Another source, who drove us through the military checkpoints and up to Avdiivka, reported being arrested as well, but by the Ukrainian government. The rebels briefly took over his home city. It was retaken in a month, and as a self-defense measure some of the men who'd collaborated with the brief rebel government turned him in as a sympathizer to allay suspicion from themselves.
This happened to him three times.
"When They Smoke, They Are Still Afraid, But They Can Function. With Alcohol They Cannot Function"
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images News/Getty Images
A good half of the soldiers we passed at the checkpoints were on their phones or actively using their phones as an ersatz boombox to allay the boredom of waiting at checkpoints. Ukraine's cell data network covers the areas involved in the fighting, which means soldiers are still free to text, check their email, and send selfies from the battleground. That last one is kind of a major problem.
See, most modern cameras include GPS data in the image files they make. Early in the war one Russian soldier posted a selfie on Instagram that led to the first objective confirmation that Russian soldiers were fighting in Ukraine:
The second was a "Guess the country?" meme.
When we were near the front, the Ukrainian military had forbidden pictures of their checkpoints and defenses, out of fear that separatist artillery would use the geodata to target bombardments. We were expressly forbidden from taking pictures of any of the emplacements as a result.
Alcohol and drugs are a big distraction, too: Remember that sniper from earlier, the one we met on the train? After drinking a glass pig filled with whiskey with him ...
And this little piggy got a DUI on the way home.
... he gave us a thumb drive with all of his war pictures and music (a lot of 3 Doors Down, to be honest). It included pictures of him with his gigantic, terrifying rifle:
Which absolutely stopped any chance of us calling him out on the 3 Doors Down thing.
But also this:
We asked him what the fuck was going on here, and he explained that the bottle set up there was a crude field bong they'd crafted to smoke marijuana with. He would only say that the weed came from "volunteers." He added:
"I've seen young guys old enough to be my sons, scared ... and when they smoke, they are still afraid, but they can function. With alcohol they cannot function."
In other words: If you can't stop your volunteer militia from getting fucked up in the field, better they be stoned than drunk. If there's only one message you ever take away from a Cracked article, make it that one.
Robert Evans has a Twitter. He thanks Jim Kovpak for translating. Check out Jim's blog about Russia!
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