On June 30th, 80 Ukrainian soldiers from Kharkiv were deployed to Ukraine’s troubled eastern region to reinforce the southern fringes of Mariupol.
With half a million residents and a strategic importance as sea port in the very south of war-torn Donetsk region, Mariupol has been in the headlines quite a few times within the past year. It had gained the status of a staunchly Ukrainian city which is willing and able to be part of an effective defense strategy. Interviewed by TV channel TSN, battalion commander Oleh Shyriaev said: ‘We are realists. A troop of 80 men can’t secure a long-term advantage over the enemy. But it is able to give significant support to our comrades who we are about to join’.
Families, volunteers and other citizens of Kharkiv said an emotional goodbye to the Eastern Corps, giving the soldiers keepsakes and banners to take with. TSN.ua reports on the fighters as hardened men of combat who have received the physical and psychological training, as well as the technical means and supplies, that are necessary for a fully-functional, battle-ready unit.
The Eastern Corps is a patriotic movement started in Kharkiv in 2014. According to the organization’s vk.com page, they aim to follow the traditions of the Ukrainian Cossacks in upholding the integrity and traditional values of Ukraine. Like other volunteer battalions, the soldiers from the Eastern Corps are formally subordinated to the Internal Ministry of Ukraine.