'Red Fox': interview with a Latvian sniper in Ukraine

Take note – story published 1 year and 2 months ago

Latvian Radio's Ukraine special correspondent has an exclusive interview with a Latvian sniper fighting in Ukraine.

The volunteer combatant with the nickname "Red Fox" has been in Ukraine since February 24 of last year.

"On February 24, when the war started, I got up at six in the morning, I watched the news and saw oh, the war has started. Well, I took my contract and tore it up. It was almost over for me at that time. I said, that's enough, I'm moving on. I came to Ukraine," explains the former Latvian serviceman.

By specialty, he is a sniper. For security reasons, he asks not to reveal more details about himself.

A nice, young, smiling guy. If it weren't for the war and the conditions in which we are meeting, there would be no way to tell that he is a sniper.

When asked how many enemy soldiers he has shot, Red Fox answers: "Twenty-one so far. But those are the confirmed ones."

In Ukraine, he is one of the most decorated Latvian soldiers but doesn't want to talk about his awards because he doesn't want it to look like he is bragging. Besides, the war isn't over yet and many other people in Ukraine deserve decorations.

The Red Fox made his career in the military field purposefully. He was in the Jaunsardze, (Latvia's youth cadet corps), then served in the military until the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, then arrived in Ukraine on February 25. He can name that moment to the minute.

"At 8:43 I crossed the border."

Originally he headed straight to Mariupol to help a Ukrainian friend.

"In the beginning, my motivation was to save a friend. Then the second motivation was when I started to see what was happening to people – on and around the borders, in all kinds of homes.

Dead ordinary people, dead children, dead pensioners. My motivation was to help the Ukrainian people, that's all.

The same thing happened to us in the First and Second World Wars," says the Red Fox.

When asked how long he plans to stay and fight in Ukraine, the Latvian sniper answers that he will remain until the end of the war. "Either I'll be transported home in a box, or until the end of the war."

Originally, he ended up in the legion of foreigners fighting on the side of Ukraine, where he served for about a year. More recently, he changed units and is currently fighting with a Ukrainian unit in the Donetsk region near Bakhmut.

When asked what the current situation is there, the Red Fox answers  as he often does – half jokingly, half seriously.

"Oh, everything is normal, beautiful. Everyone is waiting there with open arms (laughs). At least that's what I say. Well, it's not shitty there. Everything is fine there. We get hit in the head, they get hit in the head, but the Russians get hit in the head more than us. We are smarter."

He describes his duties at the front as follows: "I act more as a cover for the soldiers. I am a sniper by specialty, my task is to cover people, watch what is happening in front of them."

It is not uncommon to hear that the Ukrainian forces at the front are short of ammunition. Red Fox answers in the affirmative. Situations are variable, but shortages are felt from time to time.

"If I don't want to be detected, I have to shoot under some kind of louder sound. I really like when the artillery fires. At that moment I can fire without being detected. But there was one moment when we were almost caught, there were situations when I shot without any background sounds, I shot from an empty room," he says.

"We went up to the fifth floor, broke down the door, broke the window and shot at the Russians. I took down seven Russians. At night they came and started looking for us. There was no artillery, nothing else. We put on night vision goggles, we looked - there was a fire, Russians are running around, we called in artillery. The next day, the Ukrainians told us - 75 dead Russians."

Red Fox describes one of the most dangerous situations he has encountered during the last year.

"I went out with my partner for three days. During the night we were surrounded by the Russians. But we got out, everything was fine. We were just surrounded, we slept there. We stood with pistols and grenades at the door, but everything was fine, they left ."

"If they all came in or threw a grenade through the door, we'd be in Valhalla, but we're not there yet."

The Red Fox and its comrades also participated in the ambitious operation which culminated in the liberation of large areas in the Kharkiv region at the beginning of September.

"We started the big attack in the direction of Kupyansk. The guys drove to the checkpoint there, but they didn't know it was Russian. They drove there and started shooting at them. They jumped out of the car and ran back, I look at them through my optics – the guys are running , why are they running? They should be in the car, why are they running? Run, run, run, I hear - tuff, tuff, tuff, something is shooting. Ah, sure, there must be Russians there.

"Within half an hour, our tank arrived, but it had no shells. A tank drove ahead of us as an armored cover, then two armored personnel carriers drove behind us, and then I was behind them, and the whole team was still behind me. We went out, cleared the trenches.

I found a Russian pistol, ran and shot with two pistols like Rambo, the others threw grenades. But everything was fine, everyone was alive and well."

In general, Red Fox tries not to get too close to other members of the army, due to the high rate of attrition. In addition, he has to be wary of potential spies, as the Russian desire for retribution is well-known, particularly when it comes to snipers.

This is also the reason why Red Fox does not disclose its name, and the identity of other Latvian colleagues fighting, unless they have already publicly disclosed the information.

The Red Fox thinks that the war in Ukraine could last a long time.

"Well, here it looks like it won't be one or two years. The closer we get to the Russian border, the more the Russians have fortified themselves," he says.


When asked what kind of help he would like to receive from his compatriots in Latvia, he answers: "It would be good to send more cars, including spare parts. One or the other will help very much, because cars break down very quickly."

Red Fox drove the whole previous year with a car donated by Latvians, but now it is under repair and it looks like it won't last long. Therefore, support is still needed.

"It makes me happy that we are helped, that the Latvian people are helping. Everything is very beautiful, but if there is more, I am open to it all."

Along with the necessary equipment and equipment for warfare, Red Fox would very much like someone to bring him a full-size flag of Latvia suitable for flying from a mast.

He has Latvian tattoos on his back symbolising strength. He also has other tattoos. The newest of them is the Ukrainian trident. Under it, are 21 stripes – one for each of his confirmed kills in Ukraine.

Why did he decide to get such a tattoo? "If the Russians do pick me up - I hope not - but if they do, they will start cutting my head off there. (laughs) A quick death..."

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