The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity). Ukraine – Part 6.


The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity). Ukraine Part 6.

I have recently written the first of two novels in my latest Apocalyptic series, ‘Force Majeure – Purgatory’ and ‘Force Majeure – Paralysis’. The third in the series will be out mid next year. Prior to these two books, I wrote a Cold War trilogy, The Red Effect, The Black Effect and The Blue Effect, portraying what I believe could have happened in the 1980’s, had the Soviets, and the Warsaw Pact, taken the decision to attack West Germany and plunged the world into a third world war.

I now ask myself the question, are we heading down that very route now? To answer that, I am in the process of writing the first book in a new Cold War trilogy, or the ‘Cool War’ as it is sometimes referred to. The first draft title is ‘The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity)’.

Where does my story start? I felt the only way to find the answer to that was to go to the very melting pot that could turn the Cool War, into a Hot War, the Ukraine. I have made three trips so far, and the next few Posts will relate my experiences while there.

Cold War Redux (Duplicity), Is due out on 23 March 2016.

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The flag of Ukraine.

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Back to Kiev again. It is a city I could never tire of visiting.

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Although a country at war, life still goes on in the capital city of Ukraine.

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One thing is for certain, they are passionate about their country.

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But there were always the reminders of the violence during the Ukrainian revolution in 2014.

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But the next day it was time to head south again and journey to the port city of Mariupol. My train would take me from Kiev to Zaporizhia (550km – 7 hours), then I would travel by car to Mariupol (250km – 3-4 hours). The alternative was via a non-express train straight to Mariupol. A direct route was not possible as the direct line ran through the Occupied territories of Donetsk, Donbass. So, the alternative route would take in the region of 22 hours. Tightly packed, no air-conditioning and facilities that are character building. Above is one of the many stations I passed during my journey.

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I eventually arrived at Zaporizhia, next was the 4 hour road journey.

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My journey by road would take me through the four fixed check points. But the Border Guard Regiment’s also set up random checkpoints, to catch any unsuspecting terrorists.

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The journey to Mariupol would skirt the occupied area of Donetsk, hence the heightened security.

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Security was exceptionally tight, my English passport always raising eyebrows and requiring considerable explanation from my escorts. This trip though, I was actually going to meet one of their colonels, a commanding officer a Border Guard Regiment.

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It was good to be back in Mariupol again.

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Mariupol is a large industrial port city on the shores of The Sea of Azov, a population of nearly half a million. The ethnic population is equally split between Russian and Ukrainian.

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The coast to the south. This is referenced in my new novel, Cold War Redux – Duplicity.

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Within an hour of being in Mariupol, I quickly spotted a number of OSCE vehicles.

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The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the worlds largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation.

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Their mandate covers issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections.

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They are currently monitoring the ceasefire in Ukraine, although neutral, they have been accused of a Russian bias.

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I did track down their compound, and although they are not armed, they do have some lightly armoured vehicles should they be required to go close to a conflict zone.

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I also spotted the occasional UNHCR vehicle.

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Pavlo, one of my escorts, and a good friend, then took me on a tour of the city. This road led to the battered city police headquarters.

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The building is adjacent to two roads and as you can see, it is currently derelict.

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Pro-Russian separatists attempted to take over the police station on the 9 May, 2014.

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They were unsuccessful. Up to 60 Pro-Russian separatists were alleged to have attacked the city police headquarters.

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They took over a couple of the floors, but the National Guard and other security forces were dispatched and quickly assaulted the station in order to reoccupy it.

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During the clash between the security forces, which included the Omega unit of the National Guard. Twenty+ militants were killed and a number were captured. But during the clash, the building caught fire and was soon completely gutted.

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I had half a day to myself, so I had another target I wanted to seek out. The two vehicles above gave me an indicator that I was on the right track.

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This is the home of the Mariupol detachment of the Security Service of Ukraine. The Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny, SBU.

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The building was raided in February 2014, and numerous documents, hard drives and other data were stolen or destroyed. The raid was allegedly ordered by President Viktor Yanukovych.

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The next day was another visit to a military unit. This time the Border Guard Regiment based in Mariupol.

