SPECIAL ENVOY TO KIEV
Vladimir Tkachuk (Kramatorsk, 1970) is the commander of the Army chaplain battalion, but he also works as a doctor. He had to rebuild his life with his wife and five children in Kiev after losing everything in the war in 2014 in eastern Ukraine. At that time, the Protestant pastor lived in Kramatorsk, a city very close to the Donesk oblast, which, together with Lugansk, is part of the separatist Donbass region.
When the armed conflict broke out between the pro-independence forces of the self-proclaimed Donesk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Ukrainian government, Tkachuk was just a civilian but joined the soldiers and had to learn to treat the wounded and recognize the
corpses of the dead. “I had the hardest part of identifying the bodies and calling their relatives to tell them the news,” he laments and recalls that among the dead there were very young boys, 20 years old, who reminded him of his children.
Eight years later, he relives the bitter moment of having failed against the Russian-backed rebels, but takes refuge in his faith and in the work he now does to help military veterans overcome the traumas of war. “That does not mean that their mental health does not allow them to be prepared to go to the front,” he explains.
His assessment of the Ukrainian Army is that compared to 2014 “it has increased its preparation and equipment a hundred times more.” “At that time we did not have enough ammunition or protection. We are now prepared and motivated to fight Russia,” he emphasizes.
About Putin, he comments that he is a “psychopath and sadist” and that he only faces the weak. “If we are strong, the probability of a war breaking out will be less and less,” he says, adding that “I don’t think there will be a war, there is only intimidation.”
Tkachuk assures that Ukraine is paying a very high price for wanting to be part of Europe. “Other countries entered the European bloc more easily without such a high human cost. We pay for it with our lives,” he says.
“We don’t want to be part of Russia. We have freely and consciously decided to want to be part of Europe”, he continues and takes his words to another level “we are going to fight for our country in any way, but we are and will be grateful for the help of any nation”.
Ukraine is caught up in an armed conflict originated by Russia. Putin has been unable to bury the memories of the former Soviet Union and threatens to expand its territory beyond its borders. The first thing he recovered was the Crimean peninsula. Now you can try to bring back the Donbass, a historical and cultural region where 84% of the population considers itself Russian.