Soledar’s defender “Mars”: either we kill the Wagnerites, or our commanders shoot them

In January-February, Ukrainian troops blocked the advance of Russian terrorists west of Soledar. Near it is a village that took a big hit and became the site of fierce battles. During the week, it passed several times from the hands of the invaders to the control of our liberators of 10 separate mountain assault brigade “Edelweiss”. In an exclusive interview, the leader of one of the assault groups with the call sign “Mars” told how the key battle for this settlement took place. He shared his experience of fighting with Wagnerites and foreign mercenaries and told how he managed to capture one of the Russian terrorists.

How did you plan the assault on this settlement?

The village we stormed is in a very inconvenient location. To get to it, it was necessary to cross a river and an open field. At the same time, the river was not covered with ice, and the field was completely shot through. I was in this area for the first time. And we spent three hours planning how best to carry out the assault. But it was impossible to draw up a normal plan, because we did not know either the number of the enemy or his location. Our drone was monitoring the village, but it did not notice how the enemies carefully ran between the houses.

Everyone on my team felt scared and confused. The situation was complicated by the fact that we had not eaten or slept for about a day. We only had one bottle for six of us. It was freezing.

What kind of reinforcement did you have?

There were 14 of us. The first six of us went on the assault, and the others covered it and had to secure themselves in the already repelled positions. According to a similar scenario, this settlement was stormed by several other groups that entered the village from other directions.

What was your weapon?

The first six had four machine guns and two RPK, as well as three or four grenades each. I personally had 9 stores. Ammunition was scarce, so we couldn’t clear every house and throw a grenade into every basement we passed. We simply examined them and headed to the position. Already near the point where we were supposed to be entrenched, there was a basement into which I decided to throw a grenade. Immediately after that, a cry of “Akhtung!” was heard from the basement. Later, we managed to capture the Russian radio and listening to the enemy’s negotiations, we realized that there were Iranian mercenaries in the basement at that time.

Have you and the enemy engaged in shooting battles?

Behind one of the houses in this village, I heard the Russians talking among themselves. When I threw a grenade at them, I heard them shout: “ODESSA!” This was their password, after which everyone ran out of the dugout and took up the defense. The enemy was about 20 meters away. We shot from the corners of the house. There were five of them. However, they did not retreat and fired a heavy machine gun. In response, we threw grenades at them both from both corners of the house and through its roof. As a result of a half-hour firefight, we managed to get behind the house and finish off four of the five opponents. Another one managed to escape. All of them were Wagnerites.

You passed certain houses and basements without cleaning. Didn’t you go back to them later to make sure there was no one there?

After we got into our position and established ourselves, I left the men there and decided to clear all the houses and cellars that we had just passed. I heard Russian in one of the basements. Quietly approached the entrance. At that moment, one of the Russians was coming out, and I managed to be the first to point a machine gun at him. After my shots, the other Russians slammed the door. I offered them to surrender three times. But in response – silence. They brought me grenades and I threw three of them into the basement hood. The door opened by itself from the shock wave. I threw another grenade at the door. After that, the Russians continued to shoot back. So I threw four more grenades into the cellar. Another Russian militant then ran out of a nearby house and tried to escape. However, our shots caught up with him.

In the evening, when it was already dark, two people came to our position and asked: “Who will carry out the wounded?” We quickly realized that it was the Russians who took us as their own. So we captured one and the other tried to escape and we shot him.

Who was this prisoner?

He was a fighter of the “Wagner” Communist Party, who had previously been in prison for murder. He was 42 years old and his name was Dmitry. You wouldn’t say he was a prisoner by him. He said that he is paid 200 thousand rubles ($2.7 thousand – ed.) every month. We treated the prisoner normally: we gave him water to drink, we did not beat him. He wanted to live and therefore surrendered. I believe that he acted adequately. And the one who was next to him and tried to escape made a big mistake.

Convicts in the Russian army are not counted as people. On the captured walkie-talkie, we heard an intercept in which the Zeks, during our assault, asked their command to allow them to retreat. However, they were refused and told: “Stand until the end or we will shoot you here on the spot.” They are treated not like people, but like wild meat. They hand in all the documents before going on an assault.

How do the Wagnerites show themselves in battle?

They are very skilled warriors. They have great tactics and good coordination. They don’t have any

fear of the enemy and they do not run away, but accept the battle. In addition, they have good equipment, high-quality armor, helmets, first-aid kits and cool weapons. We managed to beat them because we took the initiative and attacked unexpectedly. They did not expect us to brazenly enter their rear and storm.

From the same radio intercepts, we heard that the Russians are afraid of us. They conveyed the message to their command: “Specialists have arrived!”. Although in reality, most of us were mobilized workers and tractor drivers, who, although they did not have much military experience, but poured themselves into the Wagnerites to the fullest.

Our fighters often note that Russian attack aircraft are drugged.

So. During this assault, I threw four grenades into the basement, and after that the Russian continued to shoot back. It also happened that we shot at the Russians and saw that the bullets hit them, but the attack aircraft themselves continued to walk or crawl forward. A sane person cannot do this. After all, every impact of a fragment or a bullet causes enormous pain and numbness.

How long did the assault last?

Not counting the preparation, it lasted up to three hours. During this time, we put together more than 40 Russians. There were no losses.

What did you feel during this assault?

There was a lot of adrenaline and great excitement. I was most afraid that we would not have 300s or 200s in our group. After all, in this case, the whole group would stop the assault and start carrying out the wounded.

That is, you managed to save 100% of the staff?

During the assault itself – yes. But when we secured our positions, the Russians began a massive bombardment with tanks, mortars and barrel artillery, which lasted for about three hours. As a result of this shelling, I lost two people.

One of the fighters went with me to the assault in the first group. He was already over 50 years old and wore glasses. After the assault, it was already night in the yard and he could not see well. I offered him to leave the position, to rest a little, so that someone would replace him. However, he said, “I’m staying.” So he stayed there forever. It was simply covered with earth after a direct hit by a projectile into the dugout. After that, we dismantled the rubble to dig out his body.

And the second fighter’s legs were broken and his spine was broken. When we found him, his face was terribly distorted. It was a horror… He suffered a lot before death and died with such an expression on his face.

It was already the second night without sleep and normal food. People got very tired and started making gross mistakes. And the reinforcement did not fit. There was simply no one to replace us. However, we managed to remove the bodies of our brothers.

After I came back from the positions, the only thing I wanted was to lie down, hear nothing, say nothing, and not move at all. However, it was not possible to get a full night’s sleep. There was a lot of work ahead.