At the presentation of the Gold Star to the Minister of Defense, Oleg arrived in a green infantry jacket, and to the Radio KP studio in a black navy blue jacket. He has the right to serve in coastal defense.
Photo: Alexander ShPAKOVSKY
On the eve of Heroes’ Day, which is celebrated in Russia on December 9, “Komsomolskaya Pravda continues the series of exclusive interviews with soldiers who performed real feats in the area of the Northern Military District. Today we have a conversation with the Hero of Russia Oleg Pivovarov.
We thank the press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense for organizing meetings with the heroes of the Northern Military District.
OF THE PRIZE – TO MOM
If it weren’t for his dress uniform, this guy would hardly have stood out among his peers, after having passed the first quarter of a century. But the black jacket, the anchors on the buttonholes and the hero’s star on the chest make Captain Oleg Pivovarov, originally from Krasnoyarsk, special. Although he himself, of course, doesn’t think so.
– For me, the title of Hero has always been something unattainable, somewhere very, very high. And everyone thinks that it is impossible to achieve it. When they told me I had been nominated for the award I thought: well, okay, they presented it and presented it. You never know who they represent at all. I didn’t even expect to get anything. And seven months later, the brigade commander tells me: “There is a telegram, a presidential decree, congratulations!” Excellent!
– And to Moscow for the awards?
– Yes. The Star was presented by Sergei Kuzhugetovich. And from there straight to the front. I simply went to my mother and gave her a box with the original Star, with a certificate. Mom is very impressionable. There were tears, laughter and joy. Very pretty. She even blushed.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented the Hero Star to Oleg. Photo: Press service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
ON THE DEAD RIGHT OF THE DNIEPR
– Judging by your uniform, are you a marine?
– Not precisely. We have a coastal defense brigade. I have the right to wear black and turquoise uniforms.
Oleg followed in the footsteps of his father, also a soldier, with whom he traveled to almost all Russian garrisons. Apart from military service, I saw almost nothing in life and did not prepare myself for civilian life. After school, I went directly to the Far Eastern Higher Combined Arms Command School in Blagoveshchensk. He graduated in 2020 and was posted to Crimea. In the Northern Military District, from the first days he fought in a southern direction. There, still on the right bank, he had to make the most adult decision of his life at 23 years old.
NEAR THE LINE OF THE NAMELESS FOREST
– The enemy attacked us with the fist of a tank. About 20 tanks. And on the first day we completely defeated his column, cut off the infantry and destroyed it. But in this battle my company commander died, and I was a platoon commander, a senior lieutenant, the only officer left in the company. “I had to take charge,” Oleg recalls. -He went to the left flank. Where the biggest confrontation with the enemy took place. He encouraged the people who saw the company commander’s death and were shocked.
The next day, the Ukrainian Armed Forces again went on the offensive with even larger forces. As a result of a 10-hour battle, Pivovarov’s company is surrounded by a forest area. The enemy presses from both the right and the left. Our fighters are in a perimeter defense, with a field in front, another behind and a forest belt to the right and left. As far as direct contact was concerned, it became clear that there were now few ways out.
“I decided to set myself on fire,” Oleg recalls nonchalantly.
– How did you manage to survive?
– They were well entrenched. This is what saved us. For this I have my former company commander to thank. An infantryman’s life depends on his position, just as he has done for himself. I gave the order to the platoon to retreat, the first ten people left the forest belt to more advantageous positions. I called in the artillery and we took refuge in the trenches. The first group of graduates flew directly through the forest belt. We hear the cries of the enemy. After this the rest of our infantry came out. And when I was alone, I summoned the fire of Grad again. When they finished working, I was the last one to leave…
-How do you feel when “Grad” covers your positions?
– It was terrifying. But at that moment I didn’t think if he would survive or not. It was all a matter of adrenaline, the desire to save the boys. If you can’t survive, take out as many enemies as you can. The stars aligned for me to be lucky to survive. And the enemy suffered serious losses. From interceptions we heard that Special Operations Forces (SOF) entered the forest belt. There was such a dialogue: “We cannot eliminate them, there are some specialists sitting here.” And there were ordinary infantry. We were tough guys who didn’t give up our position. When the guys we were with heard this, they were proud. And we came out without losses.
THE MOBILIZED CAN NOW DO EVERYTHING
– What is it like to manage people? You have probably mobilized people who are suitable to be parents?
– At first, to be honest, they did not inspire confidence: they were day laborers, someone was a gardener, a plasterer. And now they have a machine gun in their hand. But in battle the mobilized showed themselves very well. They also know and are willing to fight for their country. In fact, everyone has already mixed together. Former soldiers hired, volunteers, mobilized. When people enter the same division, everyone becomes equally good.
– Does the Hero Star affect your authority among your subordinates?
– Everything depends not on prizes, but on actions. A new person comes, I talk to him, I explain the situation at the front. I find out who he is, children, family problems. I delve into everything. And I send it to the unit and give it to the platoon commander. And then they say: do you even know who you talked to? With the hero of Russia. I myself am silent about this.
– In almost two years of fighting, what surprised you the most?
– Exit on the right bank. That was a shame. But it is understood that this decision was necessary. It is better to save lives than simply lose them, as is happening now in Ukraine. The special operation is not over yet, I think we will return.
VIEW FROM THE FRONT
– You have been in the SVO from the beginning. Is the nature of combat changing in any way?
– And how! Battle tactics and weapon use are changing. The main emphasis now is on unmanned aerial vehicles, from light to large-winged ones. On the one hand, they simplify the task, on the other, the enemy has all the same things. Fighting is on a whole new level. The biggest concern in my area right now is FPV drones. The enemy uses them much and frequently. It is almost impossible to move in open areas. All movements are only at night.
Captain Pivovarov’s unit is now stationed in one of the hottest areas: near the Dnieper. The enemy tried to create a bridgehead for the offensive here. But I was faced with the dedication of our soldiers. As a result, there are no strategic successes for kyiv. The Armed Forces of Ukraine land troops at night, but our aviation, artillery and infantry systematically attack them. They senselessly leave their people. And we are depleting the enemy’s manpower.
“Each direction has its pros and cons,” reflects Oleg. – We have the advantage that in front of us there is a river. But at the same time this makes it difficult to observe the enemy, he is far away. There is a gray area: the islands, which are very difficult to control. Most of them are behind us. Let them rush, launch unequipped infantry, which is simply physically impossible to move along the Dnieper – our artillery will suppress any transfer of tanks or armored personnel carriers. And we will destroy the infantry in a bag of fire. His command simply sends infantry with radio stations, trying to control him from the other side. But the personal presence of the commander is one thing and communication is another. This does not inspire confidence.