'I would never have thought about giving lectures to American military'

Author : News Agency

Respondent : Mykhailo Zabrodskyi

Source :

Commander of the mobile landing forces of the Ukrainian Army, Lieutenant-General, Hero of Ukraine Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, in an interview tells about the raid of the 95th and 30th brigades in the rear of the enemy in 2014, the importance of the parade on Independence Day, and how to become a paratrooper
21:31, 1 August 2017

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112 Agency

- These days three years ago one of the most massive operations of our army named "Raid" took place in Ukraine. You commanded this operation and made a lot of efforts to ensure that the entire world community recognized this operation as the longest raid in the military history of the world. Do you remember now those events?

- I do not even need to remember, because nothing has been forgotten. And most of the participants of those events remember it, as it was yesterday.

- A lot of people were involved. Getting prepared for our interview, on the Internet I met such names of the operation as "Zabrodsky's Raid" or "Raid of 95 brigade". How did you plan this operation and what is the "Raid" itself? How did you realize who should be involved? And did you understand at that moment, what you will have to face?

- This is in any case not the "Zabrodsky’s Raid". It’s rather certain tactical actions that were carried out by the forces, the means, and the officers of the 95th separate assault brigade and 30th separate mechanized brigade personnel. If we talk about the raid as a form of tactical action, then it is not new, it was used in the world practice almost 300 years ago. Its main essence is the rapid advance through the territory controlled by the enemy, or in the rear of the enemy, and the consequent disabling of its facilities or access to a certain line. Planning was carried out in a short time, then we set tasks, and then acted according to the the circumstances.

- It's no secret that the army in 2014 was not in very good condition. Did you have people whom you could rely on and whom you were sure of?

- As for the personnel of 95th separate assault brigade it was consisted by military men who had previously participated in battles, in particular in the Slovyansk region, so the issue of confidence was not complicated. They were people who had been tested by war, and we clearly understood what to expect. Speaking about the personnel of 30th separate mechanized brigade, we met for the first time and now I am very pleased that we have not made a mistake trusting them.

- Here is how the US military expert Philipp Carber assessed the raid: "Mykhailo Zabrodsky and his 95th brigade in early August became part of the military history, they broke through the separatist defense line, marched to Mariupol, returned along the border, destroyed several Russian artillery battalions already on the Ukrainian side of the border, they took their weapons and equipment. Russian tanks drove right up to Luhansk and then returned to Slovyansk. It’s the longest raid of an armed formation in the military history of the world. " Was it really so?

- I will not argue with an expert. There are different indicators for both length, and depth. World history also has longer raiding actions.

- How this raid helped in the course of the hostilities that later unfolded?

- Even now it is difficult to assess all the impact on the operational situation, which then happened. This is a question, perhaps not for us, but for the leadership of the anti-terrorist operation. After all, they fully understood the whole situation, and we just did our job.

- I understand this as there is a column of military equipment with people and you are performing certain tasks, right?

- No, the column is used when you need to move quickly. As soon as the object is approaching, the subdivision unfolds before the battle.

- What is the success of such operations?

- The main thing is the suddenness and concealment of information. While you are the owner of information, as long as only you know where you are going, the chances of success grow.

- How many people knew about the raid?

- Only a few people.

- Did you explain anything to the personnel?

- Only in very general terms. Everyone understood what was going on. Another thing is that at war it is not necessary for everyone to know what, where and when.

- When you returned to Slavyansk, who met you first? What about your feelings? Did you realize what you did?

- No, there were no such high feelings then. The most important feeling was: was it all really over!? As for people, the team commander usually works with the brigade commander, who constantly moves with the commander.

Related: Ukrainian Army holds first rehearsal of military parade on Independence Day

- At that time, you were probably one of the first who met the Russian army. Did you have an understanding before that that you are at war with Russia?

- We had an understanding that we are at war.

- I know that you are invited to the US to share your experience.

- With a group of officers, we have repeatedly visited a number of American military institutions, where our actions were of great interest. Very professional questions were asked and we felt that people are interested in certain features of our actions.

- Could you imagine five years ago that you would be giving lectures to American military?

