How Russia Treats Its Ukraine Veterans

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Russian volunteer Andrei Kamayev arrived in war-torn eastern Ukraine in late September 2014, bursting with patriotic bravado and convinced that he was following in the footsteps of his grandfather—a Soviet intelligence officer in World War II—by fighting against “fascists and Nazis.”

Using terms propagated by the Kremlin to describe Ukrainian government forces fighting Russia-backed separatists, the 49-year-old Kamayev admits to other motives for joining up: He also wanted to help restore the Russky Mir, or “Russian World,” and stave off the perceived encroachment of NATO.

But his dream of military glory came to a quick and devastating end on February 1, 2015. As Kamayev followed a convoy of tanks during an assault near the strategic town of Debaltseve—then Ukrainian-controlled—a mortar shell exploded