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Lt. Eugene Gromadskyi

December 22, 2022 – This is a war where Ukrainian fathers and sons serve on the same frontlines. And this was how it was for 22-year-old Eugene Gromadskyi – at least at the very beginning. On the first day of the invasion, he stood shoulder to shoulder with his father Oleg on the outskirts of Kharkiv, as column after column of Russian men and armored vehicles sought to capture their city.

In those crucial first hours he was in command of a unit, which, outnumbered and outgunned, attacked and destroyed Russian vehicle columns and captured prisoners. For this, Eugene would earn the country’s highest military honor. His father would face a different fate.

Eugene has been in the thick of it for almost the entire war. He started out as a lieutenant in the National Guard, now he’s a senior lieutenant in the army’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade, which is named after Ivan Sirko, a 17th Century Cossack military leader.

The intelligence platoon Eugene commands describe themselves as Sirko’s Rowdy Boys – their motto is “Revenge for all.” “They are my family,” he tells me. It is a December morning in Kupyiansk, some 120km (75 miles) south-east of Kharkiv, and the temperature is -7C, even before the howling wind hits you and finds its way into every inch of loose clothing or exposed skin. It is mostly open ground.

There is no cover from the wind, nor from the Russians who in places are within rifle range. Lines of trees, which in the summer provided camouflage, are now stark and bare. There is nowhere to hide. But Eugene glows with vitality. He explains that the early days of the war were frustrating. Ukrainian forces took back a village or two, there was little momentum. They were on the defensive and under-prepared, then a summer stalemate set in.

But in September, a coordinated counter-offensive began, starting from Balakliya and going all the way down to Kupyiansk. Ukraine’s growing military confidence, and Eugene’s are inseparable. I first met him in early March. He had recently graduated from university and was full of courage but fresh to conflict and on the defensive.

What he didn’t tell me at the time was how he and his comrades under his command had captured Russian prisoners. His bravery is a matter for record. He was later awarded the country’s top military honor, Hero of Ukraine, Order of the Gold Star. Eugene has countless missions under his belt, and like the landscape around him, bears the scarred lessons of conflict.

“The Russians are preparing some 200,000 fresh troops. I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv.”
— Valerii Fedorovych Zaluzhnyi,  Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Valerii Fedorovych Zaluzhnyi (Ukrainian: Вале́рій Фе́дорович Залу́жний), born July 8, 1973, is a Ukrainian four-star general who has served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since July 27, 2021. He is also concurrently a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

Zaluzhnyi was the Commander of the North Operational Command (2019–2021), Chief of the Joint Operational Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine — First Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces (2018), Chief of Staff – First Deputy Commander of the West Operational Command (2017), Commander of the 51st Guards Mechanized Brigade (2009–2012).

Zaluzhnyi was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022. He has received praise for his skill at “adapting to a fast-changing battlefield” through effective delegation and information gathering during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi has issued a clear warning about a fresh Russian offensive. He said that a new Russian offensive could take place in a timeframe between January and March.

He added that the recent attacks on Kyiv’s power infrastructure are a part of Russia’s delaying action to regroup. The top general speculates that Russia could launch its next offensive from Donbas, from the south or neighboring Belarus. He also said that the Russians are keeping Ukrainian troops busy in a bid to constrain them.


December 16, 2022 – Ukrainian authorities say Russia has launched another major missile attack on energy facilities and infrastructure. Local authorities in the capital Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv reported explosions.

The latest strikes come as Ukrainian military and civilian leaders warn that the Kremlin is preparing for a new widescale offensive as early as January. It’s been reported that the US is preparing to send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine. Russian officials say that arming Ukraine with Patriot missiles would be regarded as an escalation and would have consequences.

December 21, 2022 – Former Trump Administration National Security Council Russia expert, Fiona Hill, says Vladimir Putin is as determined as ever to conquer Ukraine on his own terms and that he may see reports of Russia’s battlefield losses only as Western propaganda and disinformation. Hill told DW’s Sarah Kelly that Putin had not changed his goals of defeating Ukraine and that another ground offensive, including against the capital Kyiv is possible—even if Russian casualties continue to mount.

The former top White House expert on Russia said that Putin has still “got his sights on the capitulation of Ukraine, one way or another … if he thinks having another go at Kyiv would be successful, then he will certainly try that.” Hill, who testified during Donald Trump’s first impeachment on withheld US military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, spoke to DW’s Sarah Kelly from Washington for Conflict Zone.

00:00 Intro
00:54 Fiona Hill Welcome
01:35 First attempt on Kyiv & threat to Zelenskyy
01:55 Putin has his sights on capitulation of Ukraine
02:14 Belarus visit with Lukashenko
02:53 Is Putin losing the war?
04:00 Putin willing to sacrifice 300,000 Russian troops
04:40 Can Russia accept loss of Crimea?
05:00 Are Ukrainian “de-occupation” goals realistic?
05:45 Russia’s claims on Ukrainian territory
06:35 US & UK responsibility to Ukraine after nuclear disarmament
07:05 Will Russian people accept a claim of victory?
08:30 Kazakhstan, Armenia, Moldova reassessing Moscow
09:30 Putin’s grip on power and infallibility
10:50 Support from China, India, South Africa
11:40 Don’t count Putin out, but ….
12:05 End of Cold War & Putin’s shifting aim
12:25 2007 Munich Security Conference
12:45 2008 Bucharest NATO summit
13:10 Ukraine doesn’t exist in Putin’s version of history
14:20 Frank-Walter Steinmeier & German trade with Russia
15:10 2014 Annexation of Crimea, World War Two & United Nations General Assembly
16:05 Vladimir Putin has declared war on the West
17:20 EU, NATO, US, Japan, South Korea & annexations
17:40 Poland, Baltic states, Scandinavia, UK understanding of Russia
18:00 US support for Ukraine as 2024 election looms
19:40 Donald Trump’s first impeachment
20:15 January 6th Committee, Trump, & Hunter Biden
21:19 Russian propaganda is gaining traction
21:45 Czar Vladimir and Russia’s Manifest Destiny
22:03 Crimea’s first annexation in 1783
23:20 Don’t give Putin what he wants
23:40 Collapse of Soviet Union
24:05 Putin has turned back clock to the Stalinist 1950s
25:25 Inflection point in European & world history