- Even in a dream I could not imagine it. If we consider the concept of military experience, then this experience is a specific thing. There is a certain list of issues that need to be analyzed and something should be changed immediately. If we talk about events of a more serious scale, then this takes time: for the work of analysts, for analysis. The lion's share of this time is spent on collecting information. And only after that it will be possible to draw conclusions. An example of this is the Second World War, including events on the territory of our state. Many countries fought, and much time had passed, but serious analysis about those events began to appear only in the early 50's.

- As a commander of high-flying landing troops, do you have days-off? And do you practice on the weekend?

- Sure, I have my days-off. Usually at my weekend I lie on the couch and watch TV.

- At what stage of the special operation the enemy understood that this was a raid and how could the information leakage be avoided?

- This was a limited circle of people who knew about the task in full. That is, if a serviceman, given some personal qualities, could have reported something on the mobile phone, he did not have complete information. In addition, the personnel knew what price it was possible to pay for the leakage of any information. A certain educational work and instructions were made regarding the limitation and use of mobile communication. In addition, there was a purely technical problem: the deeper we entered the territory controlled by the enemy, the worse mobile communications worked.

- You walked through the settlements, through the cities. Did you have any contacts with locals?

- Yes, we had some contacts with the population, their attitude was different. Moreover, there were even such settlements that firmly believed that this was the army of the DNR and welcomed us accordingly. Nobody convinced them otherwise.

- Paratroopers always say that they tried to build normal relations with local people. At least help them, and tried to somehow show that the Ukrainian army - is primarily their defenders. Did you adhere to such principles?

- At that time, no. Based on my own observations, any relationship can arise only if the unit or part of it stays in the village for a long time. Therefore, any contact with locals was occasional and had a different content: someone frankly ignored us, someone hated, someone congratulated.

- Over the past month, there have been many training raids on the territory of Ukraine. In this learning process, do you now take into account the experience you got earlier?

- It is not only taken into account, but lies at the basis. The raid as a form of fighting is promising and requires further development and refinement.

- Do you have international instructors to train existing military personnel?

In the 199th Airborne Training Center, on a permanent basis, there is a training group of instructors from several countries: Great Britain, Canada, USA.

- Is their training system different from ours?

- The system is different. There are their own achievements, there are national peculiarities and traditions of military training. As for the content - it's all close to us, it's understandable. Even according to the specialists who perform their tasks in the training center, when they teach us, they also learn the same.

- Do you feel yourself a great person?

- Absolutely not. This is not an attempt to portray a supermodest person or something else. I just clearly understand that even with competent command, great organizational efforts, any task is carried out by the hands of soldiers and officers. Without the dedication of the performers themselves, nothing can ever be achieved. There’s no Zabrodsky, who creates a miracle. It is created by personnel: soldiers, officers of amphibious forces.

- What do airborne forces today? What’s the situation with your staff? New types of troops are emerging, for example, 36th brigade recently celebrated its anniversary. Do you feel competition?

- This is not competition, but rather the spirit of competition, complementary to each other. I mean different kind of troops. They did not appear, they were always there. Another thing is that certain events in the east of the state gave a new impetus to their development and a completely new content. And this is very good, when both in the state and in the Armed Forces in particular there is a whole range of forces and means that can perform various tasks.

Considering the fact that a normal unit must have 2 states: either it performs the task or is preparing for it, then for today we are preparing for the fulfillment of the tasks. I mean the activities of combat training. Including large-scale, including using a large number of weapons and military equipment, moving long distances and attracting a large number of personnel. We use this pause before the next rotation in a certain zone in order to increase our skills and raise the level of preparation.

- Soon we will have a parade. If you remember 2014, then you commanded the parade as soon as you returned from the raid. I will never forget your phrase when in the interview you said that our society finally understood that we need the army not only to go to the parade. What feelings does the parade cause for you? In your opinion, is it necessary?

- I am convinced that at least once a year, civilians should be able to see their Armed Forces not only on TV screens, but also live.

- When people applaud during the parade, is this a motivation for the army?

This is an extraordinary sense of national unity between the army and people.

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