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Nazar Vozniuk: “In the army, there is something you cannot find in any other circle – a sense of trust”

A premonition of a full-scale war

I lived in Kryvyi Rih, happily, with my wife and small child, who was almost three years old in 2014. I worked as a lawyer, had my own law firm, and hosted a TV program in which I tried to explain complex legal issues in human terms.

The war broke out, and since I was a former soldier and border guard officer, I was not sitting at home. I felt something and left. I went somewhere.

It happened that in 2014, while I was volunteering in Ilovaisk, my wife died. I had to return home because I was left alone with my small child.

In my opinion, as of 2019, we already had a lot of intelligence indications that the Russian invasion was in the making. The fact that the war would not be limited to Donbas was obvious since 2014, but as of 2019, I had the full impression that the invasion was coming. In 2019, there were more of these signs than in 2014.

Of course, I delayed the moment of returning to service. But in 2019, it was so obvious that something was about to happen that it was no longer an option to stay at home, as they say in Kryvyi Rih: “Lame”.

But then the events in Nagorno-Karabakh happened (the russians were bound to Armenia by the CSTO treaty and were not ready to fight on two fronts), and the coronavirus, which, in my opinion, confused absolutely all the cards on the world table. Well, of course, except for those who laid them out, clearly not russians. And they, in my opinion, were simply forced to postpone the invasion plan.

Trauma and rehabilitation

Talking about injuries and remembering them is unpleasant for anyone. When I was injured, of course, I received first aid. I was taken to the hospital and had an X-ray. Unlike the guys who were severely injured, all my limbs were in place.

At that time, I had an acute injury, the consequences of which were difficult to predict. It was a spinal injury, but I can walk, which is good, and the fact that I can go to the toilet by myself -is even better.

What motivated me the most during the rehabilitation period was the understanding that I had to recover, because I had to be there for my child. My son supported me and took me to training. Once I taught him to swim. When he was three years old, just before the start of the ATO, he learned to swim and that was his “present” for me. And then,  it happened, that he returned the favour and “taught me back”. Because in case of my injury, one of the prescriptions for rehabilitation is swimming. And my son took full revenge on me, mocking me with the same phrases and the same way I once mocked him. He did not let me relax for a minute.

The thing I like most about swimming is that it is not in a dugout, not in a trench and not in a destroyed house. No one is shooting at me while swimming. It’s a great way to combine business with pleasure. I need it to restore my health, and it is not as painful as injections. I take less medication when I go swimming. 

Conclusions from the war

One of the conclusions I have drawn from the war is that it is best to avoid war. The best war is the one that did not happen. I think history will put everything in its place, and one day the archives will be made public, and we will find out whether this war could have been avoided or whether we could have done with fewer victims. But today everything points to the fact that nothing depended on us, the decision was made. We did not provoke anything. This war can only be explained by the schizophrenic disorder of certain individuals.

And one more conclusion from the war. As the Latin saying goes: “If you want peace, prepare for war”. If we had been strong and prepared for war at the time and had shown in every way that we were ready to fight back by any means –  perhaps the war would not have happened.

Frankly, I personally did not even expect the course of the war to be as it is, and I was ready for the start of a full-scale invasion, including the fact that I would probably not return. I didn’t even believe that in a year we would reach such milestones and raise the question of returning all the territories, including the 1991 borders. I personally did not even count on it. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we have such a result and such a state of affairs now.


What does a successful lawyer need the army for?

I have thought about this many times myself. I found the answer to this in the field of psychology. The first time I saw my father, my first conscious memory of my father, was when he returned from Afghanistan. Before that, I just don’t remember him. I was a little kid. Probably it was somehow stored in my memory And the fact that my great-grandfather and grandfather served too.

When the war broke out, I was a career military man, a trained one. I realized that my actions could be more effective than those of those guys who were simply taken into the army without professional training.

What is your most vivid memory from the war of previous years?

Probably every soldier who has gone through this journey will confirm that it is a complete sense of trust that cannot be felt in any other circle in life, except in the family. When you have no doubt that even a stranger next to you is ready to give his life to cover you at the right moment. That’s what appeals to you and makes you want to go back. And, by the way, such an atmosphere can also be felt here, at the training camp of the Invictus Games. These guys hardly knew each other, but they have been behaving like a family since the first day, and everything is going very well.

How do you explain the war in Ukraine to yourself?

We are being reborn. This is actually a liberation struggle. It is the birth, the rebirth of nations. For us, this war is of an existential nature. We will either resist, and the question of what borders is really secondary, we will remain as a nation, or we will dissolve and be destroyed as a government. Because the russians have repeatedly articulated their attitude to this war.

It’s the same with our neighbours – all the masks are off, and everyone has realized who they are. I think the whole world already understands that Carthage must be destroyed. They, too, will undergo such radical changes that their previous existence will be impossible.

It seems to civilians that the war lasts for a long time, how does it look to the military?

Physicists have proved that time flows completely differently on different sides of the toilet door. To civilians, it seems like a long time, to us it seems like an instant. I have to call for patience because it will be even longer, in my opinion, until Carthage is destroyed.

What do you want to do after the war?

I will return to my favourite profession, law. Perhaps I will continue to do journalism. I really liked taking some intricate legislative novelties that even experienced lawyers break their “spears

‘ over and translating them quickly and efficiently into “human” language. It seemed to me that people needed it too.

What do you want for yourself personally?

Like all ordinary people,  I want my mom to be healthy and my child to be obedient.

Why do you want to participate the Invictus Games?

First of all, it’s that unique feeling of brotherly support, the feeling of unity of this wonderful team. Secondly, it is an opportunity to improve my physical shape. And thirdly, it’s an opportunity to just swim instead of sitting near Bakhmut or near Avdiivka.

Frankly speaking, I was surprised when I got into the national team. I did well at the selection, but I thought that since I am an active serviceman, I did not need rehabilitation as much as those guys who are no longer serving.

The competition makes me want to represent our country with dignity at the international level because it is a great responsibility. I don’t want to feel ashamed later. And most importantly, I don’t want to feel bad for the fact that I could have done more, I could have done better, but I didn’t do enough.

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