"Victory in 44-day war overwhelmed us with pride, joy"
    Azerbaijani servicewoman of Ukrainian Marine Corps speaks to Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  22 May 2023 - 16:01

    Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine will soon reach its 15th month and things are now heading toward a climax called the Ukrainian army's counteroffensive.

    It will, alas, also take the lives of many Ukrainian heroes fighting on their soil, for their freedom, for their homeland. And it is important to note that there are Azerbaijanis fighting alongside Ukrainians. Their exact number is not clear, but the only thing that is known is that there are not only men in this glorious row but also women.

    One of them is an Azerbaijani woman Samira Moroz, who fights in the ranks of Ukrainian armed forces and agreed to answer questions from Caliber.az.

    - Samira, tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born?

    - My parents are from Armenia’s Basarkechar district, which was renamed Vardenis district in Soviet times. The majority of the population there used to be made out of Azerbaijanis, but the policy of their forced deportation was gradually implemented and now there is not a single Azerbaijani there.

    My family left Armenia in 1987. I was a child then and don't remember much. I only remember that from Armenia we moved to Kazakhstan, where our relatives lived and still live, and from there, after a while, our family moved to Ukraine.

    However, for a certain period, due to my grandmother's illness, we also lived in Azerbaijan. But then we came back to Ukraine again.

    - And where exactly, in what part of Ukraine?

    - In the village of Sukhaya Balka, Mykolaiv region. There I went to school. Since childhood, I helped my parents with the housework. You yourself understand that at that time no one had fashionable and time-consuming mobile phones, but there was no shortage of hard work in the countryside.

    Until the 7th grade, we lived in that village, and then our family moved to the Dnepropetrovsk region. We lived there for ten years, after which we finally moved to the city of Nikolaev.

    - How many siblings do you have?

    - Our dad worked as a driver, including for one of the local employers, and my mother worked as a milkmaid. There are four children in our family - three sisters and a brother. I am the youngest of the sisters. By the way, since childhood, I have developed and still haven’t lost a boyish character. Perhaps this is what helped at the time of the war, with all its hardships, tragedies, and horrors.

    - How did you meet your spouse, Oleksandr Moroz, who is Ukrainian?

    - We studied in the same class at school. So, the school love grew into a strong, happy family we created. We've been together for over 20 years now. Our eldest son Ruslan is 20 years old, the middle Teymur is 16, and the youngest daughter Yasmina is 4 years old.

    My husband has been serving in the Ukrainian armed forces since February 25, 2022, that is, from the second day of the full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine. And since 2014, I have been helping the Ukrainian army as a volunteer. But since the beginning of the big war, in 2022, I have also become a servicewoman. I am a signalwoman in the Marine Corps of Ukraine’s armed forces.

    - What were the first months of this terrible war like?

    - They passed under non-stop shelling from the Russian occupiers. It was very important to withstand this first enemy strike and to provide military personnel and civilians with everything necessary.

    The volunteering experience and relevant connections were very useful to me in this sense. It should be noted that now the situation with providing the army with everything necessary is much better than it was in 2014.

    I remember my shock when for the first time, as a volunteer, I saw what the Ukrainian servicemen ate then, how and with what they were provided. It took me a few days to recover from what I saw.

    That is why we spent almost all the money earned in private business on helping servicemen.

    And yet, returning then from the ATO zone [Anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine, or the war in Donbas in 2014-2018 – ed.] to peaceful at the time Nikolaev for a long time I could not forget the burnt houses I saw during the trip, children's toys lying on the floor. Personally, I then realised that a big, full-scale war with Russia could not be avoided.

    - And how are things now? Is the Ukrainian army provided with everything necessary?

    - We are very grateful to all allies of Ukraine who provide financial, humanitarian, and military assistance. Yes, in general, the situation has become much better than in 2014. But ammunition, alas, is not enough to this day.

    Until now, military personnel have been contacting me. After all, military uniforms on the front line very quickly become unusable and we have to look for ways to solve this problem. There is also a need for thermal imagers, in passenger cars for the front line. I declare with all responsibility that without the help of volunteers who close all these "holes", it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to resist the enemy even with a large amount of assistance to Ukraine from its allies.

    - Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to official data, 26 Azerbaijanis have died in the battles for its territorial integrity. Do you agree that in reality, this figure is much higher and have you ever met with Azerbaijanis in the ranks of the Ukrainian armed forces?

    - Indeed, many Azerbaijanis stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainians in this war. Moreover, these are not only citizens of Ukraine of Azerbaijani nationality. You are right that there are already many dead among them. The figure you cited, in my opinion, does not reflect the whole picture.

    After the victory of Ukraine in this war, I am sure that a more accurate analysis of the situation will be carried out and it will turn out that there are many more Azerbaijanis who gave their lives in the battles for Ukraine.

    Moreover, the war with Russia has been going on since 2014, and the statistics of the dead, including Azerbaijanis, must be kept from that time. I personally have not yet come across Azerbaijanis at the front, but I often hear from brothers that they are fighting here and there. And I am proud of each of them fighting for Ukraine.

    I bow my head before the memory of all those who gave their lives in this war imposed by Russia on us. At the same time, in Nikolaev, I always see what great assistance the Azerbaijanis provide to Ukraine. The Azerbaijani flag in Nikolaev almost everywhere hangs next to the Ukrainian one.

    - Did you follow the course of the 44-day war in Karabakh? Do you plan to visit the liberated territories of Azerbaijan after the end of the war in Ukraine?

    - I confess honestly that I simply did not have the opportunity to follow the course of the 44-day war in Karabakh in detail. You should understand that back then you had to spend almost all your time on organising assistance for our servicemen.

    But, of course, all my relatives and friends were very worried about the course of that war. We were overwhelmed with a sense of incredible pride and joy in connection with the victory of Azerbaijan in the 44-day war. This is an excellent example of how it is possible and necessary to liberate our lands that have been seized by the occupiers.

    Of course, after the war in Ukraine ends, my whole family and I will go to Azerbaijan to see the liberated Shusha and all our liberated lands. It is the duty of every Azerbaijani to the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for this great victory.

    Akbar Hasanov

    Caliber.Az

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