives remotely.

Human life has always been and remains important to me. You can rebuild a house, you can start a new life in a new place, but you cannot bring back a person. That’s why I chose the path of a combat medic: to save the lives of my brothers in arms, to always be there for them and to be a reliable support in battle.

What defense of the state and volunteering have in common is love for your country and your people. This is the main thing, this is national consciousness. I believe that today every citizen of the country should be involved, and we cannot stand aside during the war. We should not forget that it is ongoing. Even if someone lives in safe regions where only a siren sounds, or temporarily abroad, do not miss the collection for drones, cars and other important needs of the army. Even 10 to 20 UAH make a difference. If you can’t help financially, you can always help personally by volunteering. You can join volunteer groups, such as B50. This is a very important job, because many people lost their homes during the hostilities, and volunteers do not leave them in trouble and always come to their aid.

I want to thank everyone who has been defending the state since 2014. Thanks to you, we did not become part of the GULAG and slaves of a failed state that has been trying to destroy us for a long time. But we still have a lot of work to do, and unfortunately, it is very difficult. I am extremely grateful to every Ukrainian serviceman and servicewoman, and I am very proud to be among you.

Pavlo, a serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

He joined the army because of his sense of justice. It is difficult for him to accept the reality where people are killed, raped and maimed because they can. The guy was mobilized into the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in between our volunteer trips to Moshchun. However, even now, on his rare weekends, he returns to help clean up the aftermath of the enemy invasion and to socialize with his volunteer friends.

– The primitives decided that they had the right to do something outside the swamps. But the mental cigarette butts are also so whiny that they didn’t go to reclaim Alaska or save their swamps, which are already under Chinese control and whose expansion continues. No, they went to attack a country that is frankly smaller, with severely limited resources (compared to the mordor). And this is after 30 years (not without the help of our hypocrites) of trying to destroy Ukraine from within. Ew, f***!!! For me, it’s like if I (with my parameters) wanted to take away a candy from a first-grader, but pissed so much that I added alcohol to his juice at lunch, so he was even weaker!!!

I have this approach: if I don’t understand internally why I am, why I am here, and why I am here now, I start looking at external, often generalized signs. For example, I have hardly EVER done anything “stupid” or ” foolish” in my life (compared to others), so, what is the logic of a full-scale war with the use of all types of weapons, even in the twenty-first century, in my lifetime?! The answer is obvious: since we geographically coexist with an entity that always wants to destroy us, and we are still here and seem to be in shape, we probably have the ability (and therefore the task) to contain a nominally more powerful humus. And if it is during this period that I am here and I am healthy, then perhaps this is my responsibility…

I am not a willing volunteer, but I am motivated. I’m a pacifist, but not when all the boundaries are crossed. I am a representative of air defense, so task No. 1 is clear sky. And to be as ready as possible for a more practical defense of the state (it’s scary, but it can happen). The most valuable thing is my family and friends, as long as they are doing well and are at least relatively safe, my rear is strong.

Volunteering and defense have a lot in common – indifference, willingness to do something, change, personal responsibility, if we are talking about the positive aspects. But, unfortunately, there are also negative ones: to attach oneself to the majestic, mainstream, but somehow so cautiously that, God forbid, you have to work or take responsibility (on Facebook, everyone is a “volunteer”, “warrior” and “no time for trivialities”,  but in fact, 200 posts in EVERY social network, 20 disputes, 89 smoke breaks, 45 bakeries, 20 discos, and so on every day, tirelessly, without sparing your health; and to come to a hypothetical Moshchun and take out at least 50 wheelbarrows, there is “no time”, “there are things where I am more effective”, “I am a pain”). In the Armed Forces, it’s the same: “I won’t do it, because it’s hard”, “let someone else be responsible for my safety”, because “they can put me in jail”, and so – “yes, I am a military man, and I have a uniform, and a gun, and accordingly, I have goodies”… There is also a separate category of those who like to play short games, like to come once, maybe even work intensively, and that’s it: I am good, now I have 2 years of “well-deserved” rest. Unfortunately, the war is not about how much you can, but about how much you have to.

We have a new unit at a new location, so we need everything from hygiene products, clothing, mattresses, to special vehicles, construction materials and tools. However, we are now in relative safety (thanks to the funds raised by B50 community, in particular, for containers) and comfort, so the priority is the east and south. If you have something that is needed there, don’t hesitate to give it away, we are the 2nd and 3rd in line. Once again, I thank everyone for the containers, and Yuliia and Nastia for hygiene products, equipment, and help with the organization.

Difficult times – so are the wishes. Define yourself: where you are, who you are and how you are. If you have decided that you are here, then help. Do everything for a long game, efficiently and as much as possible. If you have fulfilled these two wishes, plan for rest and relaxation. This is mega-important because it is a resource to do long, high-quality work and a lot. Always remember what great times we live in and for whom/what all this is being done! Don’t forget about those who have already made up their minds and may have fallen in this fight. Give time and help those who are lagging behind to “mature”. Wake up those who have become relaxed and slowed down (unless, of course, it’s a normal worker’s vacation). Don’t start sh*t talk if it’s not fun, relaxation, or sublimation. Be honest at least with yourself! If you are scared, then say so: “I’m scared, but I’m motivated, I can do this and that, even under fear.” We wish you all success!

Di, a B50 fan and student at a military academy

It was her desire to pick up a rifle that introduced her to the B50. It happened in the first months of the full-scale invasion: she was one of those who had been begging at the doorsteps of military commissariats and Territorial Defense Headquarters since the February 24, 2022, and in this crowd she met the future founders of our community.

Instead of sitting and waiting for her time, she chose to volunteer. Due to certain circumstances, she was unable to join the army, so she spent several months preparing for and entering a military academy.

– My life is now an endless wheel of training. As a future officer, I understand the responsibility of commanders, and therefore I am developing in all areas of military affairs. Now I am engaged in the education and training of personnel, and I need to constantly improve my skills, knowledge and abilities myself.

In addition, organizational issues have not been canceled: there is an agreement to be made, a project to be written, a schedule to be agreed upon, etc. The work is really difficult, but I like it. I realize that at this stage, while I have time, I have the opportunity to train future officers to defend our country.

In my opinion, our volunteers are the defenders of the rear. People who can change the country. Due to the full-scale war, hundreds of thousands of people joined the volunteer movement. I know for sure that if it were not for volunteers, it would be very difficult for us. Volunteers are like superheroes: if you need a camouflage net, they will make it. Getting a drone or a pickup truck? Easy. To help civilians psychologically, legally, medically or physically? Yes, it’s easy. Nothing is impossible for volunteers. Volunteers have become part of the defense of our country. Their help is hard to overestimate. Personally, I have respect and gratitude for the volunteers for what they do.

On the Day of Defenders of Ukraine, I would like to wish you not to forget why we are doing all this, no matter how difficult it is. I wish you resilience, endurance, courage and firmness. We must do everything in our power to ensure that future generations live in a free and independent country.

Join the defense of Ukraine!