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Soldier who defended Mariupol recounts battles in city centre

Tuesday, 21 February 2023, 09:38

A National Guardsman with call sign Cerberus served as a machine gunner in Mariupol. He was first at the Azovstal steel plant, then he was sent to the Azov Regiment, and then he was at the contact line in the centre of Mariupol. 

He was wounded when Russian forces hit an old house. Three days later, he was evacuated to Dnipro by helicopter. 

The National Guard of Ukraine has told this soldier’s story. 

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Cerberus served even before the full-scale invasion. He had only 30 days left before being discharged. 

 

"We woke up on alert, but we did not believe that this could all be happening for real. In two days, we were already at Azovstal, the last outpost. But then we were sent to the Azov Regiment. 

We were supplying artillery shells. After a week and a half or two weeks, ammunition ran out, and I volunteered to go to the frontline; my first position was in the centre of Mariupol, behind the drama theatre," he said. 

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He remembered how heavily the Russians shelled the city: Mariupol was under constant attack from the air, sea, and ground.

The invaders did not count their losses, as they wanted to get into the city at any price. 

"There were not only direct attacks; they tried encircling [Ukrainian troops – ed.]; entered the city at night. They were firing at us from 10-20 metres away through dense buildings. There were a lot of Russian aircraft and artillery," Cerberus said. 

He explained that Russian forces used artillery systems first, then brought tanks and armoured combat vehicles behind them. And then it was Russian infantry that entered the city. 

 

"I saw conscripts from the ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ [self-proclaimed and non-recognised Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic – ed.]. I saw Chechens twice; they were just rushing the conscripts so that they would advance. The conscripts were wearing light clothes and had simple equipment. Three gun magazines and one more in a gun. Helmets from World War II and white bandages. Some were wearing just regular clothes," Cerberus recounted.  

The blockade of the city was felt: there was a lack of food and water, and getting them became more and more dangerous. 

Despite National Guardsmen receiving food kits and first aid kits, they often lost them under the rubble or during fires. Cerberus was under the rubble after one Russian strike and miraculously survived. 

"I was injured on 28 March in the Prymorskyi district. A tank went very close to a crossroad, turned around and fired at a building with us inside. It was an old building; we were on the third floor.

The guys reacted instantly; they got me from under the rubble. In half an hour, they took me out, but I was fainting all the time. I was at Azovstal for a day and a half," Cerberus said.

He mentions this period of time only in fragments. He has said that a medic from the Azov Regiment came to him at midnight and gave him painkillers. And he was covered with warm blankets. 

On 31 March, Cerberus was evacuated from the steel plant. 

"We were flying so low that it was as if we touched the ground. When we landed, many ambulance cars arrived. I did not know where I was. But there was a very kind lady, I guess her name was Nadiia. She asked if I knew the phone number of my family and I called my mom and just said: ‘Hi mom! Hello, I am alive!’ And she somehow understood that I was in Dnipro right away," he added. 

At the moment, the soldier has almost restored his lost health and is serving with the Azov Brigade.

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