The time of reckoning is near.
The Deputy commander of the Belarusian Kastus Kalinouski Regiment Vadzim Kabanchuk is fighting in Ukraine. He gave a great interview at the Studio Х97 show by Charter97.org.
“Putin and Lukashenka will end up like war criminals. They will be convicted by the International Tribunal if they survive to this time. If they don't survive, there may be different options. Justice will prevail, and it will not be possible to hide out in a bunker. Although Russia is geographically large, Putin still has other safe shelters. Where can our comrade Lukashenka hide? Modern means of reconnaissance, monitoring and destruction give an opportunity of shooting Belarus throughout. Ukrainians will not forget that they launched missiles and aircraft from the territory of Belarus,” the Belarusian volunteer is sure.
We are publishing the video and the full text of the interview. Host — Yevhen Klimakin.
Subscribe to the Charter'97 Youtube channel - charter97video. Share the video with your friends. Like and write comments.
— Vadzim, first of all, I want to ask you as a deputy of the Kastus Kalinouski Regiment: how is the morale of the Kalinovites in general now?
— The morale, like everyone else in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is at its best. Everyone knows the good news from the front: we are advancing, and at a pace that the enemy did not expect, it was a surprise for everyone.
— Since the beginning of September, thousands of square kilometers have already been recaptured. Do you want to say this is a reason for happiness? Because against the backdrop of terrible events, there is still anxiety.
— Of course, the Russians still have great military potential. Because, unfortunately, taking into account the large-scale offensive, they were running away that we took relatively few prisoners. We have hundreds of prisoners, but thousands should have been caught. But they, apparently, realized in time and gave the order to abandon ammunition, weapons and retreat. Now our guys are showing these abandoned tanks and other equipment documented on numerous videos and photos.
Do you expect them to do any trick? In general, one should always expect a dirty trick. We can't relax. Actually, we all understand very well that they are only wounded, but the beast has not yet been finished off, they have yet to be finished off.
By the way, I recently like the rhetoric change of the Ukrainian top political leadership: I'm talking about the well-known article by Zaluzhny and the statements of the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Danilov, they began to speak about necessary things to come to a logical conclusion to this war. In fact, we must proceed from the national interests of Ukraine and be guided only by this. It is possible that actions will come to Russia because it is necessary to destroy the Russian military infrastructure. By the way, this applies not only to Russia but also to Belarus.
— How do you think the situation will develop further? What possible scenarios of its development do you see?
— The offensive cannot go on indefinitely. The Ukrainian army, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be forced to take an operational pause, as communications are now stretched, it is necessary to gather reserves. As far as I understand, our means are not unlimited. The current situation is a unique case, and the General Staff of Ukraine achieved it mainly because they outmanoeuvred the Russians in planning the war. The Russians fell for the misinformation that a large-scale offensive was being prepared in the Kherson region, pulled the most combat-ready forces there and felt quite relaxed in other directions, and paid the price for this.
What is the basic way of conducting such kinds of counteroffensives? It is carried out with the main strike, the auxiliary strike and the blocking strike. Now the main strike has been inflicted on the Kharkiv region, there was an auxiliary strike in the Kherson region, which began a day earlier, and now, perhaps, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are preparing a blocking strike. Time will tell. I think we will see some good news in the future.
— Vadzim, I carefully read your interview that you gave a month ago, and you said that Ukraine must remember and in no case forget, and Poland must remember this, and the Baltic countries, that there is Belarus and Lukashenka. Either he or some other Kremlin lackeys may decide to send regular Belarusian troops to Ukraine. Has the situation changed this month? Do you still think this could happen, or has the risk already decreased?
— Belarus still constitutes a permanent threat. But this is not a threat of the near future, the next two weeks, perhaps not even a month. They need time and resources in order for them to build up an invasion group from Belarus. Everyone remembers when they were preparing an offensive in February 2022. The whole of Belarus broadcast and posted numerous columns that were moving toward the border of Belarus and Ukraine. They need to act in a similar way if they are preparing for an attack.
The Belarusian army has insufficient offensive potential. They can make some small provocations at the border, but not more. No advance in depth is possible with the potential that the Belarusian army has. Plus, the morale of the Belarusian army was not at its best, and after they saw what was happening with the Russian army in Ukraine, I think it became even less.
