Voices from Russia

Monday, 10 May 2010

“After Our Arrival in Vietnam, It’s Said that American Pilots Refused to Fly…”

Filed under: history,patriotic,Russian,Soviet period,USA,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

A pair of Lavochkin S75 Dvina SAMs of the sort provided to the Vietnam People’s Army to defend against American air strikes against Vietnamese urban areas. This type of missile brought down the U2 of Gary Francis Powers (ending American overflights of the USSR) and the Egyptians used it to great effect in 1973, inflicting major losses on the Heyl HaAvir LeYisra’el.

Editor’s Foreword:

Victory Day is a kind of “Veterans’ Day” in Russia, so, here is the story of a Russian veteran of the Vietnam War. Yes, Virginia, Russians took part in the Korean War, and in the Vietnam War, too. In the first, they and the Chinese fought the Americans to a stalemate. In the second, Russians helped Vietnam to withstand everything that America threw at it, and they went on to win.



There were thousands of them… but officially, they were not there at all. The participation of Soviet military personnel in the Vietnam War was a secret. Voice of Russia World Service managed to interview one of the men who defended Vietnam from American air raids.

On 30 January, it’s the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and Vietnam. One of the brightest pages in the history of relations between the two countries was our military assistance to Vietnam during their war against American aggression in the 1960s and 70s. VOR interviewed a veteran who was deeply involved in the events of the Vietnam War. We spoke to Nikolai Kolesnik, the chairman of an interregional public organisation representing Russian veterans of the Vietnam War, mainly missile troops of the PVO, who participated in the battles against the US Air Force from 1965 onwards.


Nikolai Kolesnik:

Soviet military aid [to Vietnam] was generous and comprehensive. In monetary terms, it amounted to about two million dollars a day for the duration of the war. We delivered much military materiel to Vietnam. To cite just a few figures, we sent 2,000 tanks, 7,000 guns and mortars, over 5,000 anti-aircraft guns and installations, 158 surface-to-air missile systems, more than 700 combat aircraft, 120 helicopters, and more than 100 naval vessels. All of these supplies were given free of charge. We trained the Vietnamese so that they could use this gear to the utmost of its capability. To do this, Soviet military specialists went to Vietnam. From July 1965 to the end of 1974, some 6,500 officers, as well as more than 4,500 soldiers and NCOs of the Soviet Armed Forces fought in the Vietnam War. In addition, more than 10,000 Vietnamese soldiers went to military schools and academies of the USSR for specialised training.

Voice of Russia:

Some say that the USSR sent obsolescent equipment to Vietnam.

MiG-21 of the Vietnam People’s Army Air Force (ironically, now in the collection of the USAF museum in Ohio)


At the time, it was the most up-top-date stuff we had. For example, we sent them MiG-21 jet fighters, Vietnamese pilots flying them shot down F-105 attack planes and B-52 bombers. In all, during the war years, fighters of the Vietnam People’s Army Air Force destroyed 350 enemy aircraft. Vietnamese losses were much smaller, 145 aircraft. The history of the VPAAF includes [six] air aces that shot down 7 to 9 American planes. At the same time, the most successful US pilot in the Vietnam War, DeBellevue, won only six aerial victories. During the war, we delivered Dvina SAM systems that were capable of hitting targets flying as high as 25,000 metres (82,021 feet). At the time, an American magazine, The Journal of Military Technology, stated, “This is the most lethal ground-launched weapon for anti-aircraft use”.

Vietnamese SAM units, which were established and trained by Soviet specialists, shot down over 1,300 American aircraft, including 54 B-52 strategic bombers. Each of these bombers could carry 25 tons of bombs, which could destroy all the buildings on a square equal in size to thirty football pitches and kill everyone there. The Americans flew air strikes against the Ho Chi Minh Trail and urban targets in North Vietnam, flying at a height inaccessible to anti-aircraft guns. After our first victories, they sharply reduced their operational altitude to avoid our missiles, but that meant that they came within range of anti-aircraft artillery. After the appearance of Soviet SAMs, it’s said that US military pilots refused to fly bombing missions over North Vietnam. Their high command had to take urgent action, including raising the payment for each sortie and sending out more replacement crews to the combat zone. During the first battles, Soviet crews operated the SAMs, but the Vietnamese learned from this experience. On 24 July 1965, the first Soviet SAM was fired over the skies of Vietnam. Four American Phantom fighter-bombers were flying to Hanoi, at a height above the effective range of Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns. Soviet crews launched SAMs at these aircraft. Three out of the four planes were shot down. Ever since that day, the date of this victory has been celebrated each year in Vietnam as the Day of the Missile Forces.

US A4C Skyhawk shot down by VPAAF fighter aircraft


Do you remember your first time in action? What happened then?


It was 11 August 1965. On that day, we were on combat alert 18 times. No matter what we did, nothing worked. Finally, late that night, three of our SAM sites shot down four enemy planes. If you count all the units of First and Third Vietnamese SAM Air Defence Regiments in that battle, in which I participated, we shot down 15 enemy aircraft.


Certainly, the Americans must have hunted down your missile sites?


Yes. We had to change our location after every battle. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have survived, as the Americans immediately launched missile and bomb strikes on any identified position of our SAM sites. To prevent us from using our equipment, the Americans used radar interference missiles such as the Shrike. Needless to say, our military engineers responded and improved our SAMs.


Personally, did you ever see any American pilot POWs?


No, I never saw any POWs myself. You see, our presence in Vietnam wasn’t publicised. Suffice it to say, during our entire tour of duty, we were in civvies, without any personal weapons, and even without any documents. They were kept in our embassy.

American F4C (?) Phantom destroyed by a SAM over Vietnam


When they told you that you were going to Vietnam, what did you say at home?


I served in a PVO regiment based near Moscow. The regimental commander announced that we were going to go on a mission to a country with “a hot tropical climate”. They left it open that anyone who didn’t want to go could apply for a transfer. I talked about it with the folks at home.


What most impressed you, as a young guy, in the first place?


Everything amazed me, the unusual scenery, people, climate, and, of course, my first experience of being bombed. In fact, Moscow ordered us to focus on the education and training of the Vietnamese crews. We had to train them right in the combat positions, during the daily and unceasing US air raids. However, the Vietnamese are very tenacious people, and they learned very quickly. Of course, I learned basic commands and terms in Vietnamese.


What was most difficult thing for you?


I’d say it was the unbearable heat and high humidity. For example, after spending 40 minutes refuelling rocket oxidant in a special suit, I lost nearly a kilo of weight.


Do the Vietnamese young people remember the war? How do they treat the Soviet veterans such as you?


The Vietnamese treat the veterans of that war with great respect. We remember the hard realities of war and our general victory. A younger, more pragmatic, generation asked us with interest about those battles, and they asked about the details of the war, which were unknown to them.


Today, many in our country have a very sceptical attitude towards the participation of the Soviet Union in foreign conflicts. What stands out the most for you about your service in the Vietnam War?


For me, those battles remain the most vivid events in my life. My comrades, both Soviet and Vietnamese, participated in historic events, and we forged victory in the most literal sense. I am proud that I helped the Vietnamese people to fight for their independence and that I took part in the creation of the SAM Air Defence force in Vietnam.

29 January 2010

Voice of Russia World Service



Victory Day Wrap-Up

Filed under: history,Russian,Soviet period,World War II — 01varvara @ 00.00

Who woulda thunk it? The Orangies are nothing but a bad hangover… shall the three bogatyryami be reunited again? One hopes so!

Editor’s Foreword:

I usually work from Russian originals, but being pressed for time, I used the English versions, edited for grammatical solecisms only. You can do that with VOR… they (and RIA-Novosti) are the best at “Englishing” Russian (although they do fall into Russianisms now and again). After all, the news has to go up on schedule, otherwise it’s nothing but wrapping for potato peelings…



Victory Day in Kiev… a portrait of… STALIN! Dare we hope that the days of the sickly “Ukrainian” successor-state are numbered? God willing…

Troops from Russia and Belarus participated in a Victory Day parade in Kiev in the Ukraine. Soldiers wearing World War II-style uniforms and carrying flags of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ukrainian fronts and of the Ukrainian Partisan Front marched along the city’s main street, the Kreschatik. The ceremony in Kiev to mark the 65th anniversary since the end of WW II in Europe began when the top officials of the Ukraine laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also dedicated a monument to Marshal of Aviation Ivan Kozhedub, three-time Hero of the Soviet Union [and famous fighter ace of the Great Patriotic War and the Korean War].

On Saturday, a classical music concert opened a week of anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. The audience gave a warm welcome to Russian pianists and laureates of international competitions Gyulnara Galimshina and Igor Lavrov who performed pieces by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Rachmaninov, and Sviridov, and a piano version of the song Victory Day composed by David Tukhmanov.

Girl with St George Ribbon at festivities in Kiev

On the 65th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism, two teams of mountain climbers planted Victory banners on two peaks in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia in the Caucasus. The first team, which consisted of 10 alpinists from Poland and Georgia, set a banner on Mount Kazbek at an altitude of 5,033 metres. The second team, which consisted of local alpinists, planted a banner on the top of Mount Bezymyannaya.

