Igor Strelkov: From Makeevka, to bare this part of the front and in case of an unexpected attack to put the militia into an extremely tight situation. So the frontline had to be moved back. And after the Ukraine side had refused to fulfil the agreement about the demarcation line the fighting for the airport started.
Anchor: Let’s show it on the map where everything is situated.
Igor Strelkov: Here’s the administrative complex of the airport, the terminals, other buildings. The runaway/airstrip goes north – into the direction of Opitnoe, where it says Air defence systems. This is where the Ukraine army is based. In fact there’s never been much artillery in the airport.
Anchor: This is a very common opinion of all war experts who we’ve heard before, that it’s very convenient to shell Donetsk from the airport.
Igor Strelkov: In summer, in July and beginning of August, Donetsk was shelled from the airport’s territory. Mobile guns came close to the terminal and fired at the centre of the city from a quite short distance. But in the last 2 month their was not any heavy armament apart from Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. All the shelling was coming from the town of Opitnoe. Here it is on the map. The artillery was in the centre of it and only firing corrections were being done from the airport’s tower.
Anchor: As far as I understand there’s no tower anymore?
Igor Strelkov: No, the tower was destroyed by a few tank shots and it fell down.
Anchor: Now we can see what’s left from the airport, the ruins of its infrastructure. Your opinion why did Kiev decide to give this place up? Lots of people say, this is kind of a symbol, a trophy. The Azov battalion’s Facebook page says that it was similar to Stalingrad for them it was the Pavlov’s House. Why did they decide to retreat now?
Igor Strelkov: There was not any retreat. The airport was taken 4 days ago. It was stormed by the militia units Sparta and Somali. For a day and a half little surrounded groups were being cleaned up in the underground areas and the ground floor. There was no such thing as Ukraine Army retreat. Part of it ran off during the assault all the rest were taken prisoner.
Anchor: Only yesterday Turchinov was about to go to the airport to check the situation so he could make some decisions. Who does make such decisions, whether to give up some object or not?
Igor Strelkov: You can’t give up an object if it has already been taken! In fact everything that Ukraine Army or politicians say has to be divided not just by 2 or 4 but by 10! Or sometimes it has nothing to do with reality! The fact is, the Ukraine side has gotten into the trap having proclaimed the airport to be a key objective and having given it so much importance. After it has fallen, all they can do is to keep up appearances.
Anchor: The poll is on the screen. Conducted among the viewers of RBK TV on rbk.ru. Resulting opinion on “Giving up the Donetsk airport” is:
– The militia’s victory—34.8%
– Kiev’s tactical ploy—12.0%
– No surrender occurred, fight will start again—53.2%
Unfortunately the last one is the most popular opinion of our audience. What do you think? Is the fighting going to start again?
Igor Strelkov: Actually the fighting in the airport area never stopped. The airport is not an island in the ocean. It is only one of the tactical points in the Donetsk outskirts where the fighting is going on. Fighting is going on in Avdeevka and Peski which are Donetsk’s suburbs. All distances are small. All distances there are quite short. We will be able to speak about the end of the fighting when the fighting stops in these places.
Anchor: There has been a ceasefire. It was disrupted from both sides, but nevertheless we could see growing intensity of military actions since January 9. Who do you think disrupted it and why is it happening? Why is it impossible to hold up the truce?
Igor Strelkov: Since the Minsk agreements the truce has not been observed for a single day. Even on the quietest days, New Year’s celebrations, local shootings took place.
Igor Strelkov: For one simple reason—the Ukraine side has never seen the ceasefire as binding for them. They only had a very practical military take on it. I have spoken of it many times.
Anchor: So you think the Minsk agreements were a mistake?
Igor Strelkov: I am not going to criticise the Minsk agreements but I will answer the previous question. The Ukraine side only saw the Minsk agreements as a opportunity for re-grouping and re-arming. They have never hidden their intentions to go on with the military actions. So the Minsk agreements, from the military point of view, were only beneficial to the Ukraine side which was on the verge of a crushing defeat in September.
Anchor: Did the they reach this goal?
Igor Strelkov: Yes they did to the extent it could be done. They managed to form the south part of the front practically from scratch. The part from Donetsk to Mariupol which was non-existent at the time of the Minsk agreement. They managed to rotate their forces, top up human and technical resources to numbers exceeding the ones from before Minsk.
Anchor: How could they do it? Who helped them? Because the Ukraine army’s condition is quite pathetic. And why didn’t the airports of Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhje work?
Igor Strelkov: They were closed for 2-3 days to receive arms. Large numbers of Western manufactured arms. Mostly Anti-Tank weapons have been delivered. Particularly a great number of Anti-Tank systems «Javelin» which is extremely dangerous for any modern armoured vehicles.
Anchor: What is your opinion of the Normandy format of negotiations? And what do you think has to happen to stop the war on Donbass?
Igor Strelkov: For the war to stop it is necessary for Ukraine to stop wanting to wage it. At the moment there is a very obvious misbalance between the Russia’s intentions and the Ukrainian ones. Ukraine does not agree to any sort of peaceful settlement. They are going to wage the war and are not hiding their intentions. Anything else they do, is done only for tactical reasons. What is beneficial for them. If they get defeated at the front again, they will try to have a truce again, but will not stop preparing for war.
