June 2, 2023
Sniper group leader with callsign "Moscow" at "loaves".

The commander of the sniper group with the call sign “Moscow” at the “loaf”.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN


The unity of the army and the people turned out to be not an ephemeral concept, but quite tangible, you can touch it with your hands. In this story, it materialized in the form of a car with the popular name “loaf”. And her appearance on the line of contact in a good way shocked all those involved.

In March, I learned that my sniper friends were being transferred from the fire-breathing Marinka near Donetsk to the then relatively quiet “Steppe Front” in the Zaporozhye region. The guys fought under the city for 8 months. From the “troika”, with which I worked on the captured Ukrainian positions in August, “Astrakhan” received a severe leg injury, “Enot” died …

It was assumed that Zaporozhye would be calmer for at least some time, but the most important problem immediately emerged – transport. Fields, huge ends, waist-deep dirt and no asphalt. The path from the location to the positions is 30 kilometers. The straight line is shorter, but there everything is mined in three layers. In the same Marinka, we reached the positions in an hour on foot … The fighters had personal accelerating “Zhigulyats”, but they were not suitable for the spring thaw. This full-time “armored capsule” of the unit could hardly drag itself and was frankly afraid of off-road.


I reassured the commander of the sniper group with the call sign “Moskva”, they say, in a week we will assemble a car that is more passable, even if it is used, don’t worry. We needed “only” 300 thousand. Metropolitan car repairmen promised to put the car in order for free. I wrote a post in my telegram channel, screwed on the card number of my wife “Moskva” and we began to wait. After 20 minutes, Nastya calls, in shock:

– Dima, I left the phone in the kitchen, went for bread, I’m coming back – it’s hot! We have already collected 250 thousand! What are our people! Beautiful! I sit, read the messages under the transfers, cry … The biggest one is 20 thousand, it says “Lannisters always pay their debts! Sergei Bogatyrev. What does it mean?

"Moscow"sniper team leader.

“Moskva”, the commander of the sniper group.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

I explained. In April last year, near Mariupol, in the newly liberated village of Zarya, I found a relative of Sergei Bogatyrev, a Rostov humanitarian volunteer, and handed him the verbally punished: “My brother is alive, he left Mariupol, now he is being filtered in Novoazovsk.” Hearing this, an elderly man hung on me and sobbed … I remembered this scene for the rest of my life. And Seryoga remembered, gave the “mental” debt. And they gave everything they could. Who is a hundred rubles, who is five thousand. We assembled a car for snipers in 3 hours and still have left for tires, spare parts and anti-fragmentation armor. In return, I promised the donors from the “Brotherhood” Loaf “(as I dubbed it) to visit the car at the front. Promises must be kept.


What is the importance of people’s humanitarian supplies for the fighters can be understood by an indirect, but very important sign: this is a reaction at numerous checkpoints in the special operation zone. You just tell the fighters: “I’m taking humanitarian aid to such and such a unit.” And they wave their hands at you: “Drive!”. Only near Tokmok, the only time, a fighter asked me to open the trunk of the car. Everything there was filled to the brim with packages with camouflage nets and camouflage bags. What was not there in these bags, from the copter on duty – to bring the device to the line of contact – is already a rule of good form, to tool kits and painkillers. The best drug at the moment, judging by the feedback from the combatants.

The fighter felt uncomfortable and apologetically remarked:

– Here one rushes, says: “Skip it soon, I’m a volunteer!”. And the car is loaded with diapers. And why does a fighter at the front need a diaper?

We neighed, and I drove on to an inconspicuous southern Russian village where my wards were based.


“Moskva” sent a team of fighters to harvest logs for dugouts – the guys continue to dig in, already on their own, on their own initiative. More precisely, at the initiative of commanders. Although everywhere, as far as the eye can see, lines of defense have already been built industrially in almost dozens of layers. With sheathed and covered trenches, pillboxes and dugouts. And the lines of concrete gouges that go beyond the horizon, as expected, are welded together with reinforcement and covered with anti-tank ditches.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN

While I was hurriedly sipping soup, in which there was more stew than water, a neighbor, a middle-aged uncle, came in and brought a treat – a package of the first spring umbrella mushrooms. In neighboring gardens, women were talking over the fence, switching from Russian to MOV and back. Sometimes, starting sentences in Ukrainian and ending in Russian…


We visited the “loaf”. The car was hung on logs, with a flat muzzle to the sky and was a clear illustration of the old jeeper saying: “God created our world for six days, and the “loaf” immediately turned out well.” The previous owner of the car decided to finish it for God and put a German diesel engine into the “loaf”. As in the middle of the last century, German technology could not withstand contact with Russian combat reality. A connecting rod was sticking out of the removed engine, as the drivers say – “the engine showed the hand of a friend.” A new, native UAZ engine has already been brought from Rostov and in the coming days it will be delivered and everything will be done as it was, in Russian, that is, well. The snipers in the company found intelligent auto repairmen.

