On Friday, April 4, cadets and instructors of the Nakhimov Naval Academy who expressed their desire to serve Ukraine were moved from Sevastopol to Odesa. Prior to their departure, cadets wearing Ukrainian uniforms said tearful goodbyes to their former fellow students who chose to switch allegiances and take Russia’s side. Cadets on both sides embraced and wished each other good luck.
Although the group left Sevastopol around 10 am, they did not arrive at their destination in Odesa until after midnight.
It turns out their buses were kept at the Russian border checkpoint near the town of Armyansk for nearly five hours. They faced a nasty border check from Russian military officers, who spent three and a half hours going through the cadets’ and officers’ belongings and checking the information stored on their laptops and tablets.
Says one of the Naval Academy’s officers: “We were being searched by the Cossacks and the Berkut. At first, some of us started filming this with our phones, but they didn’t like it – so they took away everyone’s phones and deleted the videos.”
The future of Ukraine’s fleet includes guys from all over Ukraine, including from Odesa and Crimea. “Of course, the Crimeans mostly stayed behind – although some remained faithful to their country ‘til the end, leaving their parents behind and moving to Odesa. But Sevastopol is no longer our city, the people there support the Russians, and this is the truth,” says Yevheniy, a cadet from Mykolayiv.
By the way, Yevheniy met his secondary school classmate in Odesa. The young men exchanged their caps: the sailor wore a green beret, while his friend Serhiy, a future artillery and missile arms specialist, put on a white-topped cap.
In all, a total of 103 cadets and 167 instructors, including officers and the Academy’s commanders, have transferred to the Odesa Military Academy. The latter put on all sorts of accolades to welcome the Crimean reinforcement: an orchestra, bread and salt, even balloons.
The Navy banner was raised at the Military Academy just prior to the cadets’ arrival.
Following the formal ceremonies, the young sailors, commandos, armorers, and truckers fraternized with each other. After that, the new arrivals went for a late supper before settling into the barracks.
It is anticipated that the Naval cadets will room and board, as well as undergo general military instruction, at the Military Academy. As for the specialized disciplines, they will most likely be learning those at the Naval Faculty of the Odesa National Marine Academy, which is still to be created.
On a separate but related note, it has been reported that all expenses associated with the move were picked up by Donetsk businessmen. They donated UAH 120,000, or about US $11,000, which was used to rent buses and a truck to transport the cadets’ and instructors’ belongings.
As a reminder, the Nakhimov Naval Academy switched to Russian military control on March 20. However, after the Russian flag was raised over the institution, a group of cadets famously sang the national anthem of Ukraine, gave a salute, and left. A video posted by users on the Internet shows one of the cadets taking down the Ukrainian Navy banner with tears in his eyes.
Compiled and translated by Olga Ruda on the basis of the following sources: