Editor’s NoteHistorian and writer Nazar Rozlutsky like many other Ukrainians of completely peaceful professions has found himself on the battlefield under harsh Russian artillery shelling. He explains why he cannot lay down his arms and conveys his message to “those who have great opportunities” to help Ukraine defend itself. This is his letter from the front.
I am not a military man. I never wanted to be in the military. I am a researcher, have a PhD in history and work at a museum. I am also sort of a writer. I am supposed to be researching history, writing scientific and popular science works. And fiction too; because I like it and I am good at it.
But lately, I’ve been in the military. Because there is a war in my country.
Every day we engage in artillery duels, in which one successful strike by an enemy will turn us into mince. We sleep in the cargo beds on top of the boxes in unbelievable narrowness and take a warm shower once a month. When it’s raining, we’re wet. When we’re in a swamp, we’re as dirty as hell (and, again, we take a shower once a month, and there is no guarantee that we will have such an opportunity the next month). And when it was cold, my brothers in arms froze off their fingers.
We eat only when we have a minute to spare, not when it’s time to eat or when we have an appetite. We sleep so irregularly that I don’t know if I will ever be able to return to my standard schedule from 11pm to 7am. At the same time, we are a priority target for the enemy. And they can try to wipe us out in different ways, at any moment.
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Thousands of historians, writers, accountants, bankers, IT specialists, teachers, designers, and representatives of other completely peaceful professions in Ukraine have found themselves in these conditions, if not in more drastic ones. They are being killed with 152 mm artillery and Tochka-U missile launchers. Bullets, VOGs, clusters, and phosphorus ammunition flies at them. Some of them have already died. And some will never return to their profession because they have burned out.
But they all continue to fight. Because Ukraine is behind them. Because if they lay down their arms, their parents will be killed, their wives and daughters will be raped, and their homes will be destroyed or confiscated.
And when politicians from France, Italy, Germany, and other countries offer us to lay down our arms, agree to lose territories, provide Russia with some security guarantees (what an absurdity!!! Russia does not need any security guarantees; it’s Russia’s neighbors who need guarantees against the threat from them)…
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Then I feel anger and deep disgust. I loathe these worthless people who, because of their prejudices or because of Putin’s dirty money, are ready to condemn my country to occupation, to a slow and painful death.
I feel disgusted and angry at those who have great opportunities to help overcome the crisis but instead seek, consciously or unconsciously, to deepen it. Because even the complete capitulation of Ukraine will not solve the problem of global security. On the contrary, it will push Russia into new conquests.
We do not need offers to surrender. If you are not ready to fight with us against a rabid enemy, then help us with weapons, money, sanctions. We need a lot to defeat Russia and thus drastically reduce the global crisis. But we have the main thing: motivation.
We have historians who are ready to sleep on top of boxes, five people in two sleeping places, and knead the mud for weeks without being able to shower. We have accountants who are ready to eat only porridge with stew for months. We have young students who spend their best years risking their lives. And they will not go anywhere unless they are all killed.
With your consent.
Ukraine will fight to victory as long as she can resist. And what will you do?
Nazar Rozlutsky, PhD, author of six books, currently a junior sergeant in the Armes Forces of Ukraine
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