To Defenders of Freedom

Oleksandr, a history teacher, took up arms and defends Ukraine in Bakhmut

Until March 2022, Oleksandr taught history and worked as a deputy director of a local school. Now he is a mortar man of the Bakhmut territorial defense battalion of the AFU, and defends the city from Russian occupiers. 

Russia’s full-scale invasion caught Oleksandr by surprise. “On the 24th of February, we woke up at night and heard powerful explosions. The next day, without hesitation, I went to the territorial defense as a volunteer. I took a weapon in my hands, so that my students and my son wouldn’t have to,” says the man in the interview to

The Bakhmut battalion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began to perform combat missions in March. Oleksandr was trained and became a mortar man. 

“I will remember the first fight for the rest of my life. I was afraid more than ever. Afterward, when we looked at the battlefield from the side, we asked ourselves how we survived this fierce battle,” Oleksandr recalls.

According to the former teacher, values change during the war. People come to understand that material goods are worthless at war and that human life is the most valuable thing.

The Ukrainian defender admits that his life has hung by a thread many times: “We fight with Russian forces on the outskirts of our city and the city of Soledar. To be honest, I don’t understand how I’m still alive. There were a million moments when death stood nearby. But we still hold on and fight back,” emphasizes Oleksandr.

The man believes that Ukrainians fight for their freedom and, therefore, they will never give up.

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