As one of the Ukrainian analysts noted and, by the way, said “hello” to Lukashenka, in terms of their aggregate and structure, the troops that are now defeated in the Kharkiv axis are approximately comparable in size to the Belarusian army. “Hello” to comrade Lukashenka: together with the Belarusian volunteers, the Armed Forces of Ukraine can do the same with the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus.
— We all really hope that this "comrade", who is not our friend, but the enemy Aliaksandr Lukashenka, will hiccup and backfire already this year. Surely, you have people and you know the situation and moods among the Belarusian military. What is going on there, what are the moods among them? Are they scared? Are they tired of Lukashenka, the tyrant-puppet of the Kremlin?
— They didn't really want to fight even previously. By the way, I support the fact that our Belarusian servicemen are realists, they understand whose interests they will fight for in Ukraine. We had information that 7 out of 10 servicemen do not want to fight, do not want to take part in this aggressive war. They already understood that the Russian Federation has already stalled, despite all the propaganda that flows from the TV screens.
Now they understand that the Russian Federation in reality is a colossus with feet of clay, and all these lionhearted statements about the second army of the world are just propaganda. They actually turned out to be an army of the 20th century, which “we can repeat”, “to Berlin”, and so on. In fact, they repeated the "feat" of 1942, when in the same geographical places, in the same axes, tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers were taken into cauldrons, destroyed and killed. "We can repeat!"
— Do you accept the scenario of the liquidation of Lukashenka and Putin by their own people?
— Everything is possible, but as far as I understand the negative selection made by Lukashenko, and Putin too, there are no worthy people left who could take such a decisive step. If there is any chance, it is quite insignificant.
— Regarding the number of fighters of the Kalinouski Regiment. What are the developments there? Previously, a lot of Belarusians were coming to you, and most of them came at the beginning of the war. Is it still going on or has it halted?
— Guys continue to come to us, maybe not in such a large number as it was at the beginning of the war. But new recruits are constantly arriving. In general, there is a normal rotation, when some of the guys go back to their families or on their own business. Because the war has already been going on for more than six months. Not everyone thought and counted on going to Ukraine for such a long period. New guys are coming, having training, changing old ones, and some of the old ones are coming back again. That is, such rotational moments occur.
The fact that part of the diaspora is now in its place, in Poland and Lithuania units are being created and deployed for training and training. This is very important, people will not focus on one place, only in Ukraine. In fact, we will now disperse the attention of the dictatorship along the entire borders. Therefore, even for those who do not have such an opportunity, we recently put a message on our channels that you don’t have to worry too much if you can’t get a visa, you still come and join the regiment.
Get trained, train personally in Belarus. Your time will come. This means the creation of a force reserve in Belarus.
— I have no right to ask about your actual dislocation. This is natural, I understand, classified military information. Please tell us about hot spots where the Kalinovites fought, after February 24, where were you personally?
— The suburbs of Kyiv, Irpin, Bucha, Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Vasilkiv, then our guys were in the south of Ukraine, and even now they continue to take part in the offensive there as well. There are still our divisions in other places. I have no right to indicate the exact locations.
— Where was the hottest one?
— Probably the largest battles were Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk for our guys. We suffered the most significant losses there. Everyone knows when the "Brest" group was actually ambushed, several guys died there and two were captured. There was also a local counteroffensive in the south, in the Kherson region, in the area of Davidiv Brid. Our boys were there too. And since for the majority it was generally the first such large-scale, combined-arms battle, this is also considered a significant operation for us.
— I am Ukrainian and almost every family has already lost someone. If not a relative, then a close friend, fellow or neighbour. And you know that, because you've lost your fellows more than once. A question that is very relevant to all of us. How do we stay human so we don't get absorbed in this hatred? Hatred for the opponent, hatred for the enemy. You ask yourself this question? How to save yourself?
— I decided for myself that all these reflections should be left for later, after the war. Because if we start going to extremes, then this is still a destabilizing factor for the human mind and, as they say, you can just go crazy if you take everything personally, including what they did in Ukraine.
It is clear that these issues do not fit in the mind of a normal person, especially in the twenty-first century. They will not forget this, including the fact that the Ukrainians will never forget the assistance in the aggression provided by the Lukashenka regime. The time of reckoning is near. As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold.
