Alexandr Chalenko: As far as I know, steppe and thermal-vision devices have made light weapons fights impossible in Novorossia. Because of that the parties can’t get close to each other, so this war is the war of artillery. What’s your opinion about it.
Igor Strelkov: The terrain beyond the urban agglomerations, which are so numerous in Donetsk Republic, is very indented: lots of ravines, heights, tree belts, lows grown with bushes. Lots of mines and waste heaps, which make the area closed.
Now it’s a positional warfare, where there is almost no skirmishes with gunfire, it’s an artillery war.
Alexandr Chalenko: I’ve been told that it’s war in the urban agglomeration, because in the heart of Donbass, leaving one town you etner into another one right away. And there’s civilian population living there…
Igor Strelkov: … understand it, war is war. Population suffered and suffers while the war rages, so the sooner the victory is achieved and the war stops, the sooner civilian population suffering stops.
As for the rest: small group tactics.
Alexandr Chalenko: What does it mean? Explain, please
Igor Strelkov: see, in war history, in war theory, there’s such concept as basic tactical unit, that has to fulfill certain tactical tasks. The more military craft develops, the more combat vehicles are improved, the bigger grows the units’ firepower, the lesser get the tactical units.
Relatively speaking, if one task could be solved by the battalion with its firepower druing the WWI, the same task could be solved by companies during the WWII. Now similar tasks can be solved by mere platoons
In this case, the number of armament and its quality, for example, firing rate, became such, that fire density provided by modern platoon, surpasses or at least is equal to one, that battalion of the WWI could provide
Hence, the large masses of people turn into large targets, basically, that’s what has been shown by the UAF around Slavyansk and Donetsk, when having great numerical superiority and way better equipment Ukrainian troops were helpless before us and suffered heavy losses. Due to their crowdness, because they used to move in large masses, large masses of vehicles, and we have been using it. We used the small group tactics — units up to a platoon or less in numbers. They searched for an enemy, pinned it down and called our artillery, mortar strikes upon it. Because of that enemy suffered very heavy losses comparing to our relatively small casualties.
At the same time, the lesser unit is, the harder it’s to hit it, especially in conditions of suburban and urban areas. Enemy had enormous advantage in vehicles, but he couldn’t implement it, since it was like shooting sparrows with a cannon. It’s useless to use the division of “Grads” against the dispersed infantry team. Maybe someone will get hit, but anyway the efficiency would be really low
Alexandr Chalenko: For example now they can’t take the airport in Donetsk. What’s the problem? Why the fights take so long? What would Igor Strelkov do to take the airport under his control completely?
Igor Strelkov: I wouldn’t storm it at all
Alexandr Chalenko: Why?
Igor Strelkov: What for?
Alexandr Chalenko: Because it was believed before the militias started taking it under their control, that Donetsk had been shelled from the airport territory as well as from Peski and Avdeyevka.
Igor Strelkov: Do you imagine the map for yourself? When you manipulate with such names like Avdeyevka, Peski, airport, you don’t imagine yourselve the connection. Adveyevka is a rather large town with 50 thousand population. Peski’s also a rather big settlement. It’s urban type settlement which is abutting to the city. Airport is located between them on a rather large distance. It’s not a single agglomeration.
Artillery can’t be at the airport, Peski and Avdeyevka at the same time. It’s either in one place or in another.
Alexandr Chalenko: So were there any artillery in the airport?
Igor Strelkov: There were artillery spotters there. Indeed, artillery was deployed in Peski and in Avdeyevka. The thing is that, to take the airport, you should simply eliminate this artillery. Object for the assault has been chosen formally by people, who don’t understand a thing in the military art, it was a strike against the consequence, not the reason. To take the airport they had to eliminate the reason, destroy the artillery positions in Peski and Avdeyevka beforehand. Then airport could be taken without any problems.
And now, we have a situation when all infantry attacks at the airport are being repelled by the barrage of artillery that is out of reach.
Alexandr Chalenko: Okay, why it wasn’t clear to those, who had been planning these operations?
Igor Strelkov: Let’s say that these people don’t differ from you in the level of military knowledge and operation planning much.
Alexandr Chalenko: And Motorola?
