At his 100-acre farm on the outskirts of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third-largest city, Alexey Chaban looked rested. He’d just spent three months back home following a half-year of fighting.
The 50-year-old father of four is a first lieutenant with the Ukrainian army’s 17th Tank Brigade. He became well known after he published an open letter on Facebook directed to the mother of a captured pro-Russian soldier he and his tank crew let go after a battle.
He’s what many people here call “the typical Ukrainian hero,” since most Ukrainians fighting are middle-aged construction workers, former soldiers and farmers, like himself. During a wide-ranging interview, Chaban shared his thoughts on the pro-Russian rebels and their tactics, his experiences on the front line and the army’s drinking problem.
He also spoke bluntly about why he loathes Ukraine’s military commanders, the Minsk agreements and why the war still rages. His answer — because Russia wants it to.