Company commander of 47th Mechanized Brigade speaks about the unit and combat in the south.
Mykola Melnyk is an officer of Ukrainian Armed Forces, owner of Bohdan Khmelnytsky Order. In 2022, he joined 47th Mechanized Brigade (back then a battalion) and became company commander. He recently gave an interview to Ukrainian Front 18 channel, where he speaks about the brigade and the offensive in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
About formation of the brigade
We tried to rely on highly motivated people. We started as an intelligence battalion, then expanded to an assault regiment and later to a mechanized brigade. We learned how to storm enemy buildings, then they gave us MaxxPro MRAPs, and we had to start from scratch as mechanized units. Then, they took everything away from us, gave us M2 Bradleys and send us abroad. The preparation was too long, many guys burned out. It was hard to understand that while others are fighting, we continued to train and prepare.
About training on Bradleys
It was a completely different approach. In Ukraine, they show you BMP, but you cannot touch anything because it might fall apart. Here, we drove a dozen of kilometers, did live fire exercises and everything was explained to us.
It later became clear we are part of the counter-offensive, and our training was adjusted to that. US soldiers played Russians, it was great experience, and I was proud of my guys. We talked, bothered our instructors till late night. We wanted to know everything, be ready for anything. I sadly cannot say this about some other companies in the brigade.
About the preparations of offensive
We were deployed to Zaporizhzhia Oblast in mid-May 2023, our Corps was already planning the offensive at that time. They nicknamed all key positions after football teams. There was Benfica, Real, Shakhtar, Dynamo and so on. We knew what awaits us, and practiced every night. Although we were one of the better equipped brigade of Ukrainian Army, we still didn’t have enough night vision devices and had to rely on fundraisers.
About the offensive
The whole plan of our big counter-offensive was based on a simple thing – Russians see Bradleys, Leopards and they run away. They didn’t, they were well-prepared for us.
We were supposed to follow 3rd battalion, but due to failures in planning, we were three hours late and couldn’t help them. We managed to capture Russian positions on June 9, 2023, and repelled all attacks. My unit accomplished the task with minimal casualties. Other companies were not so lucky.
Robotyne was our objective for the first day, and you know how it went. The enemy knew our routes of advance, all their artillery were zeroed on us. It was a chaos. Some of our companies were finished in 15 minutes, some in 30. Other brigades demonstrated sad records. Another example of chaos – I got a tank under my command to support us with storming enemy positions. The tank was reassigned to a different unit shortly prior to our assault, and we got guys I never saw before. They were clearly not happy to be here, and had no idea what’s going on.
There were cases when we requested artillery support to suppress enemy positions, but were denied because of M109 Paladin’s expensive shells. People died because of this. We also found out that our tankers never fired from Leopards before. They trained on T-72s the whole time and were sent to the south with different tanks.
Mykola Melnyk was seriously wounded during one of the assaults during the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. A Russian large-caliber gun hit him when he was trying to navigate a Bradley through a minefield and lost his leg. During an attempt to get to the nearest Ukrainian positions, he stepped on anti-personnel mine and fell on another one. Mykola is now slowly recovering, and just recently was able to stand up.
Interview with Mykola Melnyk was published on Ukrainian channel Front 18. We provide a short summary of the interview in English. You can watch the full interview on their YouTube channel, or read it on Ukrainian censor.net.