The situation in Ridkodub and circumstances of the tanks destruction were described to Censor.NET by Konstantynov himself.
Oleksandr Konstantynov, senior lieutenant, commander of a tank company of the 17th tank brigade. His crew destroyed two enemy's tanks in the Ridkodub battle on Feb. 1.
"I arrived to Ridkodub in late January. 'Stanislav' strongpoint was located there. The strongpoint was commanded by Maksym - unfortunately, I do not know his last name. Six our tanks were redeployed at the stronghold. However, two of them had been hit earlier. Out of the remaining four, only one was operating. Other could not even move - engines and batteries had to be repaired, but no one was repairing the tanks. My company had been deconcentrated to different strongholds and here at 'Stanislav' there were tankmen and tanks from another unit.
"I used the only operating tank when leaving for the battle of Feb. 1. Viacheslav Parakhin was the driver mechanic. I do not remember the name of fire adjuster - he left for the engagement right after arriving to the front and was wounded after the battle, was evacuated, and I did not remember his name.
4215 and 4214 are the numbers assigned by the Russian Lostarmour.info website to the T-64 tanks belonging to Russian mercenaries from the 7th motorized rifle brigade and destroyed near Ridkodub. These tanks were destroyed on Feb. 1 by joint efforts of Konstantynov's crew and Ukrainian infantry at the strongpoint. At the background, a destroyed Russian multi-purpose light-armored towing vehicle, hit on the second day, is seen.
"At around noon an enemy's rowing tank showed up and opened fire against us. They were trying to cover my tank - the nearest burst was 10 meters from us. We changed location immediately and hid behind our previously hit tank. From there I could see how the enemy's T-64 tank showed up from behind a hill and was shooting from about 1,000 meters. Maksym started to adjust fire to hit the tank. The tank was targeting our positions.
"I gave an order and we jumped out of the cover. The first shot misses, but the second hits the target exactly. An explosion followed, covering the tank with flames, detonating it.
"Then another tank appeared. It also acted very bold. It was approaching us closer; maybe it wanted to evacuate the crew of the first hit tank. The infantry opened fire, and the tank was hit with an SPG shot. It stopped not far from the first tank but survived. We used this opportunity and hit the second tank precisely. The same story - the tank catches fire and explodes.
"Unfortunately, the enemy tanks hit one of our covers and wounded tankmen who did not have operating tanks.
"After the engagement, the enemy did not attempt any more open assaults. But the shelling continued. Several days after, units of Russian mercenaries penetrated our rear and invaded the very Ridkodub village. Our strongpoint found itself enveloped. There was no continuous front line; we were not in force, so the enemy had managed to do that.
"We found ourselves cut off. No reserves were arriving. In order to get out, we had to work the way out on our own. In order to do so, we had to mop up Ridkodub village.
"On Feb. 6 we launched our assault.
"There was no fire adjuster, so I took his place. My commander's spot was taken by my friend, company executive officer, Senior Lieutenant Oleksii Vakulchak.
Oleksii Vakulchak, senior lieutenant of the 17th tank brigade. Aged 44. Killed in Ridkodub engagement. Worked the way out for Ukrainian encircled units at the 'Stanislav' stronghold.
"We were advancing in front of the infantry, hitting houses where the enemy had been hiding. The infantry was following. Soon, the road was unblocked, and major part of Ridkodub was liberated.
"But that moment, our tank was hit with a missile. An explosion followed. Oleksii was at my spot - and that's exactly where the missile hit…
"I was carrying his body out of the tank… I had been also gravely wounded. We had worked the way out. The first to take the road were me and my friend Oleksii's body. When I remember Vakulchak, tears appear in my eyes. He was a marvelous person, a great officer, who did his best to give an eye to every soldier. He was fearlessly heading to battles…"
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET
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