Russians Celebrate The Motherland!

Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#133, February 28, 2002

The quiet of the barracks at Ugljevik was broken as the Peacekeeping Russian Separate Airborne Brigade (PRSAB) celebrated the founding of the modern Russian Army Feb. 23. The event included a formal parade and a dramatic display of fighting skills.

Ugljevik- members of the PRSAB reconnaissance (recce) platoon stormed onto the parade ground under cover of loud and smoky detonations. They quickly closed in on the 'enemy' (played by Russian soldiers) and 'killed' them with machine gun fire and hand to hand combat. This was the opening of a display of their martial skills and endurance. It continued with demonstrations of unarmed fighting, bayonet fighting and feats of pain tolerance - members of the platoon stood unflinching as bottles, staves and stone blocks were broken over their bodies.

Mother Russia
All of this was to celebrate the Day of the Defender of the Homeland, which is commemorated all over the world by Russian forces. This pays tribute to the founding of the modern Russian army and those that have fought for the motherland.
"From birth we impart the legends of our ancestors gloriously defending Mother Russia. It's hard to find another country in the world, which has been exposed so may times to attack by foreign armies and invasions lasting for centuries," said the commanding officer of PRSAB.
The day is also significant to the individual soldiers who expressed similar sentiments.

"This day is important for all of us (Russian soldiers), it is the day of the Soviet Army, such days make us feel like soldiers of that army. It reinforces our sense of duty for the motherland," said Russian Sgt Ruslan Shapiylaev, a member of the recce platoon.
The Russian soldiers' train at hand to hand combat three times a week, and also exercise regularly in order that they are well prepared for any mission. For the display, they practised for two weeks under the watchful eye of their platoon sergeant.

Ordinary people
Despite their fierce appearance the soldiers are quick to point out that they are not supermen.
"We are just ordinary people. In our spare time we like to do sports, visit places, listen to music, watch TV and videos and read books," said Shapiylaev.

Nowadays, however, the PRSAB serves its motherland by working as part of SFOR. The Russians carry out a variety of tasks within Multi-National Division North such as framework and presence patrols, some Civilian and Military Co-operation (CIMIC) activities as well as providing security for CIMIC houses and Non-Governmental Organisations. For Chief Sgt. Alexander Yomanov Viktorovich, platoon sergeant of the recce platoon, and a veteran of many conflicts, this service is a continuation of the ideals of the army.
"The Russian Army has always created an opportunity for the civilian population to work in peace and undisturbed…the fact that it is a multinational force here, makes it clear that this is not an aggressive mission, but one of peacekeeping," said Viktorovich.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Russia

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Photos: PO Andy Gedge

The Russian Recce Platoon displays the sprit of the bayonet: kill, kill, kill!

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A Russian soldier takes the pain, as a stout piece of wood is smashed against his stomach.

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With speed and precision a Russian soldier uses his bare fists to smash through bricks.

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Members of the Recce Platoon display another tool of their trade - the bayonet.

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Russian troops prove that you can go higher with teamwork.

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Showing no fear a Russian soldier takes part in the capture of a moving vehicle.

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A Russian soldier ignores the pain and blood, caused by having a bottle smashed over his head.