Girl on fire. How Tetyana Chubar, gunner of the Ukrainian howitzer and mother of two, fights a war

She wanted to become a confectioner, and now she’s shooting howitzer at the “orcs” – this is the most concise biography of 24-year-old Tetyana Chubar from Konotop.

“Fire! Fire!” – these words from a short video, shot inside the Ukrainian self-propelled howitzer 2S1 Gvozdika, are loudly repeated by a fighter with long eyelashes and in a black rough headset. And Gvozdika, obeying, shudders from the next shot. Soldier smiles, checks the sight again and repeats “Fire!”

The main character of this video was 24-year-old Tetyana Chubar from Konotop, Sumy region – her friend recorded her, a howitzer gunner, on video during an artillery battle. He posted it on video hosting on April 16. Over the next five days, the video with this “angel” of Ukrainian artillery received a total of 1 million views.

NV managed to contact Chubar by phone during a short pause in her war life , – the servicewoman left her unit to visit parents, who are now looking after her two children.

Chubar is reluctant to discuss her private life, but sincerely (however, within the limits of what is allowed) talks about the military service.

You used to be a confectioner, and then you joined the Armed Forces. How did that happen?

Even when I was 10-11 years old, my father really wanted me to join the army. Actually, I wanted to study as a a doctor, a surgeon, and then join the army in the medical field. But it didn’t work out for me because my parents divorced. I understood that we couldn’t afford this financially. So I studied to be a pastry chef. But as soon as I turned 18, I joined the army – not as a doctor, but in whatever position I could.

ТЕХНІКА ПЕРЕМОГИ: В армії Тетяна Чубар (праворуч) спочатку служила в медроті, але згодом вивчилася на навідника САУ. На фото — Чубар з частиною екіпажу стоїть на самоходці (Фото: Тетяна Чубар)
Chubar with part of her crew stands on the howitzer

And which position was available?

I was a statistician in the medical company in 2017. Then – the maternity leave. As I got our I joined the reactive artillery battery, also in the 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade of Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky, as a loader.

You are in the crew now?

After the decree, in 2019, I joined the crew [in the self-propelled artillery, the crew consists of a gun commander, loader, gunner and driver-mechanic]. When I called the commander, there was no available position. I came and said: I want to return to service, that’s it. Konstantin Sergeevich Viter [commander] answered: I have only a position of a loader. You will have to carry shells there. I told him I was ready – if I had to, I would carry shells. I would do everything if I had to. Because I wanted to return.

At that time I was told: do you need this? I already had a UBD [document of a combat veteran, which grants benefits]. But that’s not why I returned to the army. I just like it, I found my place here.

My family did not want me to serve. But I stood my ground and signed the contract.

This is hard work. You need to lift and load a projectile which weights few tens of kilograms.

Yes. In the reactive artillery, when I was there, they didn’t allow me near shell. But I did what I could on my own. I was there as a radio operator: wherever they pushed, there I am. “You’re a girl, where are you going to shells.” I answered: I don’t care, I have to do it. There is no such thing as not doing something I don’t want. If it is necessary – I will do it.

You were in this crew, engaged in radio communication, and then you went to study to be a gunner?

Yes. I was a radio operator and helped in the headquarters, in the self-propelled battalion.


I understand that I have two children. I still want to study to be an officer, but I can’t do it yet, because I am away from home all the time . The children will not see me at all. But I want to move on.

Why a gunner?

So it turned out that they ask me: “Will you go to study as a gunner on a self-propelled artillery?” I said, “I’ll go.” I’m always interested in something new. I studied for two months [in school] in Nemyriv and I’m a gunner for two years already.

What was the most difficult thing in your studies? What is the most difficult thing for a gunner?

It is necessary to fit in time limitis and not to confuse: there is “to mark”, and there is “to get a lock”. And gunners are often confused.

But what is it?

“Mark” – we turn the panorama [change the position of the sight], and “lock” – we turn the tower [change the position of the gun due to the rotation of the tower in which it is installed].

They trained me – it’s all about time: you have to do everything very quickly.

Are there many women in the artillery?

There are many women in the artillery, but they hold different positions. In our battalion, in our brigade, there are girls in combat positions.

ВАЖКА ПРАЦЯ: У самоходці навідниці Тетяні Чубар доводиться вправлятись с важкими снарядами. Але її це не спиняє (Фото: Тетяна Чубар)

Have you already been in combat?

Yes, in Chernihiv region. The orcs rode the same road back and forth. They tried to get to Kyiv. And we met them, let’s call it this way, with flowers – with 2S1 Gvozdikas [Carnations] – on the main road.

Gvozdikas do not have the largest caliber – 122 mm. But can its shot destroy 3-5 vehicles at a time, if they go in a column?

Yes. Even a shrapnel [shot] – the shrapnel shatters on impact. And if we hit a big building with a lot of vehicles nearby… Throw a slow-moving projectile there, it hits the roof, falls, hits – and it all knocks out inside nicely.

What was the most difficult during the war?

We once went to the position. The order was: “Five fast – and go home.” That means firing five shells quickly. We just did it – a got a new order: “Five more fast but with slow shells.” Even the gun commander then began to help supplying shells to do everything at a pace. He gives shells, loader loads, I aim, – we shoot. As soon as all five shots were fired, we immediately began to flee, even folding the barrel on the move. And we already heard – it flies back to us. We managed to drive away a few meters, and the shelling of our position began. We, thank God, managed to leave.

Gvozdika has no armor, unlike a tank. Therefore, if it’s hit with a projectile it is tragic.

Yes. It immediately becomes a mass grave.

Gvozdika shoots at 15 km, that is, you can not have direct clashes with the enemy?

Artillery is protected by infantry. There was a moment when we we working at 4 km from the enemy.

What are your main targets?

Columns, DRG [sabotage and reconnaissance groups]. Once the DRG came out, and ours also went on a reconnaissance. And they got on DRG. And we worked 4 km from them. It was fun there.

Are you on vacation now?

This is not a vacation. The let me go for a while to be with my children so that I could see them. Because one of my children is 7 years old, he went to the first grade, and second will be 4 years old in May.

What is happening at the frontlines?

Now where we are, thank God, still quiet. I think we will be thrown somewhere else – where we will work and fight the enemy.


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