— And what should be the revenge in the case of these two nonhumans: Lukashenka, Putin and all these retinues around?
— They'll end up like war criminals. They will be convicted by the International Tribunal if they survive to this time. If they do not survive, there may be different options. Justice will prevail, and it will not be possible to hide out in a bunker. Although Russia is geographically large, Putin still has other safe shelters.
And what should our comrade Lukashenka do, where can he actually hide? Modern means of reconnaissance, monitoring and destruction give an opportunity of shooting Belarus throughout. Ukrainians will not forget that they launched missiles and aircraft from the territory of Belarus,” the Belarusian volunteer is sure.
— In one of your interviews, you said that after the victory of Ukraine, of course, you would like to liberate Belarus from the regime, from the dictatorship. How do you imagine that? Can you imagine it?
— I will not disclose specific scenarios so as not to help the special services, there may be several options. But it will not be, as in the view of many, some kind of civil war, that we will move on some kind of front. No, it will happen in a different way. Moreover, there is absolutely no need for us to fight with our Belarusian guys, conscripts, most of whom supported or were themselves at the 2020 protests.
We have seen that history has already shown examples when dictatorships began to crumble like a house of cards. There is a recent historical example, the offensive in Ukraine. Everything begins to fall. It seemed that such a formidable force opposed the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but a cascade collapse began.
Or the example of the Soviet Union: with its force, special services, army! The year 1991 came and it had gone. Our main goal is the dictator and his closest assistants, the Lukashists, special services, there are not a lot of them, people who have soiled their hands in crimes against the Belarusian people.
All the other guys have nothing to worry about. There will be a new Belarus with new armed forces, with a new police force, where the security forces will be the most respected people in society and receive decent salaries. And this will be an army of a different type, and not an ersatz-soviet one, which we inherited from the Soviet Union.
— What should adequate people among the Belarusian military do now?
— First of all, do not follow criminal orders. If, nevertheless, you will have an order to enter Ukraine then do not follow it. If you cannot sabotage it for some reason and cross the border, there are many ways to go over to the side of the Ukrainians (they have already been announced) or disable military equipment.
You need to mentally prepare for the events that will take place in Belarus, I think their time is not far off. Then every soldier will have a choice: for whom to fight? To be with the dictator and his lackeys, or to be with the Belarusian people. To whom did one swear an oath?
— When will it happen? You said not far off. What do you think? What are the predictions?
— I feel like it's next year.
— I would like to see it all sooner. What are the actual needs of the Kalinouski Regiment?
— We need vehicles in order to be mobile - these are pickups and SUVs. We need modern drones of various configurations: both reconnaissance and strike. The guys have created a webpage and we have social media profiles. You can visit our social media, there is information about official support. Our volunteers are verified. It is possible to contact and provide assistance for us through them.
— In 2020, many thought that victory was already very close. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Did you expect victory then, or did you understand that it would not work out in 2020?
— At some point, I also had euphoria about how many people took to the streets. Because the experienced participants in the protests in Belarus remember (maybe this is already a myth) that if 100 thousand people come out, the regime will fall. More people came out, but it didn't happen.
History has shown that without kinetic force, the energy of the protest mass itself does not work under such a dictatorship. Yes, such a number of people would have shaken another power in a European country. But we live under a fairly tough dictatorship, which has been strengthening for 28 years, so here we need a combination of other methods to move this regime forward.
— What conclusions can we draw today from 2020? What errors are not to be allowed? What should we do? What to prepare for?
— Now we are actually living in wartime and, as for me, only a comprehensive military plan can withdraw the regime. Yes, it may not be completely militaristic, civil society institutions may take part. But one coordination center must draw up and implement such a plan. We must follow it.
Why are civil society institutions and people's support important? In order to prevent the worst scenario, when some part of the security forces nevertheless begins to carry out Lukashenka's orders for some actions. The presence of people on the street and the appeal of the relatives of these fighters can stop the guys from crossing the line when Belarusians start shooting at each other.
I repeat once again: there is no enmity and there are no problems either with the Armed Forces or with most of the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, internal troops. There is just a bunch of criminals who gave criminal orders, and by chance, some parts obeyed them in 2020. That's when we will have to remove them when the regime shift begins, so as not to turn the recent history of Belarus into the history of some serious internal conflict.
