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The Basement Diaries 28

[b]Kyiv - 21 January 2023[/b]

The early hours of Saturday... looking back on Friday.

And so, my last day in the bunker is done. It was painless, as I expected, well managed. Without surprise.

I arrived, as has been the norm these last few days, around 07:00. Met Andriy for coffee in the mess, continued our meeting in my office, now his office, and then with the team. Everything set for the day.

At 10:00, my CO holds his daily team leader meeting. There is much anticipation of, hope for, good news from the Ramstein conference. Talk of how to handle the story. At the end, he says a few nice words about me, wishes me well for future. Then he dismisses the meeting.

I ask his permission to leave the bunker for two hours. I need to visit my bank to deposit some valuable items and papers before I start my training programme. He is quite relaxed about this, says it is ok.

Outside the bunker, I phone my bank manager, tell him what I want and why. I say I will see him in thirty minutes. It is somehow comforting that the family name still gets things done.

When I arrive at the bank, the manager has already opened a larger deposit box for me. I transfer the contents of my old box, my share certificates for the family holding company, a copy of my Grandmama's will, the ownership documents for my car, the leasing agreement for my apartment. Then I add my degree certificates, my army enlistment contract "til death us do part", my passport, my PPL and log book (so out of date I almost cry), some other personal papers, and my jewellery.

I don't think there is a deposit box large enough for my collection of Converse High Tops. Or CDs.

I lock away my new box, sign the necessary papers with the manager and make it back to the bunker before lunchtime. News is already filtering through from Ramstein that we have not made the progress we were hoping for. No commitment to supplying tanks from USA or Germany. Our ability to counterattack the invader and retake our territory is significantly constrained.

This is very disappointing. It seems too many western leaders want us to win this war without defeating Russia. For them, our victory is defined by how little of our land we must give away. For us, victory will come only when we have regained all of our sovereign territory. So there is a feeling of betrayal.

I make a tour of the bunker to say goodbye to the people I have worked with. In the mess, I present the Sergeant in charge with a very official looking certificate I had printed and framed, recognising him and his team as producers of the worst coffee in the Ukrainian army. It now hangs proudly on the wall in the mess.

The afternoon dragged a little. I wanted to get away and the mood among the personnel was downbeat. General Milley, Chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted as saying it would be difficult to expel Russia from all of Ukraine this year and that he expected the war to end in negotiation. That can mean only one thing. So, another voice, from our own allies, telling us to accept defeat.

At 18:00, I reported to my CO and finally signed off his staff. He formally signed me over to my new command. I stood to attention, saluted and left his office.

I checked my office, now officially not mine, for anything I might have overlooked. Nothing. So I told Andriy I was officially off strength, he should report to the CO as team leader. I said a last goodbye to him, went for a last bunker shower. Walked out for the last time at just after 19:35.

It is not so cold. Not pleasant but not biting. My walk home to the basement feels strange. Another last time in a day of too many last times. I do not, in any way, look forward to our farewell party. It is not a time for parties.

What will the news from Ramstein mean for my new role? Can it even happen? And where else might I be deployed? Everything is now in the air, no certainties except that our task has just become much harder, our survival more unlikely. No, not just our victory, our survival.

But we have no choice. We are the only ones who cannot walk away from this fight. Our allies can close their eyes, turn their heads, their backs. Those who ignore our predicament can continue to do so. Even the Russians can decide to go home. We are the only ones with nowhere else to go. Nowhere else to live or die.

The basement is warm and welcoming, even though I do not feel like being welcomed. I try not to be too gloomy. It is Friday night and the others want to relax at the end of a week. They work hard, they should be able to do so.

I make coffee. I make idle chatter. I change, not so many layers now thanks to the wood burner. We all look a little more civilised. There is food. I am not hungry but I eat. I am not happy but I smile. I send Serhii up to my apartment to retrieve some CDs with David Crosby - I have albums of him performing with Graham Nash, with Nash and Stephen Stills. And with Nash, Stills and Neil Young. There is a certain melancholy to a lot of their music, I find. So it suits my mood and it suits his death.

So the evening goes. Eventually, I retreat to my cell to write this. A bad night... I can't say more.
KiwiBird31-35, F
A diary entry....almost in two parts.

Your last day went relatively smoothly, heroic shit coffee, hand-over, goodbyes and final salute. I loved your shit coffee certificate presentation. Valuables secured and CD's and High-Tops to take there chances.

Then Ramstein. Germany waiting for the US to provide Abrams first before they send Leopards. Procrastination Bull Shit. Germany also will not allow Leopards from Poland or Finland to be sent either as they need a license to be exported to a third party. FFS American industry (MIC) is making billions out of this war....stimulating the US economy. Almost as if they want to draw the conflict out over years. Send the fucking tanks.

Two days left in the Basement before your posting.

72andy46-50, M
I hope you have a good couple of days
I hope we provide more tanks soon
sarabee199526-30, F
I'm sorry the news from Ramstein wasn't better. I wish I could wave a magic wand and reverse those decisions.

My leadership claims the Abrams tank is too much for you to handle. Requires jet fuel rather than the diesel that the Leopard runs on. Can we not provide jet fuel? I don't get it. I'm sorry. 馃様
Zeusdelight61-69, M
Loved the certificate for Worst Coffee in the Ukranian Army, if it is going to be bad, do it well:)
Scribbles31-35, F

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