World

An American in Ukraine discovered the war he was looking for


Mr. Milburn wants America to go all out. In the short term, he decided to deploy on his own.

“The alternative for me was to be in the US just to read about this” and “disappointed and angry,” he said. “I know we’re not changing the course of the war, but for the people we’re helping, like the people we’re evacuating, it has a very direct impact.”

And, he quickly added, “I feel much better than I did on my last deployment in Iraq.”

Although Mr. Milburn was not involved in the actual fighting, he was constantly risking his life. On a recent day in Soledar, he and his colleagues were nearly hit by a Russian missile. Minutes later, as they were replacing a tire that had been flat due to shrapnel, a fighter jet swooped down on them, firing more rockets and sending them scattering into the bushes.

He and his men admit there’s an adrenaline component to all of this.

“You are always looking for itright?” said one of Mr. Milburn’s trainers, an American sniper named Rob. it To be.”

For Mr. Milburn and Mozart – and many in the West, for that matter – Ukraine is what it is.

On an early afternoon this summer in a riverside park outside Kyiv, Mozart staged a series of combat maneuvers. The Ukrainian recruits, many of whom had never touched a gun before, were tasked with running around the park and surrounding one of Mr Milburn’s trainers in a mock attack. Just a few yards away, ordinary residents ride scooters and push baby strollers along the park’s shady streets. It is two Ukraines – the normal lives that everyone is trying to maintain, and the war that has followed them – taking place in the same place, and at the same time, barely recognized by the other.

The rookies moved quickly and were full of enthusiasm. But they move in clusters and seem to have no plan.

“You’ve just been killed about 100 times, by your own people,” one of Mr Milburn’s trainers, a large Estonian, shouted.

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