On Sunday, Acting Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, the Marshal of the Sejm, visited Katyn, near Smolensk, where nearly 4,000 Polish officer POWs were shot in 1940. The graves of repressed Soviet citizens shot by the NKVD are next to the graves of the Poles. Komorowski, who was accompanied by renowned Polish director Andrzej Wajda, laid wreaths in both the Russian and Polish parts of the cemetery, according to reports from RIA-Novosti. The Katyn Memorial Complex was created by Russia and Poland in 2000. Earlier, near Smolensk, Komorowski laid flowers at a memorial on the site of the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other people on 10 April. The Polish delegation headed by Komorowski left Moscow after the end of the official commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory.

Vets in St Petersburg in the parade

9 May… 18.55 MSK… We are silent in memory of the fallen for just a moment, but their memory should be for all eternity… We do not forget those who gave their lives so that the horrors of fascism would never recur. That memory should be as eternal as the immortal feats (подвиг) of the fallen. The Eternal Flame … it is not blown out by the wind. The rain does not douse it; time does not fade it. It is a living and wondrous thing, this Eternal Flame, it is a sign of our eternal memory, of our eternal debt and gratitude. The living… the dead. It’s a light for all of us, it is a light to highlight our sorrow, and our love, as it flickers before the names of the fallen.

Veterans in Moscow sharing a toast

In our country, during the Great Patriotic War, virtually every family lost a loved one. No home was left untouched by sorrow. On this day, we remember those who fought the enemy at the front, those who fought with the partisans, and those who served in the rear services, all those who gave their strength, health, and lives in the name of Victory. Before the memory of those who in the name of our common homeland, the planet Earth, who gave their lives to seal a brotherhood and a spiritual kinship, we should realise the dream of the fallen for simple human happiness for all future generations. For us, with you, all of us! Today, in every family, in every human heart, there is eternal gratitude for the sacrifice of those who did not get to return home from the war. In all the churches of our land, in all our languages, all of our peoples say memorial prayers for the fallen. They may differ according to the faith or confession, but their meaning is the same. “Grant blessed repose, O Lord, to these Thy departed servants, who shed their blood and gave their lives on the battlefield! Grant them eternal memory! Yes, let their memory be unto the ages of ages! Eternal Memory!” A moment of silence… Our country falls silent, in tribute to all those who laid down their lives on the altar of the Great Victory of the last century. This silence will only last a moment, but our remembrance of those who gave their lives for the future, for our future, will never fade.

Fireworks in Moscow

Yesterday, millions of Russians took part in festive events to celebrate the 65th Victory Day. Many went to Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, which is the site of Victory Park, laid out in memory of the soldiers fallen during the Great Patriotic War. This year, the fireworks displays in the cities of military glory lasted longer than usual. In addition, military parades were held throughout the country at 10.00 MSK on Sunday. The main official event was held in Moscow’s Red Square. Troops of the Allied Nations and CIS countries marched across the square along with Russian servicemen. The leaders of more than 20 countries, including German Reichkanzler Angela Merkel, watched the parade.

Today, the world-famous Royal Albert Hall in London is hosting a Victory Day concert featuring Russian popular singers such as Iosif Kobzon and Nadezhda Babkina, and the pre-eminent song and dance troupe of the Russian Army, the Aleksandrov Ensemble (the old Red Army Chorus). World War II veterans from Russia, Great Britain, and the US are expected to be major guests at the event.

President Dmitri Medvedev and his wife Svetlana at the fireworks (both 1965- )

Russian mountain climber Maksim Bogatyrev erected a red Victory banner at the summit of Mount Everest to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Bogatyrev started ascending on 20 April and reached the peak exactly on 9 May. Now, Bogatyrev, a native of the Republic of Adygea in North Caucasus, is getting ready to travel to Antarctica.

