"I am not sorry for anything": the story of Vladyslav Lytvynenko from Azov with the call sign "Vektor" who died in Mariupol

"I am not sorry for anything": the story of Vladyslav Lytvynenko from Azov with the call sign "Vektor" who died in Mariupol

Vladyslav "Vektor" Lytvynenko was a serviceman of the "Azov" regiment, a radio operator of a special intelligence group. Before starting the military service, Vladyslav studied at the Kyiv Regional Professional School of Construction. During his student years, he took part in the Revolution of Dignity.  

In 2015, he joined one of the volunteer units with which he fought in the village of Pisky in the Donetsk region; later, he joined the "Azov" regiment. In the battalion, Vladyslav took part in the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne offensive operation, and as a result the Ukrainian military liberated Shyrokyne, Berdianske, Lebedynske, Kominternove and Pavlopil in the Donetsk region and moved the front line 20 km from Mariupol.

On March 23, 2022, during a full-scale war, Vladyslav Lytvynenko was killed by artillery fire near the drama theater in Mariupol while on a combat mission.

Svidomi spoke with Vladyslav's mother Vira Lytvynenko about his childhood, millitary service in "Azov," and fights for Mariupol.

“If not me, then who?”

Vladyslav Lytvynenko was born in a small village in the Donetsk region, and spent his school years in Mariupol, and later his family moved to the Kyiv region. Vladyslav’s mother Vira says that the boy was active, lively, and imaginative since childhood.

"Every stick was a gun. I always bought him various encyclopedias, but his favorites were about weapons and dinosaurs," says Vira Lytvynenko.

Vladyslav was doing various sports: karate, freestyle wrestling, swimming, Thai boxing, and chess. "I took him to different clubs so that he could choose what he liked the most," says the soldier's mother.

When Vladyslav was 19, the Revolution of Dignity began — during the storming of the Ukrainian House in January 2014, he was shot with a rubber bullet.

"He felt injustice, and back in 2011, he said there would be a war. And after the revolution, Donetsk immediately caught fire. It is his native land: he was born there, and his grandmother lives there," says Vira. 

The woman says that her son always had the motivation to defend the country. "When Mariupol was liberated in 2014, he said: "Why wasn't I there?" During the fights for the Donetsk airport, he also asked himself this question. I answered him: "Son, you may be destined to stay alive," says Vira.

In January 2015, Vladyslav decided to join one of the volunteer units and went twice to the Donetsk region to the Pisky village, where he spent two weeks.

"He did not warn us that he went to war. He said he was going to a competition in the Kharkiv region, where there would be no phone signal. We believed because everyone in our family trusts each other," says the soldier's mother.

 "I'm not going there not for a salary or the status of a combatant, I want to defend the country"

After returning from Pisky, Vladyslav passed all the exams and graduated from school, and then he informed his family that he was going to take the military recruit training and join the "Azov" regiment to continue his military service. Vira Lytvynenko could not influence her son's choice. "He was already 20 years old, he was independent. This is what I taught my children," she says.

Vladyslav's mother asked her son whether he would have an official status in "Azov." "He told me that he was going there not because of the salary or the status of a combatant, but to defend the country," says Vira. The boy promised his parents he would soon come back home because he believed the war would end soon. "We probably all thought at the time it would end soon," she adds.

In "Azov," Vladyslav took part in the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne offensive and later fought on the Svitlodarsk Bulge, in Zolote, Hnutove. During his service, he was doing extramural studies at the Kyiv University of Culture at the Faculty of Design and Advertising, studying interior design. "He had absolutely no free time. In the regiment, they trained all time, and then my son took vacations to came home and pass the exams," says Vladyslav's mother.

"Intelligence are the gods of war"

Three years ago, Vladyslav Lytvynenko thought about leaving the regiment. "He said he was old, his back hurt, and he had headaches from post-concussion syndrome. I asked him to be careful, not to overload himself during training," says Vira.

However, in 2019, on the Svitlodarsk Bulge, Vladyslav met the Azov intelligence officers. "He said that if he joined the intelligence, it would be difficult to serve there. This is an elite unit inside the regiment, and everyone who joined it had to understand that it is not a child’s play," says the soldier's mother.

In autumn 2021, Vladyslav warned the commander that he wanted to leave, but the serviceman was asked to wait a few months. "He wanted to do everything right. This autumn, he planned to be home and thought about what he would do in civilian life," says Vladyslav's mother.

Later, in conversations with her son's brothers-in-arms, Vira Lytvynenko found that intelligence officers were highly valued in the regiment and that they did incredible things during the defense of Mariupol. "His fellow soldiers told me that intelligence is the elite of Azov. These are the gods of war," she adds.

"Soon we will have to attack the tanks with sticks"

Vladyslav Lytvynenko called his mother on February 23; he said that he had left Yurivka and warned that he had sent home all his belongings. "Nova Poshta lost this package. His things were never delivered to me. This was my first pain," says the soldier's mother.

During the defense of Mariupol, there was no communication in the city, and when Vladyslav managed to call home, he told his parents that he was "in a place where you can survive a nuclear war." 

"My husband and I began to wonder what kind of place this was and realized that our son was talking about Azovstal," says Vira. He said that there were already street battles, but there were very few weapons. He said that soon they will have to attack Russian tanks with sticks.

In the conversations, the military man also said that the Russians wiped out the Left Bank of Mariupol and asked about the situation near Mariupol. 

"He once asked what the situation was in Volnovakha. I replied that there was fighting in the north. Then he asked if any help was coming to them. After I said that everyone was talking about the de-blockade, he said that he did not regret anything. Those were his last words," says Vira Lytvynenko.

"If he had left earlier, he would still have returned to his unit"

The last time Vladyslav got in touch with his family was March 18-19. Then he was able to text his mother. "He asked if I had received the package. He wrote that he should sleep a bit, but there is a lot of work," says Vira. After this the soldier’s mother will find out how everything went down in Mariupol from his brothers-in-arms.

At first, Vira Lytvynenko could not find Azov soldiers who knew Vladyslav. "I thought, what’s the matter? They served together for 8 years, and no one knows him. Now the boys who lived in the same room with him have been released from captivity," she says.

His fellow soldiers said that Vira’s son was a loyal friend. "They say that if he had left earlier, he would still have returned to his unit. They are convinced that Vlad would have reached the surrounded Mariupol by any means to fight side by side with his brothers," adds Vira.

Vira Lytvynenko says that all Azov servicemen are motivated to defend their native land.

"When a photo exhibition was being prepared on Sophia Square to honor the fallen heroes of Azov, their relatives sent the biographies. I read them and understood that all the soldiers were all educated, well-read, sporty, patriotic, and motivated to defend the Motherland," emphasizes Vladyslav's mother.