DONETSK, January 19. /TASS/. A captured militant of the Azov nationalist battalion (outlawed in Russia), Rinat Aliev, told TASS that NATO instructors had participated in the military training of Ukraine's armed forces long before the Donbass conflict escalated.
"During military conscription, I encountered Canadian instructors who taught medicine. They taught how to provide first aid to a wounded person on the battlefield. Other groups had different courses with them, depending on their specialty. They were teaching shooting, tactics, all things military," he said.
Kharkov-born Aliev was drafted in 2018. Conscripts were trained at a testing ground in the Starichi settlement in the Lvov region. According to the POW, the NATO contingent was present at the training center on a permanent basis. Already then the servicemen were being trained to use Western weapons, including rifles. There, Aliev saw US-made Javelin missile systems for the first time, which Ukrainian troops began to widely use in Donbass in 2022.
After serving, Aliev signed a contract with Azov where he was a gunner of a BTR-4 in a separate special ops group. When Russia launched its special military operation, he was in Mariupol and participated in the defense of the city. He was captured in May during the mop-up of the Azovstal plant.
"We were surrounded at Azovstal for a month. We ran out of munitions, food, and those wounded were dying. It made no more sense to hold the line or resist. We rarely saw our commanders, everyone was sitting in different bunkers," he said.
According to him, the command and the privileged servicemen of surrounded units stayed at separate bunkers. Food was also divided accordingly. Aliev also said that a multinational group, including an Afghan contingent, participated in action in Mariupol on the Ukrainian side.
Battle for Mariupol
Mariupol is the largest city on the coast of the Sea of Azov, one of the key centers of metallurgy in Donbass and a major seaport. Fighting for Mariupol began on February 25, 2022. On April 21, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Mariupol was liberated by Russian troops and the DPR’s People’s Militia. Currently, the city is gradually returning to normal life.