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Saturday, 12 April 2014

image for One Ukranian soldier armed with a shovel continues to guard barracks in Crimea
Ihor and his shovel, something he says he can use with devastating effect

Most of the Ukranian forces have pulled out of Crimea but one man remains, determined to hold his ground.

First Sergeant Ihor Rodchenko is the exception. Stationed a few miles out of the provincial capital, he defiantly maintains his post.

The small base consists of a single two story office building, a mess and accommodation quarters that now seem like a ghost town.

Rodchenko's commanding officer gave the order to clear out weeks ago following a directive issued from Kiev. The departing troops burnt all documentation and smashed all the furniture in an effort to deem the base useless to their Russian Opposition. The only thing that remained untouched was Ihor's bed and a single chair that he proudly sits upon.

"There were eighty five of us and a dozen armored vehicles here. I refused to leave," admits Rodchenko with a certain steeliness evident in his eyes. "My commanding officer always thought of me as a trouble maker so he just sighed and told me I could stay here," explained Ihor as he took a drag on his cigarette.

"The bastard took my rifle and bayonet though, he said it was Ukranian military property. He was going to take my uniform to but said he couldn't leave me naked."

Ihor sits on his chair, in the sentry box, at the gate to the compound, defiantly wearing his uniform and holding a shovel. It was the only weapon he could find after the withdrawing soldiers took everything else. Luckily for Ihor, the sentry box has a slit that he can see out of but also means that others can not easily see in.

Ihor has discovered that stealth is his best option when it comes to dealing with the enemy. "I have seen pro russian militia and even a few soldiers walk past but they didn't even pay me or this little base any attention. The only downside is I cannot fly the flag, it takes pride and place in the interior of the sentry box."

The soldier spends his time on sentry duty or tidying up the base. Having a shovel also means he has become pretty handy at gardening.
He also has a small battery operated DVD player that he watches nightly.

"I only have Rocky 2, 3 and 4 on the DVD player," he told us, "I haven't even seen Rocky 1. I do enjoy the Stallone series but it would be so good to watch something else. It gets incredibly boring around here."

Locals loyal to Ukraine bring the man fresh bread and hot soup to eat daily. They seem pleased that not all their military has left them but they know the soldier is limited in what he can achieve.

Still, Ihor remains hopelessly optimistic.

"I want my countrymen to come back, I can't win this war on my own, not with just a shovel anyway. I am incredibly resilient and some would argue mad but I need more help. It is my hope that NATO gets involved and Putin sees sense."

The reality though is that this does not look like happening anytime soon. Still, Ihor is not totally alone he informed us. "My brother Andriy is out there in the hills somewhere. He also refused to leave with our commanding officer but left the base on horseback to seek reinforcements. He hasn't come back since then but I would like to think that the cavalry is still out there somewhere."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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