“War in Ukraine is like WWI but with drones” says foreign fighter

Adriana Lima
By Adriana Lima 18 Min Read
origin 1The “Viking” throughout one among his missions on the entrance in Ukraine. ©The “Viking”

There are only a few folks with such a outstanding biography as Bjørn. Born on the distant Faroe Islands, an archipelago that sits between Norway, the UK and Iceland, Bjørn began life as a fisherman in different chilly nations, together with Greenland, after which labored in building in his native Faroe islands. But that was his life earlier than the Ukraine warfare. Now he sits in a bunker someplace close to the frontline in the east of Ukraine, one of many only a few fighters to have made it previous the extraordinary foreign legion coaching that he says many even with earlier army coaching don’t move. But how precisely did he get right here?

Foreign fighter accidentally

Bjorn was backpacking round Europe when he acquired a cellphone name from his cousin, who had joined the Ukrainian Foreign Legion on the very starting of what Russia was nonetheless calling a “special military operation.”

“We were talking for over an hour. He told me about all the atrocities the Russians are doing against civilians, against P.O.W.s, from the Wagner group, and those very, very graphic videos,” Bjørn advised RockedBuzz by way of Euronews, including that he felt like he wasn’t doing something helpful again residence, having give up his job 12 days earlier than, with a unfastened plan to return to fishing.

The Russians “are attacking civilian buildings, civilian infrastructure, first aid groups. They always trying to break the morale of the Ukrainians,” he was advised. That struck a chord with Bjørn, who immediately determined to hitch his cousin, who is additionally his godson.

Despite the protests from his cousin, who tried to speak him out of it, the previous fisherman travelled to Ukraine, the place he was to bear very intense coaching that he estimates 40% of individuals don’t move.

“It’s a different war. This is not like Iraq or Afghanistan or any other war. It’s like World War One all over again, except with drones. You are running through trenches. You are hiking in bunkers. Even former soldiers need to retrain,” he says shaking his head.

origin 1In the Foreign Legion everybody is being given a nickname.The “Viking”

Despite being a civilian, Bjørn was set down a path that will see him coaching as a machine gunner.

The preliminary bodily coaching was three to 4 weeks coaching, and Bjørn says he misplaced 20 kilos in 5 weeks. 26 trainees left midway by way of the coaching.

“A lot of the civilians turned out better than a lot of the former soldiers.”

The entire coaching is two months and the fighters prepare in full gear, sporting ballistic vests that may weigh as much as 20kg in 26 diploma warmth. For somebody that was born in such a chilly local weather, this was no straightforward feat.

“Many guys came. They joined the Legion and after one week, they were like, you know, I have eight years of experience in the army, I’m a ranger, major, whatever,” after which abandon their coaching, typically turning up “injured or dead,” two weeks later. Bjørn reckons that of the recruits find yourself on the entrance, 20 % go away after 2-5 missions as a result of they realise that “war is hell.”

Some of the recruits on the Ukrainian aspect go away after 4 months, after the fact of being shelled consistently and never with the ability to sleep will get to them.

“It was something like ten days before I was deployed, and my first three missions were extremely hard.”

An unofficial ritual, the recruits are all given nicknames by the opposite troopers once they be part of. Bjørn’s is “Viking,” a nod to his Nordic heritage and his tall and robust construct. His greatest buddy, who he says is as shut because the brother he by no means had, is referred to as Cyprus, because of his residence nation. The pair are actually inseparable.

On Bjørn’s first mission, the recruits solely acquired a few hundred metres earlier than a drone dropped a grenade on the home they had been in and so they wanted to stroll three kilometres to the entrance, the place they continued to be shelled. Without Ukrainian air help to defend the skies with fighter jets, it actually does hark again to the wars of the twentieth century.