9-10 May 2010

Voice of Russia World Service









10 May 2010… Random Ruminations From Your Editor…

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Thieves Should Be Put In Prison (Arkady Areseniev, 2004). This was a poster on the oligarchs such as Khodorkovsky… it does apply to Bobby K, the Iggster, and Velencia, does it not? Forgiveness means that you’re off the hook with God; it isn’t a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

One of the favourite pastimes amongst the konvertsy is declaring this or that person “excommunicated”. They’re chock fulla beans. I asked a priest-friend of mine of about it, and he had some interesting things to say about it all. Firstly, we don’t have “excommunication” in the sense that the Westerns use. Rather, we have two different concepts. The first is an “epitimia”… a priest can impose a penance in confession as part of one’s absolution. This is common enough in normal use. The second is “anathema”, and is far more serious. Only a bishop may impose this. This is VERY rarely done. As for all the canons that supposedly “excommunicate” people, they cannot be applied without a hearing before the bishop, with the person having the right to defend themselves. This was NOT done in the case of Mme Plas in France… Gabriel just unilaterally barred her from the chalice. Note well that SVS supported Gabriel to the max… that’s no stretch for them, for they teach the heretical doctrine of Schmemann that the laity concelebrate at the liturgy and “must” receive (a doctrine that Frs Michael Pomozansky and Daniil Sysoev both refuted absolutely and utterly). A friend of mine told me that they heard some of the konvertsy screaming that this one and that one were “excommunicated”. No, Virginia, we don’t do it that way…

Another friend was telling me how some SVS commandos were posting personal details of people’s lives on the internet (not me this time). Frankly, one should simply ignore such rubbish. As the late Bishop Job of Happy Memory pointed up, this is what they do. What can one do? Firstly, do not belong to the “internet forums”. They are not only a waste of your God-given time; the SVS crowd uses them (particularly the so-called Orthodox Forum) as a means of intimidation. Secondly, keep focused, and keep your own posting within limits. If in doubt, ask a trusted priest or friend. One time, I came up with a nugget concerning the Iggster. I asked my staritsa about it. She said, “It’s not connected with his public role as a priest, and it’s not illegal. Keep this one under wraps”. In short, we are to follow Solzhenitsyn’s dictum, “Survive at almost any cost”. Yes, I know it’s not fair… but that’s how life is. Deal with it. Don’t argue with such sorts, don’t try to “defend” yourself, and don’t reply to them… it’s pig rasslin’ of the dimmest and dumbest kind. The perversity and disrespect for the private lives of ordinary folk shown by the OCA fanatics speaks for itself. Let it be…

One of the things that some of my correspondents were regretting is that Raymond Velencia got off entirely scot-free after the Koumentakos affair. Some were waiting for an announcement from the OCA Holy Synod meeting in Colorado. I would say that Paffhausen has a new policy towards the faithful… “Tell them nothing at all”. He told you nothing about his ecumaniac lovefeast in Texas with the Episkies in April and he told you nothing about the Holy Synod meeting. NOTHING. Let that sink in. I predict that nothing is going to happen to Bobby K, the Iggster, or Ray Velencia. Nothing at all, and they’re not going to deign to issue any kind of report whatsoever. On the other hand, whenever there is a Holy Synod meeting in Moscow, there is a press release stating who was present, the items on the agenda, and the resolutions of the Synod. That’s all that’s being asked… and Paffhausen refuses to give even that. That speaks loudly of his attitude. Remember how Stokoe screamed and hollered whenever Herman wouldn’t release information? Well, his pal Paffhausen is worse… and he supports him and tells us what a great man he is. Hmm… let’s see… Paffhausen had his move to Washington nixed by the MC… so, he moved there anyway. Where was Stokoe?

I would warn anyone about the English-language side of the website Pravoslavie.Ru. The Russian side is solid… it should be, the editor is Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov. The English-language side has been infiltrated by the Platina bunch… there was an ad for CSB Publishing there. Yes, CSB stands for “Christ the Saviour Brotherhood”… yes, the HOOMies. Poor Fr Tikhon doesn’t speak English, so, he has been bamboozled. One of the translators (at least) is from the Platina crowd that was under Gleb Podmoshensky; she “dumbs down” some pieces and softens any criticism of the heterodox found in the Russian original. Thus, don’t use the English side of this site… go to the Russian side and run a machine translation… it’s better than nothing, and there is no HOOMie contamination. Don’t forget, not only did the ROCOR Holy Synod defrock Gleb Podmoshensky, Paffhausen freely associated with him after that defrocking. There are all too many konvertsy in the OCA and AOCANA contaminated by contact with Podmoshensky. The so-called St Herman Monastery has been a cancer in the Church since the death of Fr Seraphim Rose. Never forget… Paffhausen refuses to come clean about his deep involvement with Podmoshensky. Podmoshensky was a known sodomite… what does this say about Paffhausen?

Orthodoxy in the USA is certainly NOT boring. Actually, a bit of “ordinariness” is what is called for… “interesting” may make for bracing history; unfortunately, it makes for unpleasantness and nastiness in day-to-day life. May God shorten the time of the OCA fanatics… please, do let that be so.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 10 May 2010

Albany NY

Blog at WordPress.com.