Saturday, 16 April 2016
A pleasure, and indeed an honour, to shake hands last night with Lieutenant Colonel Olexandr Suraikin, commander of the Helicopter Squadron of Ukraine's 10th Maritime Aviation Brigade.
Following the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, he managed to fly out, under Russian guns, an anti-submarine helicopter that had just been upgraded to the highest level. It was very important that this machine did not fall into Russian hands.
For this incredible feat, Colonel Suraikin is recognised as one of the true heroes of Ukraine.
Last night we met with him at the Ukrainian embassy in Brussels, having seen a screening of the movie “Crimea: How it was”, created by the Ukrainian film studio Babylon’13, and directed by Konstantin Kljatzkin, who was also present. The film featured Colonel Surakin, and many others who on land, sea, and in the air have resisted the Russian aggression.
Colonel Suraikin is a quiet, modest, and very focussed man, who explains his feats by saying that he is simply doing his duty as an officer of the Ukrainian military.
Having myself served with 23 & 56 Squadrons of the Royal Air Force, both amongst the most highly regarded fighter squadrons in the history of the RAF, I would say that the 10th Maritime Aviation Brigade have a top class C.O. in Olexandr Suraikin.
We wish him, and those under his command, safe passage, and ultimate victory!