“The enemy knows that if we work, there will be a breakthrough or an assault.” The story of brothers from the KRAKEN special forces unit

29 Min Read

Chern and Liutii are brothers from Bukovyna. Before the war, we worked in the police and thought that we wouldn’t have to wear a military uniform. However, February 2022 changed their plans for life.

В n an interview with online.ua the fighters of the KRAKEN special forces unit told about their entry into military service, combat missions, motivation and losses.

Service in the KRAKEN special forces unit

Was it obvious to you that the war would become full-scale in 2022?

Chern: I will always remember the story of how two days before the full-scale war, on February 22, I was sitting with my best friend (who, by the way, is now serving in Artan) and we were talking about it. I said that there would be no war, that it was a banal “muscle play,” a way to force us to do something. On February 24, I realized that I was wrong.

In your opinion, how important are the sanctions imposed on Russia?

Chern: This is largely not in favor of the aggressor country. Everything works, but the enemy finds ways to circumvent the sanctions: they buy defense components, and there are countries that follow the “both yours and ours” policy.

We have the same potential. As far as I know, we have UAV manufacturers. At the beginning of the war, there were about 30 manufacturers. Now there are more than 200. However, for some reason, it is not funded and people have to look for sponsors on their own.

In this case, what does Ukraine have in store for the future? Is this the Israeli scenario?

Chern: It will be repaired, it will acquire human resources… and the enemy will continue to test us. Now we have come to realize that a professionally combat-ready army is what we should have had and we should not have destroyed it since independence. Having had such a resource then, is it now necessary to ask for help from the whole world? I don’t think it’s logical. We are now a buffer zone.

But despite all this, we must endure. What can I say? We have already endured. You should not give up in the future.

We need to knock the Russians’ teeth out so that they no longer want to mess with us.

How did your military service begin? And why did you decide to combine your life with this business?

February: I worked in the police before the war. But despite the fact that the report had already been written, according to an internal order, he had to finalize it within 3 months. I was planning to visit a friend in Denmark. But I just couldn’t watch the guys fight while we were sitting on our hands. So I decided to go to the service. By the way, my friend is now with us in the unit, he finalized his contract and came straight to us.

A fighter of the KRAKEN special forces unit with the call sign Lutyi

Under what circumstances did you start serving in the KRAKEN unit?

February: On February 24, 2022, I was home. They called me from work and told me to come to the general meeting in 10-15 minutes. Then, when the information came in, everyone began to realize what was happening. After a while, I resigned from the police and stayed at home for a while. Then I passed the CMB, signed a contract and thus began to serve.

Chern: In my case, it’s not me to KRAKEN, but rather KRAKEN to me. I didn’t get to this part right away.

At first, there was 3449 of the International Legion, I think, Zaporizhzhia direction. Only after the creation of the 0458 unit was I taken to the stormtroopers for some results, and when I moved to Kharkiv I was assigned to intelligence. In other words, we were united with 0336.

Will you continue to serve after the war?

Chern: As my friends say, as long as they offer, go for it.

How did your family perceive your intention to go to defend the state?

Chern: My family did not know where I was for the first six months. I skillfully got out of it by saying that I was going to Kyiv to organize checkpoints and so on.

But mom always feels. She was always suspicious. My grandmother still thinks we are in Kyiv. It’s better that way. Because she always tells me: “Don’t go anywhere first.”

Was it obvious to you that the war, which started in 2014 and lasted for 9 years, could change its scale so much?

February: I had thoughts, but also hoped that everything would work out. But it did not happen as expected.

The first combat missions

During your service in the KRAKEN special forces, what combat operations did you take part in?

Chern: These are mainly the areas of Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Luhansk regions. The most memorable was the operation near Soledar… It was a real “zombie apocalypse”… The reality seemed so, and I thought that this was my last operation, I realized that I might not come out of there

Soldiers of the KRAKEN special forces unit during a combat mission

Do you remember your first baptism of fire?

Chern: Oh, I remember that for the rest of my life.

