It was here that I met "Monatik," the crew commander of the 120- mm M971 mortar unit, and "Kozak," his spotter. Both men have risked their lives time and time again to defend their homeland, and both have seen more than their fair share of bloodshed and loss.
But as I sat down with them in a makeshift bunker, I discovered that amidst the chaos and devastation, there was still hope – and it came in the form of a civilian Python Range Master monocular.
"Monatik" was an adult man of about 50, with the kind, fatherly demeanor of a schoolteacher. He commanded the respect of his subordinates, who followed his orders without question. As we spoke, I noticed the Python Range Master monocular hanging from his neck and asked him why the military was using civilian equipment instead of their own.
Rumors had been swirling that Western aid to the Ukrainian military was insufficient, and I wanted to know if there was any truth to them.