First trips for combat "loaves" ended in failure "surrendered" German diesel engine  In the coming days, a new engine will be installed on the UAZ.

The first trips for the combat “loaf” ended in a breakdown – the German diesel engine “surrendered”. In the coming days, a new engine will be installed on the UAZ.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN


The fields dried up right before our eyes. “Moscow” noticed that a few days ago, we would not have simply called into these positions. We sat under a bush and a sniper scanned the front line with mighty binoculars. Nominally, we were in the second line of defense, but right in front of my eyes, at a distance of 3-4 kilometers, wrecked Ukrainian trucks and three infantry fighting vehicles were scattered across the fields. Traces of an unsuccessful attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine three weeks ago. The burnt iron has not yet begun to rust properly. According to “Moscow”, ours competently worked out from ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles. – Ed.), And the artillery did not disappoint. But the fact remains – the Armed Forces of Ukraine are testing our positions for strength, poking along the line of contact, looking for weaknesses and unstable units.

I asked a question that torments everyone – “will there be a counteroffensive?” “Moscow” nodded in the affirmative:

– Of course, otherwise why did they give them so much equipment. They caught up with people on the line of contact, and it is impossible to keep them in the rear without action for a long time.

Are they shooting at you?

– I will assume that they have a shortage of ammunition. Or save. The shelling is short, more like “fire raids”. They are hitting aimlessly, trying to find some places where our equipment and personnel can stand. Reconnaissance in force is carried out – you yourself saw the result. The last time we went without equipment, just manpower. Recaptured.

– I hear, our artillery works? Is that also a disturbing fire?

– No, we have aerial reconnaissance and not only, they hit on some specific targets.

– What about the enemy?

– We have anti-drone guns in the troops. There was a story here, the scouts landed five enemy drones in one day. This is to the question that mobile electronic warfare (electronic warfare. – Ed.) In general, should be in every unit.


We made our way back to the car and I stumbled over a steel stretch, a mast stood a little further, on it was some kind of device with optics. I could hear how the servos were working, turning the bulging glass eye left and right. A cable went underground from the mast. Some work was going on in the disguised dugout – male voices were animatedly discussing something and pouring numbers.

– What is this?

It seemed to me that Moscow proudly remarked:

– All-weather reconnaissance complex TOD with a thermal imager *. By the way, our production. We talked a lot about the need for a bunch, the so-called “reconnaissance-strike complex”, and so it works.

Mast with optics of the reconnaissance complex.

Mast with optics of the reconnaissance complex.

Photo: Dmitry STESHIN


We were not allowed to leave the second line immediately. We had just begun to roll up the camouflage net, which I used to cover my car, when enemy mines whistled overhead. They fell into the rear village, we passed through it an hour ago. Yellowish smoke from explosions was clearly visible even without optics. “Moscow” affirmatively noted:

– We’re not in a hurry, are we? Let’s smoke. Let the dill shoot off.

But still, I had to hurry. On the way back, an enemy reconnaissance drone was attached behind our car. It was “Moskva” who noticed him, because I was taxiing and chatting, and, as it turned out, he did not just lower the window, but controlled the sky and everything that was happening around.

You can break away from the drone if you notice it in time. Most likely, it was a spotter who controlled the fire raid on the village. And according to “Moskva”, the drone operator mistook my car for a commander’s car – it was too clean and uncharacteristic for a special operation zone. The first parameter, cleanliness, I corrected in the very first large puddle. The puddle was already drying up along the edges, and I thought that it was from it that the term of the Ukrainian “counterattack” could be determined. However, ours on the line of contact now have more reliable and accurate methods and instruments. The era of “fortune telling through puddles” is inexorably coming to an end.

*TPM-1 TOD (all-weather/retractable complex with a thermal imaging channel). The complex sees a figure of a person for 4-5 kilometers, a tank in a lateral projection from 8 to 15 kilometers.


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