“I really just wanted to go home,” Bjørn says about his first missions. But he persevered and begun to get used to the crashes and bangs of artillery, mortars, RPGs and all different sorts of explosions. He defined that when you’ll be able to distinguish between these sounds, you change into extra calm, as a result of you understand how to react.

origin 1The “Viking” after a mission on the entrance in Ukraine.The “Viking”

But a number of missions later, Bjørn was injured.

“All hell broke loose, and these two guys were caught in the line of fire.”

Bjørn was on a recce mission, to see what Russian troopers had been as much as in their bunkers. He says as a result of terrain circumstances, it wasn’t a case of crawling metres between trenches, but swimming. But all of a sudden he heard a bullet.

Ten minutes later, a really intensive firefight broke out. “It was the most RPGs I’ve seen since I joined the war.” Bjørn mentioned.

“At one level I see my entrance bunker has gotten in bother.” Bjørn was defending his teammates from the massive variety of RPGs, snipers and machine weapons with suppressive hearth, when he heard the sound of an RPG piercing his armour. He describes the speedy staccato faucet of those grenades.

“They make two explosions like, ‘thun-thun.’ The first one is to break through the armour and the second one is to kill whatever is inside. And I heard the first explosion, ‘boom,’ and I thought, ‘oh damn, that’s close.’ And then the second one hit me.”

Bjørn was thrown with such power that when he hit the wall, his physique left an imprint in the sandbags.

He blacked out for 10 seconds. When he got here to, a cloud of mud and smoke so thick cloaked his legs. He grappled for his gun, which he managed to seize on the ground. He instantly knew one thing was fallacious.

origin 1The “Viking” was injured.the “Viking”

“I had put one among my palms all the best way as much as my face to see that really I used to be injured and bleeding.” He was hit by items of shrapnel between 1mm and 1.5mm in his torso, legs and arms. His gun additionally didn’t survive and was showered with shrapnel.

“I couldn’t see anything.” Despite this, he nonetheless managed to run 15 metres to flee the smoke, the place he tried to use a tourniquet. Both palms had been so badly injured, that he was unable to twist the fabric across the wound to stem the bleeding.

No one is going to Valhalla, not this time

Luckily, two of his fellow comrades, together with Cyprus, got here to his help, and managed to use the tourniquet efficiently.

However, when Bjørn seemed down, he seen plenty of blood concentrating round his groin. He feared the worst. “Cyprus, examine it,” Bjørn says he screamed at Cyprus.

“No, no, Viking, I’ve got to stop the bleeding,” his comrade replied, attending to his different wounds. Bjørn was additionally bleeding from his aspect. The pair start shouting at one another, Bjørn says, preventing about what was extra pressing to take care of. After a lot arguing, Cyprus and one other soldier who heard all of the commotion stripped Bjørn down and examined the world. Time freezes till Cyprus comes again up with each thumbs and tells him the excellent news.

The hearth combat broke out once more, and Cyprus and his comrades left Bjørn and his damaged gun in the tunnel to go and combat. Bjørn says he started to shout about Valhalla.

But adrenaline is one hell of a drug. Bjørn does not keep in mind any ache from the incident. It took him two days to really feel the ache. He has since recovered 80% of the sensation in his arm following a nerve transplant to one among his fingers, and a number of other months in a hospital. He will discover out in three to 5 months if he’ll get again the total operate and feeling.

The actuality on the frontline

Bjørn says that plenty of the Russian troopers are usually not simply actually younger, but that they don’t have any armour or helmets. Many of them are inexperienced and when despatched to the entrance, find yourself getting misplaced earlier than stumbling into the Ukrainian troopers.

“They usually use these guys, send them forward, dig trenches, stuff like that. These guys usually get shot and when they’re finally finished, then the professionals will go for it.”

It’s very easy to inform the distinction between paratroopers or conscripts, he says, as a result of “conscripts are very cowardly. They start shooting from 80 to 100 meters away,” blindly firing in worry.

But paratroopers {and professional} troopers with extra expertise are very aggressive.

Bjørn additionally talks about occupied territories. He revealed that in many locations, together with Bakhmut, Russian troopers had been holding residents as hostages to make use of as human shields “because they knew the Ukrainians wouldn’t shoot.”

