“We all have a unique chance to get rid of Russian-Soviet colonial influence once and for all and build an open, European democracy, with developed social institutions, strong market economy and equal non-discriminatory opportunities for all people living in its territories. We also have the chance to show the real Ukraine and Ukrainians to the world, honest, kind, hard-working, free and with unbroken spirit - the complete opposite of how Russian propaganda tries to portray us,” explains “Bat,” a Ukrainian military officer.
Prior to the war, Bat, with his law and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees, worked as an advocacy expert on one of the USAID projects focused on developing and reforming the credit union system in Ukraine. He brought with him more than two decades of public service and reform implementation experience, particularly in the financial sector.
Bat is also a plastun (member of the Ukrainian National Scout Organization), so his credo – loyalty to God and Ukraine – became key in his service to his country. Bat also joined the project as a former military officer with combat experience from 2014 – 2015, when Russia began its aggression, occupying the Crimea and parts of the Donbas region.
On the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Bat volunteered to defend his country on the frontlines. He joined the Ukrainian army and on the following day he arrived at the location of his mechanized brigade.
During the first two months of the Russian invasion, Bat was a Commanding Officer of the rifle company, a part of his brigade's infantry battalion. This brigade played a key role in defending the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv from occupying forces in March 2022.
Bat is now second-in-command of an engineering battalion. This combat support unit is currently working on demining Ukrainian territories, as well as fortifying the area to prepare the country for further defense against Russia.
Given the level of mine contamination that remains after some Ukrainian territories were liberated from the aggressor, the unit is provided with work for many years to come.
Since the time Bat joined Army, he has seen a lot of pain and loss, but remains optimistic and confident about Ukraine’s victory.
“Unfortunately, the history of Ukraine includes sad pages when the liberation struggle for independence ended in defeat and another round of Russian or Soviet occupation. But now we have the unprecedented support of the world. In addition, it's not just the territory for which Ukrainians are now fighting. We are fighting for our existence – both physical existence and the existence of values that every Ukrainian defends – democracy, freedom, human dignity, rule of law, justice, equality of rights and opportunities, and the competition of ideas.”
After Ukraine’s victory, Bat will be happy to return to advocating for reforms, but now he says that his job is to protect Ukraine and defend the country.