This was still the Zaporizhzhia direction. We were planning to leave. At that time, the exits were planned for a day or several days, so we dressed as warmly as possible. It was spring, after all. 18-20 degrees. Everyone was dressed warmly, and I didn’t even have a proper backpack at the time…

I took a bunch of kits with me on the way out. In addition, I found out that I was immediately assigned as a machine gunner as a fixture. I remember the feeling when everything in me was distorted, even my arms. And imagine a field, the land has already been cultivated, erosion has taken its toll, plus wind and shelling. I try to run, but I end up sinking into the ground, because I have 40 kilograms of ammunition on me and I’m not a bad guy. It was as if I were running, but in reality I was only able to walk at a brisk pace. This is the funniest thing!

February: I’m unlikely to forget this. I was not yet “shelled” at all, and my first mission to Bakhmut was to repel the enemy as far as possible from the last road to the city, better known as the “Road of Life”.

I remember the excitement and anxiety before the deployment, but as soon as you unload from the armored vehicle, everything else disappears. All unnecessary thoughts disappear and you just do your job, which you have been preparing for so long. That day was unfortunate both in terms of the operation and for me personally, because it was then that my brother was wounded.

I was a few meters away when a mine hit the road. I managed to duck, but he didn’t. The shrapnel hit him and fortunately did not hit anything and stuck in his muscles. But the way I shouted: “Black 300!!!” stuck in my mind.

Bakhmut. “The Road of Life”

Can you recall any funny or ridiculous, unpredictable or even miraculous moments during your time in office?

Chern: It was near Soledar. So, we are sitting here, holding back an entire enemy battalion with all our might.

We had everything in total, plus the TRoschiks who came and said: “We’re leaving”. Well, they really went and shaved our flanks.

But I wasn’t confused. I remember how I put the brake on, sitting with my back to the enemy, and just started having dinner with the guys and telling jokes. We heard Russians talking to each other at a distance of 70 meters.

At that time, I had neither a thermal imaging scope nor a sight, but my friend had both. He was reloading, and I was working in the sector.

There have been many cases, I can’t mention them all: those related to near misses and those related to wounds that turned out to be lucky – it just entered the body, damaged the meat, but did not damage vital organs. I still have some fragments, one right under the Order for Courage.

February: In general, every combat mission is remembered in one way or another. Or the evacuation of the 200s and 300s.

Has the war changed your outlook on life?

Black: I did. War means pain and loss. For some people, it is an opportunity to understand where they belong, where they should be, and what they should do. For example, I feel in my place now and think that no matter what my steps are, no matter how wrong I am, I have come to this point. I am doing good here and I want to continue to do so.

February: Yes, I did. I always had the idea of joining a special unit, but I always either lacked the motivation to change my life dramatically or had some circumstances on the side. But the beginning of the full-scale invasion gave me an extremely strong impetus to act, which is why I am here. I am doing a job that I like and that I have dreamed of for a long time.

So, the division discovered you?

Chern: It was going to that point. No matter how you advance in your career, you are still looked at. And not as a fighter, but as a person in general, with personal qualities and traits. I think that if I am here, I have proven myself. And then we’ll see.

Do you pass on your personal experience to newcomers or colleagues?

Chern: I will say this – I am a commander, but it is easier to be a fighter and be responsible for yourself and your comrade next to you – on the left and on the right.

Nowadays, guys from civilian life come to us, so of course we share our experience and knowledge. And we try to learn all the time ourselves.

February: Even if we take the same things, we share everything: medical bags, a pair of good shoes… If possible, we always pass everything to each other.

The enemy should not be underestimated

They say: “You have to know your enemy by sight”. Could you provide an assessment of our enemy’s potential? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

February: First of all, he (the enemy – ed.) should not be underestimated, as most Ukrainians do, mocking. Our enemy also has drones and the latest military technologies. We, in turn, are also learning and improving, but their trick is that they present it as if they don’t know how to use it all. In fact, they know everything and use it skillfully.

