You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ukraine war diary: 'We know that we will fight professionals'

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/17/2022 Carli Pierson, USA TODAY

USA TODAY Opinion will be presenting the story of Illarion Pavliuk, a renowned Ukrainian writer, documentary filmmaker and journalist. Through his own words, we will show how he went from father to one of the many citizens in Ukraine who have decided to fight back against the Russian invasion. 

These are the seventh and eighth dispatches. He is communicating with USA TODAY Editorial Board member Carli Pierson through the Telegram app that has become popular in Ukraine. 

It is 9:41 a.m. in Kyiv on Wednesday when filmmaker, author, father of four and now freedom fighter Illarion Paviluk sends his latest dispatch. He sends this one from his battalion.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

"They (are on) purpose bombing our hospitals, schools, kindergartens; they are destroying our towns. They are striking with their ballistic rockets and missiles launched from strategic bombers. They strike centers of our cities. It is now the war for annihilation. They are trying to eliminate Ukraine and Ukrainians. Though they have lots of problems. And it is very difficult for them to move on. They have loads of casualties. What do I feel in this situation? I have millions of thoughts.

"My 10-year-old son is now making camouflage nets for (the) military. All my family is doing what they can for the military. Here, all the time, strikes from the air and sounds of alarm. Lots of specially trained groups infiltrated in our territory. OK, it looks like an absolutely horrible war. We must be strong and we must win. But, of course, we need help. We need every support that can be given in this situation. I cannot even imagine how our militaries on the front feel and when did they sleep last time."

Illarion stands in front of the wall in his kitchen at an apartment they lived in until recently for 15 years outside of Kiev, in Brovary. © Illarion Pavliuk Illarion stands in front of the wall in his kitchen at an apartment they lived in until recently for 15 years outside of Kiev, in Brovary.

The emotions of war. Illarion sighs at this point in the recording: his voice, more desperate now, more sad. But he picks up his energy to finish the audio.  

'We need help.'

"We are moving forward with our normal unit. We are in the process of forming a normal strong unit to work with them in groups, reconnaissance groups. And other groups in our territory. And we know that we will fight professionals. It will not be young guys who don't understand where they go. Our enemy in particular they are professionals. So, we need to be ready.

That's it for now."

His first video diary 


It's 7 p.m. in Kyiv when he sends me his first video. It's Day 7 of the war, and he is finishing eating with his volunteer battalion. He says they need to be smart and effective, not just brave.

Illarion talks about the Russian strikes in the area and the effort to form a new unit, which includes helping with the training of the younger fighters. 

"We will definitely win." 

Illarion Pavliuk is an author, screenwriter and producer of more than 10 documentaries and films, and served as a member of the jury for the 2011 Emmy Awards. In 2015, he served as an intelligence volunteer in the war in eastern Ukraine.

Carli Pierson is an attorney, former professor of human rights, writer and member of USA TODAY's Editorial Board. You can follow her on Twitter: @CarliPiersonEsq

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine war diary: 'We know that we will fight professionals'



image beaconimage beaconimage beacon