Many people don’t know what the Ukraine war smells and tastes like. They think it’s a projection on the cellphone display. But there is hope.
At the beginning of January, a combat video filmed with a soldier’s helmet camera appeared in patriotic Telegram groups in the Russian Federation. The soldier runs towards two armed Ukrainian soldiers in a trench in the forest.
He yells for them to surrender and tries to snatch the machine gun from one of them. He, obviously in shock, doesn’t exist. Then the soldier shoots them both. In the comments, there was overwhelming agreement: “For victory!” or “You are great, God protect you”.
At first I couldn’t understand this reaction to someone’s death. Until I realized that the vast majority of commentators saw what they saw more like some kind of computer game.
And indeed, the video is more reminiscent of a first-person attack, like in the American first-person shooter game “Call of Duty”, where the opponent is only seen as a virtual bot. The spectator does not smell the gunpowder, his adrenaline level is normal and he is not in danger. For him, the war in Ukraine is nothing more than a projection on his smartphone display, which triggers similar emotions as a football match, where there is “our” team and the opposing team and “our” team has to win.
War is not a game
The war is not real to them. You don’t know what a burned corpse smells like, you’ve never seen a torn body. On Russian television, they are told about impending victory, about high-precision weapons that know how to spot civilians.
And people believe that. Just like they believe in them “Denazification of Ukraine” and the “Defense of Donbass” believe. For them, even public reprisals against “traitors” in the form of hammer blows on the head are normal.
Hope is only given to those who understand what is happening and try to make the loud majority understand that war is not a game and that people die in the process – on both sides, by the way
I saw something like this many years ago. I saw corpses, lots of corpses. I’ve seen mothers searching for their children between black plastic bags, trying to identify them by the fillings in their teeth. I’ve seen coffins in the streets and fathers crying over the bodies of their sons. That was in the North Ossetian city of Beslan after Terrorist attack in 2004when terrorists took over a school and 333 people died, including 186 children.
Game over, but for real
Now something like this is happening in Ukraine. But there is no “respawn” here, no revival like in a computer game. Nobody gets up and still wins. Or start running again. No soldier to another attack, no daughter to her mother, no son to his father.
Because they’re already dead.
From Russian: Gaby Coldewey
Financed by the taz Panter Foundation. The diary is at taz.de also in Russian to find.