Chern: Our media have done everything possible to make the occupiers look like “vandals”. But let’s not forget that they are holding machine guns! Their resources are much greater than ours, both in terms of numbers, human resources, and technical equipment. Yes, they have old Soviet weapons, but their industry is now on such a “rails” that it is a big problem for us. And if at the beginning of the war we still had an advantage at least in drones, now the ratio is not in our favor.

What makes fighters move forward

“To be” and “to do” are the main rules of Ukrainian defense lawyers. Based on the essence of their own values, the fighters demonstrate the most visible part of their stance – resilience. Your unity is aimed at realizing the interests of the Ukrainian side, and your actions are aimed at driving out the enemy. What tactics do you use to block the enemy’s advantage?

Chern: To stop the 600 million tenders for the construction of stadiums and direct these funds in the right direction. For me personally, it’s the most cynical thing to watch roads being repaired and paving stones being re-laid a hundred times… Shouldn’t that say something?

Against this background, it seems as if everything is going according to a pre-planned scenario that we are not aware of.

Of course, I don’t speak for everyone, because there are people who are really doing important work where they are needed.

What motivated you personally, what motivates you to go forward again and again, to beat the enemy?

February: These are our relatives who are far away from us, and the enemy is the very barrier that we need to overcome to be with our loved ones again.

But even at a distance, our family members are always there for us. A small amulet from them is a symbol of support and love from them, despite the distance.

Chern: If there are any inconveniences or discomforts, they are tolerated. The only thing I can’t get used to is the absence of my family. There are not enough of them.

Sometimes you want to open your soul, but you can’t tell your friends. I have a friend from the Artan unit and we talk to him, but still, there is no substitute for home and family. I remember when I returned from vacation and realized that I hadn’t had enough time.

Do you always manage to follow a pre-conceived plan when performing a task?

Chern: We always deviate from the plan… No matter how much we plan, no matter how much effort we put in, something will go wrong somewhere. Never a task goes according to plan. According to our plan, if there is contact with the enemy, we are no longer reconnaissance, but assault troops. We try to minimize exposure.

As my friend used to say: “Do you know what the problem is? We seem to be on our own land, but we work so stealthily that it seems as if we are on theirs (the enemy’s – ed.).”

But, no matter what, we are always looking for opportunities to mislead the enemy.

February: We consider several scenarios, for example, when there is still a need to evacuate the wounded. And sometimes, indeed, we work, as they say, on a Cossack drive.

Chern and February. Photo from personal archive

I understand that there were situations when you gradually turned from scouts to stormtroopers. What is the most difficult part of special operations?

Black: Wait. It is not always necessary to go only forward. There are and have been moments when you need to think about how to step back. There are different situations. We need to behave in such a way that we don’t lose anyone and that we can take the fight. And all the losses are mainly in waste. That’s the worst thing – not knowing when they’re going to come to your rear. And it happens.

What methods do you use to make the enemy panic and possibly surrender their position?

February: Usually, when the enemy has information that our unit is working on a certain section of the front, they send reinforcements.

The enemy knows that if we are working, something will happen anyway: a breakthrough or an assault from our side.

And we, of course, are doing everything we can to prevent them from bringing in additional military forces.

Chern: It all depends on the planning, and then the personal characteristics of each fighter are taken into account. I’ll speak for the officers and managers, because I have something to compare with: there was no planning as such.

Now we are being taken care of, and we carefully think through every step to perform our tasks as efficiently as possible. This is an indicator of a rather serious unit. There are people with different experiences. Everyone listens to each other and then chooses the most important things. Even where there are small groups, we also offer sensible solutions. But it is much better for us not to see the enemy at all.

The main qualities of a scout

What qualities should a scout have?

Chern: I can speak purely from my own example, because here in the division we are as “diverse” as possible. A cool head and composure helped me a lot. Sometimes you need to think and make a decision very quickly. Character plays a role here. Well, as my friend said, chutzpah sometimes solves the whole situation.

Soldiers of the KRAKEN special forces unit

What is the main focus of your training?

