Defender's Diary: Myroslav Otkovych, Journalist and Soldier Serving in the 130th Territorial Defense Battalion

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A unique sense of joy comes from walking on liberated land. You experience your surroundings with heightened sensations: you breathe in liberty when you inhale, as you wash in the lake, gazing at the surrounding grasses, steppe and farmers’ fields. None of it will ever be the same. The Russian bastards trampled this land down for a long half year, right before our eyes. They left behind burned and looted houses, unsown fields, and the trenches and bunkers they had dug.

Finally, after repeated “requests” from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the occupiers fled like thieves: swiftly, and in the night. They left behind all their dirty things, and tons of mines, grenades, bullets and other useful ammunition. These will all come in handy in the future.

Now the hard work begins in the liberated parts of Kharkiv oblast. It begins with the reinforcement of engineering positions along the border, something that will have to eventually be done along all the frontlines, particularly in those areas where the vatnik [russian] ideologues’ seeds found fertile ground in the minds of local residents, minds they deformed with russian propaganda narratives. This must be done flawlessly, promptly, and correctly.

Now this land is doubly ours, twice as special as it was before. And we have twice as much responsibility to ensure that what has occurred never happens again.

The horrors of occupation and joys of liberation must be committed to memory by the current and future generations. Every liberated meter of Ukrainian land has its own story that must be written about honestly; otherwise, it will be written for us, written in a way that benefits them, not us.

So, as a soldier serving my country, I truly do rejoice, but do so quietly, because our success has cost many lives, and I understand what lies ahead. There is a lot more that needs to be done, otherwise it can happen all over again.

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Those are just some of the major developments we have been working on this week. We will continue to keep you updated on our efforts and we thank all those who have donated, supported, and partnered with us so far – you are saving lives!!

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