— We, Charter'97, two weeks ago recorded an interview with priest Viachaslau Barok, a Belarusian who says directly that Belarusians should prepare for armed resistance. Because of Lukashenka's and his regime's actions... The Church and God teach that it is necessary to resist evil. Are the Belarusians ready to resist by force if there is such a need?
— We are preparing for this, and I fully agree with Priest Barok. By the way, we have known each other since the 2000s. If the violence has reached such a point that it cannot be stopped either by word or, in church terms, by prayer, then we must stop it with our hands, and we have every right to do it as the citizens of our country.
First of all, Belarusians should be prepared for the fact that at some point we will all need decisiveness, we will all need willpower.
— I would like our audience to get acquainted with you not only with the military but also with the person. You were one of the first political prisoners in Belarus, you got a dose for half a year back in 1997. Did you already understand at this time (because some just opened their eyes in 2020) that in the case of Lukashenka, Belarusians are dealing with absolute evil?
— It has been clear to me since 1994. I did not vote for him then, like my whole family. But then the attitude towards him was as if this person had come for six months or a year. We were still students at the Polytechnic University then, turned on the TV and when they showed Lukashenka there, it was something like a panorama of laughter for us, a kind of Petrosyan comic show. He had very funny jackets, and hairstyles.
When I started participating in protests in 1996, it was already clear that they were moving into a suppression format. The suppression format was forceful, and the confrontation was also forceful. Rare that actions in the 1990s and early 2000s did not take place without clashes with the police. Then our guys and the guys of the Young Front united joined the team, went to the gym, worked out and trained.
And then there was another episode: we came to Ukraine for training in the summer of 1997 at the invitation of the Ukrainians. Now the favourite topic of Belarusian propaganda is about militant camps in Ukraine. In fact, there were very few of us. But what did it give me? It gave me a vector for life.
— You recalled the Young Front. You have such a decent service record. You are one of the Zubr founders. You were a member of the Krai sports-patriotic organization, and, if I'm not mistaken, you were one of its founders. What influenced you to become a Belarusian patriot?
— Uladzimir Karatkevich probably influenced me the most. When you read Korotkevich's "Spikes Under Your Sickle" and his poems, you cannot remain indifferent. Back then, when I entered the Polytechnic University in Minsk, because I ended up in Minsk, in the capital, it probably had a very strong influence on me, because I ended up in a different, one might say, cultural layer. I had the opportunity to attend public events. There was an opportunity to access literature, which I had not previously had and, in general, was not even interested in.
I am from a military family and we had an optional study of the Belarusian language, I didn’t know it at all, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t read. I remember my train trips, when I was going home from Minsk, I took the Belarusian-language newspapers (“Svaboda”, “Nasha Niva”) and read them. An electric train went to Bobruisk for three hours, and I was sitting and reading. An electric train went to Bobruisk for three hours, and I was sitting and reading. I got language practice when I started talking with the guys from the Young Front, I already learned the Belarusian language with them.
— You moved from Belarus to Ukraine in 2014. It is clearly, revolution, annexation, Donbas. But, nevertheless, what was the main motivation for your decision? It's still a different country.
— I moved because I understood that a war was starting, and this war would develop into a large-scale conflict. I thought this one would happen in 2014, but it was postponed until 2022. I went with pragmatic goals. I understood that as a result of a military clash, the Russian Empire and its satellite Belarus would be defeated. The war opens up opportunities for us to make changes in Belarus. And so it happened, this window of opportunity is opening.
— Vadzim, we often hear from all sorts of experts that right now, the next week, the next fight will be decisive. In your opinion, has this decisive moment in Russia's war against Ukraine already happened, or is it still to come?
— I think a very important thing has happened. There was a psychological breakdown in the Russian army. That is, we observed for half a year that they held the initiative, in one way or another they were carrying out offensive actions. But, as it turned out in reality, they were absolutely not ready for such a development. They are not ready to defend the occupied territories.
They were still somehow affected by the propaganda about “denazification” and about “special military operation” during these six months. Now it has become clear to everyone that even their so-called elite units, the air assault troops, are simply running, abandoning everything and running. Because, in essence, they have already understood.