February: Physical training has always been there, including shooting at the range, tactical medicine, marches…

Chern: Personally, I have been helped by personal preparation on many occasions. There were, of course, situations when you reached the point where you wanted to give up. But you grit your teeth and go on anyway.

Willpower and character play a big role here. In general, all our training is based on character. The rest of the skill can be upgraded on the go. There are no people who are not capable of anything at all. Everyone has talent and abilities for their own personal thing. And the most important task of a good commander is to find and reveal a fighter. Then, the person will find their niche, be effective, and show good results.

I was lucky with the group, with the guys. Here, everyone understands where they are going and what they are doing. “No one uses reverse. Therefore, in psychological terms, we pump up black humor. We joke: “You can only live so long, it’s time to die,” and so on.

Chern and February. Workout between jobs

Fear of death and dreams for the future

Are you afraid of death?

Chern: We are constantly thinking about it, but we are not afraid. And why be afraid of it? The only thing I think about and worry about is that I have nothing to tell my children …

War is a time when faith, religion, and God are united into a single whole. Even if human consciousness is unable to cognize the concept of the essence of something higher, events, situations, and circumstances lead us to the concept of faith.

Like time, it has no limits. We believe and therefore act.

Belief in God or supernatural phenomena, belief in one’s own strength or in the support of one’s fellows All of this is the defining criterion of everyone’s place in the war and, ultimately, the material confirmation of our existence. Do you personally believe in God?

Chern: That’s an interesting question. I have faith. I am 100% sure that there is a certain force above us… What I used to call “luck” is not really luck. Perhaps it is partly experience or, as they say, “gut feelings,” but there are moments when you realize that something is guiding you. Being half an hour late or going faster saves your life.

There have been many such cases, and this moment cannot be ignored. And although I prayed for the last time about 15 years ago, every time I thank God that everything went well, that everyone survived and managed to return.

During the war, it is very difficult to maintain not only physical but also psychological health. War This is a dangerous factor that leads to a disturbance of mental balance, increases fatigue, anxiety, and reduces motivation. How do you overcome stress during the war?

Chern: Lately I’ve noticed that the less free time I have, the happier I am. When you are involved in something, there is no time to think about the bad.

Besides, I have a great defense reaction. Sport relaxes me, clears my head. I dream and plan. Before the war, I was involved in mixed martial arts, so I have a goal – I want to compete somewhere else and show that I have a lot of firepower. And, in general, how old am I? I’m only 28.

Laughter and black humor are also a win-win. They help out a lot. We hardly ever communicate during our outings, because it’s important to be focused on the task at hand. And after that, humor is the top. I’m joking, sometimes on the verge of a foul, but the guys like it. They are already coming up with a new name for me from my call sign – Chernushnyk and Chernoknyzhnyk… Well, I don’t like it, I can’t.

February: We have such a team that we go into battle with a smile. There is no such thing as panic or stress.

We realize that we can die at any moment from an air strike or a sniper’s bullet, but we know that no one can do this job better than us.

What do you dream about?

Chern: My military service will continue after the full-scale one is over, because I see myself in this structure. Besides, there is a desire to continue. I realized one thing for myself – my calling is to do something for someone.

February: I dream of peace, or better to say, of the complete destruction of the aggressor and all his supporters.

And for yourself?

February: I don’t need much: successful surgeries, my brothers-in-arms alive and to know that my family is safe and well.

Chern: I’m happy with everything. As they say, a man doesn’t need much to be happy. But to change something, to help someone, is the right thing to do.

Who would you like me to mention in the article?

February: I would like to remember the man we lost – a soldier with the call sign Positive. He was an extremely good comrade and I have only positive memories of him. He always said: “I can fit you with fancy clothes.” Because he was very good at military clothing. He gave us something on his own, such as tactical gloves, or carbines, or additional pouches.

Another fighter left us. The youngest of us all. Call sign Chief. He was only 19 years old! I remember his mother’s words at the funeral. She was screaming and crying very hard and saying the following words: “While you boys are young, you have to leave offspring behind.”

Interviewed by Eva Glikman , a member of the media department of the KRAKEN special forces unit

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply