Ukraine war: Teachers, plumbers and builders among volunteer soldiers preparing for the worst on Belarus border | World News

In the forest and snow-filled marshes of Ukraine’s 621-mile border with Belarus is a territorial defense unit prepared for the worst.

The 100th Brigade is made up mostly of volunteers – some teachers, plumbers, builders – who have enlisted to fortify the flanks of the Volynska area and prepare against another Russian attack from the north.

The 124-mile stretch of ground secured by the 100th Brigade is now littered with anti-tank mines and marked by watchposts.

The Kremlin blamed the attack, which killed 89 soldiers, on the use of mobile phones.

“It’s high,” says the unit’s deputy commander, Capt. Vasyl Sydorchuk, from the top of his newly constructed snow-covered mountain fortress.

“Everything is well-observed from here: the junction. You can work with grenade launchers, machine guns – you can use everything.”

A little further up the hill of Captain Sidorchuk is a village where northern Ukrainians have lived for generations.

They are shaken by the news of the attack coming from the border as they enter their homes. Some of them have family members living just 12 miles away on the other side.

“We all lived together. Half of our people lived in Belarus. I lived and worked there. I have relatives there and we visited them often,” says resident Oksana Trufanova.

“Some of them believe us, some don’t.”

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Just across the street from Oksana lives Nadia Andrevia and her daughter Svetlana. Nadia is 75 years old and has lived in the border village all her life.

“I’m not going and I don’t want to leave my land and run away. Where should I go? I’m 75 years old and those beasts want to force us to leave our land,” she says.

“Let them die themselves or God destroy them.”

Her daughter is deeply concerned by the atrocities in other parts of Ukraine.

“After Bucha – after what those monsters have done there, I thought many times that it would be better to have a missile hit me here than to experience what they do to the Ukrainian people”.

Nadia Andreuya, right, and her daughter Svetlana
Image:
Nadia Andrevia, right, and her daughter Svetlana

Just down the road from their village is a lake that stretches across the border. On the one hand, the last Ukrainian outpost. On the other hand, a green Belarusian watchtower.

last month, Russian President Putin And Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced a joint regional military unit in October after massive joint training operations.

Russia invaded Ukraine from the Belarusian border in February, and Ukraine’s top defense officials are sounding the alarm over another incursion from the north.

This time the Ukrainians insist they are well prepared.

Explosions can be heard from Captain Siderchuk’s mountain fortress.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “This is from our boys.”

The explosions are coming from a place a few kilometers down the road. They are part of a simulation exercise the 100th Brigade is conducting daily to prepare for a possible new front on its doorstep.

A tank stands in a valley at the bottom of a hill. Behind him, in the form of a white pickup truck, is a 50-caliber anti-aircraft gun manned by two soldiers in winter camouflage. In front of the tank, soldiers carrying Kalashnikovs weave through fireworks.

“We are here with a large number of men and ammunition,” says Captain Sidevorchuk.

“We are ready to meet them.”



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