Anchor: Well another try for the truce took place yesterday in Berlin where the leaders of the Normandy Four gathered. The director of the Institute of Political Research and Member of the Public Chamber, Sergey Markov joins us from the Hotel Park Hyatt. Sergey Alexandrovich, could you comment on the Berlin meeting? How real do you think is the withdrawal of the heavy arms from the demarcation line? Is it going to work this time or not again?
Sergey Markov: In the first place I’d like to greet Igor Strelkov, a courageous man who has become a Russian Che Guevara in 2014. Unfortunately he had to be a part of this conflict aimed at the eradication of the Russian world. As far as the withdrawal is concerned the chances of it are increasing because Kiev has been defeated. At the same time it looks like military actions in process now do not use all the firepower both sides have. That is why both sides, especially Ukraine are contemplating this.There is no doubt that Novorossia has to push back the Ukraine army away from Donetsk because of the never ending shelling of the civilian areas and infrastructures which has created a humanitarian catastrophe. The DPR leaders can not let it go on. One of the reasons is that the population will stop supporting them politically and stop trusting them if they are not able to defend the civilian population. They have to go forward. Because Kiev cannot stop this push back of its army by the NAF I think it is going to agree to the temporary truce and make believe it wants to withdraw the heavy arms. But in fact the heavy arms are not going to be withdrawn. You have to realise that Poroshenko whose orientation for this peace is practically dismissed from the real powers the key force structures obedient to Turchinov. A war criminal, who on April 16th, after a secret visit by the Head of the CIA, ordered the war on Donbass. That is why he will go on following the same orders and the task is to crush NAF!
Anchor: What is the purpose? What is Poroshenkos aiming at?
Sergey Markov: Not Poroshenko. Poroshenko wants peace. But he has practically no power and has to manoeuvre. Their aim is to oppress Donbass forcefully, to make it join Ukraine without any political rights. This will make Ukraine into an enemy of Russia to be used to start a war against Russia. I am sure that ships are being prepared to deliver forces into Crimea. One battalion has already been named «Kuban». I am sure that «Right Sector» is preparing fighters out of silly young patriotic students to do acts of terror on the Russian territory, on Busses, Subways, etc. This devilish plan I am sure exists. Our task is to stop it.
Anchor: How can you stop this plan? Are you of the same opinion about the topic of Crimea?
Igor Strelkov: I am 100% sure, if Ukraine defeats LPR and DPR, it will immediately start armed provocations against Crimea. This is something very obvious and they don’t hide it.
Anchor: Right. What can the militia do against this plan and does it have enough support?
Igor Strelkov: I believe that militia of DPR and LPR alone are not capable of withstanding all the combined forces of the Ukrainian Army, all its resources, which are being topped up by the West either with arms, instructors and money. Without the support from Russia LPR and DPR will not be able to hold on if the Ukraine Army launches a massive attack.
Anchor: What should this support be like?
Igor Strelkov: I actually think that Russia should defend the Novorossia’s population to the maximum.
Anchor: Bring in Troops?
Igor Strelkov: Yes if it’s needed. For one simple reason. This war has to be stopped. The war will stop only when the Kiev junta is demolished. I have always called it a junta. They are war orientated and my deepest belief is that one side wants to wage a war. It does not matter how many peaceful propositions are made—it will be just casting pearls to swines.
Anchor: What support is the militia getting now? Is it enough?
Igor Strelkov: I would not like to discuss this question because I do not want to get into the area of competence of people who are dealing with Novorossia. It’s been a while since I left… sadly.
Anchor: What are you doing now?
Igor Strelkov: Me and my friends are dealing with humanitarian supply as much as we can. So it is non-state support of Novorossia’s population and militia with the things that help them survive.
Anchor: One more thing that has to be discussed is the Explosion at the bus stop in Donetsk. We would like to hear your opinion on the subject. Who could have done it? Is it difficult to prove who blew it up?
Igor Strelkov: In this case I cannot comment anything myself because I am not there. But I will refer to my Military friend’s opinion General Petrovsky, the Head of DPR’s Intelligence service who I am trying to be in touch with. He assured me that it was an act of terror fulfilled by one of 5 diversion groups that had got into Donetsk 2-3 days ago. 3 of the groups have been eradicated, 2 are still acting according to yesterday’s information. The standard Ukraine tactics were used, the one they used in Slavyansk where a camouflaged civilian car is used to shoot 182mm Mortars.
Anchor: If the militia pushes the demarcation line back, will it prevent tragedies such as this?
Igor Strelkov: There’s no guarantee such tragedies wont occur, but you have to keep in mind that people are dying every day even without the diversion groups.
Anchor: What was this diversion for? To slow down the peace process?
Igor Strelkov: In fact the Ukrainians do not even consider the peace process yet. For them any provocation, any death is convenient and beneficial. Everything will be blamed on the militia anyway. In their opinion we ourselves are shelling our cities. You just have a look at their mass media.
Anchor: Thank you very much for your commentaries.