From 2012 to 2017, Davit Hovhannesyan studied at the Higher Airborne Command School in Ryazan, Russia. Since 2018, he has served in Artsakh within the Drombon Assault Battalion as a platoon commander. From the fourth day of the Artsakh war, which began on September 27, 2020, he was appointed company commander.

From the first day of the war, Davit and his company carried out combat tasks in the directions of Talish, Aghdaban, Mataghis of Martakert region, Shekher village, Shushi and Martuni region.

On November 6, Davit Hovhannesyan was injured in the ruins of Shushi.

After the war, Davit Hovhannesyan wrote the book “The Strange War”, part of which is presented below.

At 7:35 a.m., September 27, 2020

I woke up to the call. It was Rob’s phone. Rob’s fiancée was calling from Stepanakert. The girl’s scream could be heard over the phone. Rob kept asking what happened.

Then Rob pulled my arm and said: Stepanakert is being bombed.

We are heading towards the Martakert region, I realize we are going to Mataghis. There were a lot of civilian cars on the road, full of stuff and people.

The peaceful population was fleeing Artsakh. Shells were exploding, truly deadly shells. I thought it was a game, nothing terrible, nothing big, just a projectile. I looked at everything so calmly, as if I had been preparing for it all my life, as if I had lived alongside war all my life.

Is it a war or a conflict like that of 2016?

Above hovered the winged dead, the so-called “suicide bombers,” the Israeli-made Harop drones. There were so many that we didn’t understand where the voice was really coming from. That disgusting, terrible voice that warns you that you are going to die soon.

The head-on shooting and the explosions did not allow us to concentrate and understand what was ultimately happening. I wanted to understand the nature of these military operations, what will happen next – large-scale operations? Or local battles?

Little by little, I began to understand that we would not get out of here alive. The soldiers witnessed such chaos for the first time in their lives. The anxiety gradually subsided. At this point, we don’t even have time to panic. Your brain is working at maximum tension, you have to pull yourself together, otherwise you will die.

Everyone was trying to live. Officers were the only strength and power of a soldier. Even though the officers had also been killed and did not yet know the smell of gunpowder, they were the soldiers’ only hope. The soldiers had to obey them without question and observed their behavior during the battle. The soldiers believed in their commanders. There was no other way out.

So far, everything was going well. We have all become accustomed to this chaos. An hour or two had passed.

I could see the enemy. They wore different clothes. Who are the people in black? They were bearded, without helmets. His head was tied with bandanas. They are incomprehensible people. The shooting did not stop. Their soldiers fell and fell. We destroyed them, and they came and sounded the death knell. I was amazed why they came straight to their deaths like that. As if the brains were turned off.

The enemy, shouting “Allah Akbar”, was approaching us. Another skirmish, but more regular, the exchanges of fire turned into one on one and shooting on target. I fired and watched how the light-reflecting bullets destroyed the enemy defense. What is the point of the defense if it could be violated in this way?

I realized that there was no one other than us in the indicated area. Where are the others ? I was the company commander and began to organize the troop. Everyone gathered in the center of the trench, waiting for the next order. We wanted to escape the death knell and appear near our army in Mataghis, get supplies, rest and finally understand what is happening throughout Karabakh.

We all knew that the enemy had been surrounding us for a long time and that the main heights and the observation post were occupied. This meant the success of our walk was 50/50.

How do we bear this psychological burden? There is no other way. Either you’ll take it or you’ll die of fear. The choice is not great.

…I looked back and sent the boys back from the 101st position. I looked at Vahagn. He stood tall with the night vision device in his hand, looking proudly ahead, as if he wanted to say that he is strong and will not give up.

01.10.2020, at 4:30 a.m.

I woke up. Someone was pulling my arm and calling my name. I opened my eyes and saw Arsen, our company commander, smiling in front of me. Arsen, the commander of our military unit, deputy commander Marat Israelyan, the head of the secret department Irina and several soldiers were separated from us by the road. When the fighting started on the first day, Irina was on the phone with Vlad, the head of her department. Vlad later told that, like during the conversation, the connection was suddenly cut off after a loud explosion.

Most likely, passing tanks fired and blew up the car carrying the secret documents, and Irina was killed. Unfortunately, Irina’s fate is still unknown. Mr. Captain Marat Israelyan, deputy commander of the military unit responsible for technical security, also occupied the 165th position. He had managed to reach the canoe.

Then the following will be clear: Mr. Israelyan was wounded and when he had to retreat from position 165 under fire, the soldiers ran towards Israelyan to help him get out of the position, Israelyan told the soldiers to go check the safety of the road. When the soldiers returned to Israelian, he was no longer alive. The soldiers said Israeli did it specifically so they wouldn’t see how he shot himself. Mr. Israelyan deliberately committed suicide so as not to be captured and become a burden to the soldiers…

Translation from Russian by Lusine Hovhannisyan