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I had secured a night-vision device and two high quality pairs of binoculars for the unit, which they were pleased to accept. The soldier I am handing the NVD to, is a Colonel, the commanding officer of the regiment .

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The sentry was happy to pose for a photograph. The regiment was responsible for preventing a number of ministers fleeing the country via airports during 2014. President Yanukovych was forced to flee the country by other means as a consequence of their vigilance.

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As ever, my reception was positive and I was always made welcome.

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That evening, Pavlo and I went for a drink and a good meal. To start with, salted dried fish and a tin opener for your beer……

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The next course was significantly better.

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But there was no time to rest on my laurels.

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It had been arranged for me to meet up with the parachute brigade based in Mariupol.

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As ever, I came bearing gifts. Ten full sets of British Army MTP combats. Trousers, shirts and combat jackets.

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British Army MTP uniforms are a prized possession for the Ukrainian paras.

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Their hospitality, as ever, was second to none.

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Although they live a spartan life, their morale is extremely high.

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Weapons were always close at hand. Every soldier was equipped with an excellent first, first aid kit.

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The 79th Parachute Brigade are legendary. They fought extensively in the Battle in Shakhtarsk Raion where they secured the Russian border and the strategic Savur-Mohyla hill.

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In September 2014, the 79th joined the 3rd Separate Spetsnaz unit and National Guard Units in the defence of Donetsk Airport. Due to their stubborn resistance, they were referred to as ‘Cyborgs’.

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As they are one of the Quick Reaction Forces, QRF, in the region, they are at a permanent state of readiness. While sat inside, i quickly discovered that the object my foot was resting on was and anti-tank mine. Apart from the standard turret mounted 14.5mm KVPT machine gun, the vehicle I was in carried an AGS-17 grenade launcher. They also had at least half a dozen light anti tank weapons. All vehicles were stocked up with large stocks of water, food and ammunition, so would be able to sustain operations for a number of days in order to prevent a Russian intrusion into the Mariupol Zone.

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This is one very professional unit and is more than capable of giving any enemy a bloody nose.

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The guys out on exercise. The soldier on the left had his birthday yesterday :).

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My friends also made sure I was well entertained. Pablo on the right and Athina on the left.

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Jarick and his lovely wife. Jarick was not so lovely….getting me drunk on Gorilka, Vodka, then finishing it off with Horseradish Gorilka. I spent 36 hours completely out of it in bed. 🙂

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And last, but far from least. My good friend Egor. We discovered that we were, at the height of the Cold War in the 80s, on opposite sides of the fence.

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Igor as a Captain in the Soviet Airforce in the 80’s. At that time, we were sworn enemies. Now, we are sworn friends.

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Don’t forget, Cold War Redux – Duplicity, due out on 23rd March.

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9K37 Buk. By Ajvol: – Own work

It was, and is still, a very complicated situation in Ukraine. So, if some of my information is incorrect, then please flag it to me and I can amend the content. Thank you for reading this latest Post.

Site and content, including photographs, is copyrighted to Harvey Black.

 

7 Comments

  1. Sounds good as I enjoyed your first trilogy, just hope I am still here for it all. I have just finished the first two volumes of the post apocalyptic series and can hardly wait for the final instalment. I suspect your portrayal of the dog eat dog life style of the survivors sadly would indeed be the case. I suspect the regional centre would be much more hard hearted. I do not see them “wasting” food, safe water and medical supplies on survivors who are unlikely to live or be capable of useful work. Enjoyed your photos. Robert.

    1. Hi Robert. Glad you have enjoyed what you have read so far. I believe the situation after an apocalyptic event would be horrific, but I am sure the vestiges of humanity will exist some where. How long will it last? Who knows. But, the story is far from over…. Writing book 3 now.

  2. Just imagine how beautiful this area would be without the marks of so much war on it. Thanks for the “insider’s look” at Ukraine. Best of luck with your new book, Harvey.

      1. I know! The world is in very bad shape. Who would have thought that having learned all those hard lessons after the two world wars there would still be so much fighting going on? And it seems to be everywhere. Maybe there’s something in the water….

  3. Looking forward to your new book. Will it be available via Amazon? All the best, David

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