What are they fighting for? What are they protecting? Obviously, few people believe Putin's propaganda narratives about the Ukrofascists and so on. A psychological breakdown has occurred, they still have military power, and it has yet to be defeated, but this will happen in a relatively short period of time.
Ukraine is getting stronger every day. Lend-Lease is not in full force now, the main deliveries are yet to come. Their assault units, for the most part, have retreated, they are now practically unable to conduct offensive operations, and, as we see, they are also unable to defend themselves. But this is not a reason, of course, to relax and think that victory is close. Still, the price of victory will be high and, unfortunately, the price is human lives.
— Tell me, please, what do ordinary Ukrainians say when the Kalinovites enter villages and settlements? How do they perceive it? What are the reactions? What did you hear?
— Ordinary people, Ukrainians, as a rule, greet us, when they find out that we are against Lukashenka, that we are normal Belarusians. They say: well done, we will figure it out now and then we will help you put things in order. Such things. Absolutely friendly.
In the first days, when the war began, there were incidents, when Kyiv was simply blocked off by checkpoints every 200 meters. Most of our guys did not yet have Ukrainian military documents, we received the IDs later. There were incidents. But the attitude towards us immediately began to change as soon as it became known that the Belarusians created their own unit and widely covered this agenda in the media. We felt it. When we passed checkpoints, they began to recognize us: oh, Belarusians, we are together, well done. Positively.
— Vadzim, is it true that your wife is Ukrainian?
— Correct. My wife is Ukrainian. Also a soldier in my unit. I met her, however, under tragic circumstances. It was August 10, 2015. We took part in the battle in the Volnovakha region and several guys from our Belarusian group died there. One of them ended up in a hospital in Zaporizhzhia, and my wife looked after him. And I met her when I came to visit him. Then we began a relationship. Also, she had her birthday on the same day as the fight on August 10. For several birthdays in a row, we went to Zaporizhzhia, where this guy Vital Tialezhenka is buried.
In this regard, she is my support not only spiritually, but also physically. We are fighting together.
— Vadzim, what are you personally fighting for? Your war, what is it about? What do you say as Vadzim Kabanchuk?
— I am fighting to put an end to these dictatorships, soviet elders who have sat in their chairs for 30 years and do not allow the development of the entire region, and of my country.
I am fighting for a new Belarus. I am fighting for the memory of my ancestors. The imperial authorities of Russia, then the Soviet Union, rotted them, putting them into inhuman conditions for generations. So that this simply does not happen anymore, and we finally embarked on a free path for the development of a normal European Belarus.
— How can the civilized world coexist with such a Russia, with such Russians, who for the most part support (we know this from opinion polls) the decisions of the Kremlin authorities when Ukraine, with the help of the Belarusian heroes, pushes back Russian troops?
— They must follow the same path followed by post-war Germany and Japan. They will have to go through this period. First, they, of course, will have to be disarmed. I believe that Russia will not survive this path in its current form. There, most likely, changes will occur, and centrifugal forces will increase.
They must go through the process of repentance if they will be able. If not, then they should be driven back to stone age levels so that they don't have the technology and resources to renew their military power. Because everyone understands that any peace treaty with them, if the status quo is maintained, today is a matter of several years, when they will gather strength again and come again. Ukraine or Belarus, it doesn't matter, they will come to their neighbours.
— How can we win?
— As, in fact, Ukrainians and Belarusians are able to. Gradually, step by step. It will happen. This is related to the defeat of the Russian Federation. Why has Lukashenka been in power for so many years? Because of the Russian backup. That support will disappear. They will not be able to help him, first of all, to provide military assistance. When Putin faces the question of preserving the North Caucasus, Tatarstan, Chukotka or Belarus, it is clear that their energy and strength will be focused on events inside Russia. Defeat here will cause this unrest in Russia. They are historically calling it the "troubled times".
We will have a window of opportunity when this turbulent time begins. They will stay out of our lives. The Lukashenka regime will be isolated. Belarusians are quite capable of dealing with the Lukashenka regime themselves, and we, of course, will help to do it. Because we will acquire the necessary experience and strength in Ukraine. We will give it kinetic acceleration.
— Long live Belarus!
— Live forever! Glory to Ukraine!