Q&A with our CTO Yevhen Fedchenko from the Territorial Defense Forces.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, launching a full-scale and brutal war. We talked to our CTO — Yevhen Fedchenko, who has joined the Kyiv Territorial Defense Battalion on February 24. We got sincere answers to the following questions.
What brigade have you joined? How many people, and people of what professions have joined the Territorial Defense Forces?
"I am in the 128 unit, a separate reconnaissance platoon. The number of people cannot be disclosed, but I can say that many people joined, and they are people of different professions; there are lots of engineers, lots of guys from Donbas. Getting int the Territorial Defense Forces is harder than getting into IT, and to joining the intelligence is almost unrealistic."
Why have you joined the Territorial Defense Forces, and what were your first thoughts?"
"There was no choice. I was never going to join the army, and I did not join, even the military department. And in recent years, If i had an opportunity, I preferred living outside of Ukraine. But when the first missile hit Kyiv, there was no other choice. Protecting the homeland is a duty. I signed up on the first day. You may ask why they hired me without any experience? I do have it. I am an athlete-shooter of a pretty decent level, in a good physical shape, and in 2014 I traveled several times as a firearms training instructor to different units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.First thoughts? I didn't really expect to survive the first 3 days, to be honest. Propaganda is a great thing. The second world army in the world, Kadyrov's battalion, and all these things. I just hoped not to let my brothers down. Now it's clear that this will last for a while. And it's work. It's very difficult, dangerous, but it's work. And I try to do it well. "
What does your typical day look like? What are your tasks?
"We are involved in reconnaissance or reinforcement of the police / SBU in case of the possibility of force. We have a well-equipped and trained unit. As to the tasks, it can be just trips all day long, when you are wearing armor 24/7; or it could be nothing for the day. It it's the latter, then we solve the household issues because we do everything by ourselves. And, of course, combat training and preparation. The training of recruits is separate. We have many good instructors, and we go to other units for training. Thanks to this, I got on TSN and a bunch of foreign TV channels. It is clear that in the event of the assault on Kyiv, the tasks will be different."
What are the similarities between your position as a CTO and your tasks at the Territorial Defense Forces?
"The common thing is that I constantly need to solve problems. And they must be resolved regardless of the means."
What have you understood during these days spent in the forces? What are your insights?
1) The Territorial Defense Forces is an army, at least in my case. It’s not an interest club where weapons are given, and you go home in the evening. No, this is a full-fledged service. The only difference is that some bureaucratic moments have just been removed.
2) The most challenging part is a daily routine, especially for people accustomed to comfort. Cold, days in boots and armor, a shower as a big holiday — it's all difficult. But you get used to it, and it's not so scary. As the commander said, "the best kind of preparation for service is to learn how to wash socks in ice water."
3) I have never met such close human relationships as I do here. All of us got separated from our relatives; we live together, work together, fight together and, if necessary, we fulfill the duty together -you can't help but feel close to each other in these circumstances. I'm talking only about my unit now — primarily adults and mature people, former ATO fighters, and athletes. But I'm sure other units have it the same way.
What skills taken from the Territorial Defense Forces will be applicable later in your work as a CTO?
"It is difficult to say right now. I have definitely changed a lot. All of us have. I do not think that shooting from NLAW will be useful skill in my work as a CTO. Nevertheless, I will surely gain something from it. We'll see after the war ends."