Ceasefire at the front
The guns are falling silent in eastern Ukraine. The volunteers of the Ghost Brigade (Prizrak) want to fight fascism.
By Susann Witt-Stahl, Junge Welt
September 16: On Thursday night a ceasefire went into effect between the Army and National Guard of the Kiev regime on one side, and the troops of the internationally unrecognized republics of Donetsk and Lugansk on the other. As observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported, the ceasefire was observed by both parties. Since midnight it was quiet, declared Ertugrul Apakan, head of the OSCE Mission, in the morning.
In the hours before the start of the truce, achieved through international mediation by Russia, France and Germany, it didn’t feel that way. In the city of Alchevsk, nearly 40 kilometers from Lugansk, unusually strong artillery fire was heard in the evening. The army of the Lugansk People’s Republic was put on high alert, and instructions for protective measures were issued to the population.
|The positions of the Ukrainian army can be seen through the artillery periscope.
Photos: Susann Witt-Stahl
With a jump over the ditch and then in single file, approximately 100 meters along a rope stretched across the ground, we go past the otherwise mined field to the former shelter of the German fascists. “We do not want the Ukrainians to get nervous and tempt a reaction,” explains “Nemo.” “We have a kind of gentlemen’s agreement with them. Both sides do not shoot as long as the other side shows no obvious hostile activities.” Here there was already a ceasefire, which was agreed to at the start of school year and has been in force since September 1. “Valentina,” a 28-year-old volunteer from Poland, reported that there are some of her compatriots on the other side: “Many Polish nationalists are fighting for Kiev,” says the Communist, who lost her job in her home country after her solidarity with the Donbass insurgents was revealed: “The boss threw me out.”
|A life between boredom and extreme stress: Volunteers of the Ghost Brigade.|
Whether on rifle butts, sleeping bags or the upper arms of the combatants — the logo of the Brigade is everywhere, the identification with “Prizrak” is strong. The international combatants have joined the organization “InterUnit” and bear the emblem of their role models, the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Collected from across Europe in a time of war, they therefore refer to the historical importance of their cause: “We carry out the armed struggle, which the Communist Party of Ukraine failed to do in 2014,” explains “Nemo.” “Fascism must be stopped here.”
In general, the conflict in Ukraine is considered a “war of old men,” because a large number of fighters were formed in the Red Army. Here it’s different: Many of the “Prizrak” soldiers are very young, but already look like old frontline soldiers. Their faces are drawn from the rigors of an existence teetering between the agonizing boredom of nothingness on one side and extreme stress during firefights on the other. The fighters show where Ukrainian mortar shells have crashed. Their handguns, rifles and pistols — also Russian PK machine guns — are always at hand. I do not see heavy weapons.
|Soup and noodles again: The fighters’ food is cooked on an open fire.|
Translated by Greg Butterfield