Under Cover of the Cedar. Game of Shadows of the Military Intelligence Group
Written by “Hrom” (thunder), an officer of the special reserve group “Kedr” (cedar) of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine.
Photos by “Hrisha” (a call-sign), a UAV operator of the “Kedr” group.
Since the first day of the full-scale war by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of compatriots by the call of their hearts stood up to defend the Homeland in different units of the defence forces. I, previously a civilian and quite public person was lucky to get into the formation – mostly closed, a little bit mystical, rigid, but at the same time attractive – in the special reserve group of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. Here is a half of people like me who came from civilian life: the men without any combat experience or with minimal military skills, or quite physically trained but with the utmost feeling of patriotism and hate towards our eternal enemy – imperial and blood-thirsty Russia.
Calm and balanced “Som” (catfish) is a winner of the national tournaments in practical shooting, thin young man, a professional shooting instructor. With his angelic patience, he can teach a rabbit how to shoot and hit almost into an eye of a squirrel. Fiery “Fanat” (fan) is a multi-champion of Ukraine and Europe in many types of wrestling.
Respectful and humorous “Lawyer” is a successful notary in civil life. Tacit “Ahat” (agate) who artfully drives the car as a sports racer. Blood cousins “Shaun” and a machine gunner “Shturm” (storm) are young and ardent. One more machine gunner “Hook” who can possibly knockout a calf by just one punch.
A group of old veterans from the “Aidar” Battalion. One of them “UkrOp” (an abbreviation for Ukrainian resistance) is a quite known lawyer who fought in the Afghanistan war. The other “Hizo” is an ethnic Georgian and a citizen of Ukraine who dreams after the victory to go to fight back his native Abkhazia.
Two experienced senior officers – Lieutenant Colonels “Kos” and “Kot” (cat) – who supervised the security of three Ukrainian Presidents in the Department of State Guard before.
Here is also a weirdo – a thin sniper, Captain with the call-sign “Tarakan” (cockroach). He is a veteran of the anti-terrorist operation in 2014 and alone survived the blast inside the armored vehicle BTR which ran over the anti-tank mine. He was wounded, received treatment and rehabilitation, and joined the army again.
For this, we forgive him many of his weird actions, so non-typical for snipers.
Covered entirely in the chaotic military tattoos “MorPikh” (a Marine) – a veteran of the anti-terrorist operation who served in the Marines.
Here is also a “Povar” (cook) who artfully runs the kitchen and to whom we are thankful for being sated.
Also, here is a completely non-military person – a talented photographer “Hrisha” who became our UAV operator and masterfully operates it.
The ethnic gemstone of the group is a citizen of Turkey with the call-sign “Kurd”. For a long time, he has married and has a permanent residency in Ukraine and a wealthy family in Turkey. Despite that, he exchanged this relatively trouble-free life abroad for the daily risk of the contract military service in the Foreign Legion, and was deployed to us.
The heart, brain, and punching fist of the group is “Kedr” (cedar). He is a commander, professional Colonel from the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, and an experienced and educated serviceman awarded with the officer-level Orders of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi of all three ranks and an Order of Bravery of the 3rd degree. This is more than cool by the military standards. Like a cedar tree, he is tall, tough, stiff, unbending, sharp, and sometimes thorny because he constantly berates us.
By his invitation and guidance, we all, so different gathered in the shooting range in the capital (where “Som” worked as an instructor), quickly armed ourselves, and moved to Bucha and Hostomel on the next night. Then we served as the antitank reserve unit in case the adversary would break into Kyiv. After that, we went outside the capital, conducted reconnaissance missions, planted the mine ambushes on the forest roads, collected information about the enemy, and corrected mortar fire near the occupied in that time settlements of Kopylov, Makariv, and Motyzhyn in Kyiv region. Currently, we do the same in Kharkiv region. We have enough infantry and anti-tank weapons and ammo both foreign – Javelin, NLAW, Carl Gustaf, heavy machine gun Browning M2, sniper rifle Barret, CZ rifles. And post-Soviet grenade launchers, hand grenades, anti-tank, and anti-personnel mines.
During these almost five months, we turned into a united small military organism, inhaled the gun powder quite enough, and often gave the enemy to feel the pain.
The fucking war teaches fast. And bitterly. We experienced a lot: the perplexity of the first days and the next gradual confidence of the first victories.
And the death of comrades in battle whom we later buried and whose frozen bodies we pulled out under the enemy’s nose and the fire two days after they died. We also had a small soldier’s triumph – the awarding of two warriors with firearms. Also, two of us were wounded at the beginning of July but not severely. And here is a daily race for the result: intelligence data, targets, and information about the enemy.
On July 12th, as a result of the carefully thought and planned operation, our “Kedr” group – formed primarily out of civilians – inflicted tangible losses on the adversary at the village of Dementiivka in Derhachiv district of Kharkiv region. In difficult environment of constant radio interference, we used the infra-red surveillance quadcopter to find out the adversary’s forward positions. Our UAV operator “Hrisha” revealed the large quantity of troops without armor on the northeastern side of the village. By the quadcopter, we dropped eight hand grenades F-1 on the live targets hiding inside the previously destroyed houses. He also verified the hits: several still human silhouettes were left on the hit spots. As the Russian POW later confirmed, during that grenade attack their unit lost 36 servicemen killed and wounded.
On the same July 12th night, four of us – “Kot”, “Morpikh”, “Som”, and “Hizo” – with the reconnaissance group of the Territorial Defence unit went to verify the results of the grenade droppings. The forward TerDef group got ambushed and immediately suffered losses, but two of our servicemen, who followed them, engaged the overwhelming enemy troops in the close fight with rifles, grenade launchers Fort-600, and hand grenades. They fought the group of 12-13 with a machine gunner and a sniper located in the advantageous forest positions. The intensive rifle fight lasted about an hour. As a result, the enemy suffered losses – two were killed and three were wounded. Our four returned without losses.
In the second half of July 12, as a result of the nicely planned operation by “Kedr” and with the extra air surveillance and the artillery cover by the neighboring Territorial Defense and National Guard units, we entered the damned forest. The enemy diversion group was eliminated and we collected a lot of trophies – a modern Kalashnikov rifle Ak-12 (AK-200), a machine gun, grenade launchers, military IDs, radios of the killed, etc.
But the major achievement was the capture of the enemy group commander, Lt. Stanislav Trutnev. He was from the very special Russian detachment – the 140th SpecOp underwater diversion unit of the North Fleet with the base in Vidiaevo village near the northern Russian city of Murmansk. Interestingly, Lt. Trutnev was born in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in 1989.
He was provided with first aid, evacuated (under the Russian mortar fire), received surgery, and was placed under arrest in one of the hospitals. He’s facing many more interrogations, and we hope that with his capture, our POWs received a better chance to get home from captivity as a result of the prisoner swap.
But anyways, despite the results, we aren’t a SpecOps unit, a storming unit, and even not investigators. We are reconnaissance people, rather searchers who learn to watch, hear, and extract the battlefield information. But, when we get a chance, we eliminate the enemy.
We need to be able to do it more and with greater effectiveness, to understand more by a half-word, to know more even from the air, and to feel more by the skin on the distance.
Moreover, we have to be able to do and be patient more. We are those who gain power from our own soil. Our time is in the night – pleasant but so short in the summer, and long, ruthless in the winter. We study how to become the unspotted shadows. That’s why the photos by “Hrisha” accompanying this article are black and white, colorless as this damned war which leaves no half-tones to none of us and millions of our compatriots. There is only either life or death. There’s either truth or lie. There’s either a comrade or an enemy.