Tank drivers at Northern Fleet's tankodrome in Luostari honour killed comrades
The region that has hundreds of monuments honouring Soviet soldiers fighting Nazi German troops during the 2WW is building new war memorials. The new ones are devoted to the men that have fallen in Russia’s aggressive onslaught on Ukraine.
Few months after a monument opened in Titovka, representatives of the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade in Pechenga unveil a memorial in Lower Loustari, the military settlement that houses the Northern Fleet’s main tank-driving training range. Until the late 1980s, Luostari also housed the Soviet Union’s nearest airfield to NATO territory.
The new monument is located next to the entrance of the training range and includes a bronze statue of a tank driver. Two memorial plates show war symbols “Z,” “V” and “O” and the names of ten tank drivers killed in battle. Among them is Dmitry Kuznetsov, reportedly the first tankist from the brigade killed in Ukraine. The 25 year old man from the far eastern region of Amur had been based in Pechenga since 2018 and served as deputy commander of a tank unit. He was killed outside Kharkiv on the 2nd March 2022.
Among the other men honoured is 23 year old Nikolai Danilchenko, who was port mortem awarded the Hero of Russia-medal by Vladimir Putin for “heroic actions in Ukraine.”
Another five of the men depicted on the memorial plate had their background from the north Russian regions of Arkhangelsk and Komi.
Among them Artyem Bryushinin from Kargopol, who was a war veteran with fighting experience from Syria, and Artur Zhigalov from the town of Kotlas, who worked as a chef before he in 2015 decided to join the Army.
The ceremony in Luostary was attended by relatives and friends of the killed men. A unit of the local Youth Army (Yunarmiya) paraded along with soldiers from the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade. On site was also regional Deputy Governor Vladimir Yevmenkov and Lieutenant-colonel Nikolai Urozhenko, Commander of the brigade’s tank battalion.
Meanwhile, a soldier from the local brigade performed a patriotic song about war and victory. “God, give us force. We will win, behind us are borders, this is a battle for life,” the voice and the playback scattered across the desolate Arctic landscape of Luostari.
In the background waved the black flag of the tank battalion. “Our armour is strong and our tanks speedy,” the text on the flag reads.
However, irrespectively of the strength and speed of the brigade’s armoured equipment, losses have been massive. The 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade in Pechenga is believed to have lost many hundred men and most of its heavy equipment.
The brigade used to be one of the most potent forces in the Russian North. At its disposal it had several thousand men and loads of heavy weapons, including several hundred tanks and howitzers. More than 40 T-80 tanks were regularly training in the area ahead of their deployment in Ukraine.
Little is left. According to an intelligence report from Norway, the land forces in the Kola Peninsula are today reduced to one-fifth of their pre-war capacity.
More than 1,500 troops are killed, and up to 100 tanks and armoured vehicles lost.
According to the report, about three battalion groups with a total of 3,000 soldiers were sent to the battlefields. Less than one year later, half of the men had been killed.
Local men continue to fight in the aggressive war. And they are doing a great job, according to Lieutenant-colonel Nikolai Urozhenko.
“Our soldiers that at this moment take part in the military actions display bravery, heroism, professionalism and willpower for victory, something that can be illustrated by the big number of soldiers given state awards,” he said during this week’s official opening of the memorial.
“Unfortunately, losses are unavoidable, but all the soldiers killed die as heroes and real defenders of the Motherland and will forever be in our memory,” the military leader underlined.