His personal battalion has discovered proof of mass graves with “all signs of execution,” which he believes to have been perpetrated by the Wagner group. He says has seen movies himself (that would not be independently verified by RockedBuzz by way of Euronews) of ladies being gangraped and girls and youngsters being focused by a tank. But he tends to keep away from these graphic movies the place he can.

“I’m preventing for a very good trigger”

Bjorn says his motivation for returning to the entrance is his deep respect for the Ukrainian folks to proceed to persevere even in the face of such atrocities.

origin 1The “Viking” earlier than occurring a mission.The “Viking”

Bjørn additionally says that Russian troopers “destroy everything,” together with villages close to the border with as few as 20 residents, as a result of they’re decided to eradicate all issues Ukraine.

“If they lose, they will never be able to call themself Ukrainian and this is something Russia wants,” he says.

Bjørn provides he feels he is preventing for a simply trigger, “which is very rare nowadays.” He says that the place he is, Ukrainians don’t think about themselves part of Russia, which Russia typically makes use of to justify the warfare, until 250 years of genocide and occupation are thought of to be a historic declare.

“It’s so weird that people still believe that Russia is fighting against Nazis. Zelenskyy is Jewish, the PM is Jewish. The defence minister is Muslim. It’s 20 ethnic groups here and 30 different languages. That’s everything except Nazism.”

Bjørn sympathises with Ukrainians and attracts similarities between Ukraine and his native Faroe Islands, which solely gained independence from Denmark in 1948.

War teaches you to understand the small issues in life

Bjørn says by way of the warfare, he has discovered to understand the small issues in life.

“I hated going to a children’s theatrical play before, but I will properly enjoy them in the future. I get easily moved inside now… Before the war, I was a hardcore workaholic, but now I’m a soldier with an appreciation for the small details in life,” he laughs. When the warfare is over, he plans to observe an Icelandic volcano erupt with his 14-year-old son.

origin 1The “Viking” sporting his hand knitted jumper from the Faroe Islands on the entrance in Ukraine.the “Viking”

He vows that his battalion is decided the Russians won’t break by way of their defence strains to town they’re defending. He is devoted to defending the civilians there.

But it’s not straightforward. He believes two wars are concurrently being fought: the precise warfare and a media warfare. Bjorn says the Russian propaganda about Russia profitable is very removed from actuality.

“Since Putin began this warfare with Ukraine to cease NATO, Russia has change into surrounded by NATO.” He believes President Putin is simply making an attempt to save lots of face. He doesn’t assume the warfare will finish anytime quickly.

Putin must be stopped

“If you don’t stop Russia here, at this front, this is right next to a European border,” he warns, pointing to Russia’s latest historical past together with Crimea, Georgia and Chechnya.

His greatest worry is a nuclear warfare, but urges after the warfare, “everyone has to sit down and talk about these nukes and why a few countries have so many things that are going to destroy half of the world. I mean I’m, I’m 40 years old and I’ve nearly had three nuclear wars in my lifetime.”

“I wish after this war, we have 100 years of peace consolidating our universities, science, medicine… just for once. I think everybody’s just tired of war,” he laments.

But for now, Bjørn is trying ahead to returning residence after the warfare. He says the Faroe Islands are paradise.

origin 1The “Viking” again residence in the Faore Islands.The “Viking”

What helps us to remain human right here on the entrance

Bjørn says, “if it wasn’t for your support, we would not be this strong for this long.” He particularly thanks personal donors who helped send armoured vehicles, personal cars that they use for transport, that are very, very significant as a result of the roads in Ukraine are very, very proper now, muddy and dangerous.”

He provides: “I suppose, what retains us human on the entrance and never simply cannon fodder, is figuring out that behind us are civilian folks caring about us being alright, effectively fed, heat in winter, that now we have espresso, meals, sweets… The feeling that we’re appreciated and never alone.

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