Pawel Kuzin, a senior lieutenant of the Ukrainian army, was killed in the fighting near Bakhmut in February. After the Russian shelling, he was the only able-bodied soldier from his unit. With the help of a machine gun, he repulsed the advance of Russian infantry to give time for the evacuation of wounded comrades, writes the BBC. The website of the British broadcaster also drew attention to the manner of conducting attacks by the Russians, reminiscent of the times of World War I. Often, untrained and inexperienced soldiers are sent in waves to Ukrainian positions. Such a strategy, the BBC believes, brings some benefits to Russia, but at a very high cost.
Bakhmut in the Donetsk region remains the main target of Russian operations in the east Ukraine. Russia believes that the capture of the city will lay the foundations for taking control of the entire Donetsk region. Moscow’s forces occupy just over half of this area. Ukrainian military officials report “unprecedented bloody” clashes, including repelling up to 50 Russian attacks each day.
Russia has concentrated considerable forces around the city, and its brutal strategy of sending attacking troops in waves is helping to advance slowly, but at a very high cost.
Russian shelling near Bakhmut
The BBC returned in Saturday’s publication to the events of February 17 this year. On that day, Senior Lieutenant Pavel Kuzin was in command of a unit that, shortly after being dispatched to the positions, came under fire from a Russian tank. As reported by the portal of the British broadcaster, the shells exploded a few meters from the trench occupied by the Ukrainian defenders.
Two soldiers were wounded and Kuzin ordered them to hide in the dugout. Together with them, a medic came down to the shelter to treat wounds and prepare the victims for evacuation. Then the Russian shell hit the wooden structure directly. “Błysło” – reported one of the surviving soldiers nicknamed “Gypsy”. “It threw me against the logs with such force that it almost crushed me. I couldn’t understand if I was alive or dead. Someone was screaming. It sounded like a voice coming from a hundred meters away” – recalled the military man. It was Kuzin’s voice, trying to find out what had happened to his comrades.
Kuzin helped the wounded “Gypsy” by pulling his limp body out of the dugout destroyed by the explosion. When the shelling stopped, the commander began searching for the remaining soldiers. He saw the body of one, strewn with earth and broken wood. One soldier died and another was injured.
After some time, the shelling began again, and at the same time Russian infantrymen started the attack. Kuzin radioed for backup to evacuate the wounded and took up position by the Browning machine gun.
Russian attacks in waves
Kuzin’s 206th Battalion had previously fought in the south of Kherson Oblast and north-east Kharkiv, but the BBC reported that the Battle of Bakhmut was unlike anything they had faced before.
“The intensity of the fighting to break our positions was shocking,” said platoon commander Mykola Hlabets, adding that the Russians sometimes came within 20 meters of the Ukrainian positions. “They just walked towards us without any cover. We destroyed one group after another, but they kept coming,” he added, calling them “suicide squads.”
The website of the British broadcaster noted that recently, appeals to the president of the newly mobilized Russian soldiers have been published on Russian social media Vladimir Putin to stop what they call “illegal orders” that send them “to slaughter”. The BBC also quotes military reports from the Russian 5th Brigade about barrage troops that are to open fire on their own soldiers withdrawing from the battlefield.
Reminiscent of the World War I period, waves of attacks by often untrained and inexperienced military personnel bring some benefits to Russia, although at a very high cost, the British portal assessed. The Ukrainians expose their positions when they open fire on them, which consequently allows the Russian artillery to locate the target. In addition, Ukrainian defenders in forward positions are quickly running out of ammunition.
Covering the story of Senior Lieutenant Kuzin, the BBC reported that when he grabbed a machine gun to try to stop the advance of Russian infantry, he realized that he was exposing his position. However, as long as he kept the fire on, his wounded comrades had a chance to be saved.
He died covering the evacuation of comrades
“Gypsy” was bleeding in the trench where Kuzin had laid him, the portal reported. A shrapnel crushed his pelvis, another hit his thigh, and a third hit his lower abdomen, “turning his internal organs the other way around.” “I couldn’t see much, everything was white,” the soldier recalled. “I was lying on the snowy ground for two hours, but I didn’t feel the cold,” he added. Beside him lay the second of the wounded defenders.
Rescuers, under constant fire, hastily packed them into an armored car. They didn’t even close the hatch in time – recalled “Gypsy”. By this time, Kuzin’s machine gun was already silent. The senior lieutenant was killed by a piece of shrapnel that pierced his helmet.
The battalion paid its respects to the fallen
The commanders of the 206th Battalion decided to bring Kuzin’s body. The next evening, three groups of two soldiers each set out to find the corpse of the heroic senior lieutenant. “The plan looked good on paper, but things quickly went wrong,” explained Junior Sergeant Wasyl Palamarczuk. The military got lost, and in the darkness they almost ran into the Russians. As they approached the trench, they came under fire.
Eventually, the body of the fallen man managed to get out of the trench a few hours before the Russians took over the area. The whole operation, stretching over a distance of just one kilometer, took six hours.
After midnight, the entire battalion gathered at the evacuation point, where Kuzin was paid tribute. “It was a huge loss for our unit. He saved two people, but he died himself,” said Palamarczuk, quoted by the BBC.
Senior Lieutenant Pawel Kuzin left behind his wife and daughter.
Main photo source: Mines of Defense of Ukraine/Facebook