General Kulchytskyi Battalion Marks Fifth Anniversary
Battalion named after General Serhiy Kulchytskyi, who died in a helicopter, which was shot down by Russian-led forces on the May 29th, 2014, near Slovyansk
Many Euromaidan protesters never would have thought that standing for Ukraine’s independence in Kyiv would lead to them eventually standing at the frontline of the war in Donbas.
After standing side-by-side at the barricades against now disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych, they would have to fight again – this time within the first volunteer army brigades. Before deploying in 2014, the volunteers participated in basic training.
“It was the most terrible period. The most important thing is our unawareness in what we should do, and how we should do it,” serviceman Yevhen Ivanenko said.
However, the fighters say they were psychologically ready to meet a well-trained enemy. General Serhiy Kulchytsky led the volunteer battalion. The soldiers who served in his unit remember the moment they met him for the first time.
“He said: ‘Let’s undergo training, as fast as possible. When I feel that you are ready, I promise you: I will go along and fight with you,'” serviceman Volodymyr Pastushok said.
Pastushok – whose nickname is “The Song,” as he used to play his guitar both on Kyiv’s Independence Square and on the front line in Donbas – along with his battalion, fought a number of tough battles in eastern Ukraine.
Now, he shares his knowledge with young people.
“I have no right to leave the service now. There are a lot of young guys and they keep coming. They have to be trained not only physically, but also psychologically, morally, and what is most important – spiritually,” Pastushok said.
On the Day of the Volunteer, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko handed over awards to soldiers within the Kulchytsky Battalion. In 2014, the volunteers established the core of the modern Ukrainian army. They became the first to defend the country against Russia, Poroshenko said.
“We will never forget the feat of the volunteers. Because there is no limit to the gratitude of the entire Ukrainian nation to those who were among the first to go into battle and give Ukraine the most valuable thing it needed at that moment – time. The first ones are always the bravest,” Poroshenko said.
General Serhiy Kulchitsky, who headed the volunteer battalion, didn’t break his promise and went to the front line along with his soldiers. On May 29, 2014, the Russian-led forces shot down a helicopter near Slovyansk, killing 12 Ukrainian soldiers. Kulchitsky was among them. Now his battalion continues to defend Ukraine.