Igor Strelkov: Motorola is good soldier, brilliant commander on the platoon level. He fulfills the tasks give to him. In this case we’re dealing with strategic decision, with those, who have thrown Motorola and Givi to fight in the airport to take which, was determined as the priority objective. I don’t know who made such decision. I was absent at that time. It was clear for me that it’s not a proper object from the beginning. Attack at the airport is not only unnecessary, it’s harmful, since the best units for the former Slavyansk brigade got scratched and suffered losses there. Without any sense.
See, once they launch an attack, enemy calls the artillery strike.
Alexandr Chalenko: Do I get it right, that this task is possible to be solved?
Igor Strelkov: Yes it is, but not with the forces of infantry units. They have to act with the support of armored vehicles, but since all the vehicles of Slavyansk brigade have been taken to “Oplot” by Zakharchenko, he decides what to do with them.
Alexandr Chalenko: Many of your critics say that Strelkov — is just a mere FSB lt. colonel, so he has no experience of army operations planning. What can you say about it?
Igor Strelkov: Indeed, I’m an FSB colonel, so I’m fine about it, but generally, I wouldn’t advise to call a military with the rank 1 step lower that he is. For the military, ranks have greater value than for civilians. Basically that’s what military hierarchy is built on.
Of course it was difficult for me to command units and subunits, when army grew there were several thousand men in it, and front has been stretched for dozens of kilometers. Naturally we couldn’t create a solid frontline with such small forces.
Alexandr Chalenko: Do you have an army experience of leading such units?
Igor Strelkov: I don’t have such experience, I had experience as a commander of small units, but happened to plan the special operations for 80-100 men. I used to be an operative in field of anti-terrorist operations in Chechnya. I happened to take part in many operations, but to command directly — no. Maximum that I happened to command before were joint operative group of 150 men, for a couple of months in 2005.
And again, units didn’t subordinate to me directly, it was only an operative subordination. I only gave them tasks, which they planned and executed on their own. Now, often, I didn’t understand completely how to organize a certain operation, but instead I had a clear and strict understanding of what I wanted to achieve in this operation.
So, I set the tasks and goals, that had been achievable and they were achieved. Thanks to that, we practically succeeded all enemy plans that were aimed to encircle and eliminate us.
I really lacked the chief of the staff, who could explain what I wanted to soldiers in detail. Basically, all army commanders of high ranks are divided into two categories: chiefs and chiefs of staff. Commander makes a decision, chief of the staff develops it, divides into subtasks. Both job is completely necessary. Far not always good chief of the staff is able to command troops well. And vice versa. For example, it was told about Zhukov in one of his characteristics, that he was a brilliant commander but hates the staff work. Naturally, I don’t compare myself with Zhukov, but, frankly speaking, dislike the staff work too, even more I simply don’t know how to do it. Instead I have a deep understanding of the essence of the guerrilla warfare. I knew qualities of all my units, what they could and what they could not.
At that moment our army was a partisan army. In many aspects it’s still such. It’s not a regular army.
Alexandr Chalenko: What are the differences between them?
Igor Strelkov: On the one hand they’re way more initiative than usual army. On the other hand their discipline is weaker. They solve tasks that regular army overcomes with great efforts. For example to move fast, maneuver, act in field without supplies. These are advantages of the partisan army.
On the other hand they don’t kine sitting in trenches, don’t like sitting in defense, I mean in bad conditions. They’re difficult to lead for those they don’t trust to.
In my opinion, a serious mistake is being made now, when the b regular armies of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics are being built. When they disband already formed units, take from one unit to another. They’re expecting to achieve discipline and subordination to people, who are assigned from above formally. But the army, in its essence, is still a volunteer army. There are no mobilized there. And to arrange without taking this specifics, the formed traditions, into account brings serious harm, since people are losing their motivations. They don’t trust their new commanders, those, who they don’t know.
Alexandr Chalenko: When I’ve been to Donetsk recently, I talked to soldiers from you Slavyansk brigade. I asked them, who were Igor Strelkov for them. They answered “He is like own father to us”. They’re looking forward for your return. And from other soldiers, I found out that about 200 men of your brigade joined “Vostok” brigade after your arrival to Donetsk. They allegedly were from Kramatorsk. Why did they leave you?
Igor Strelkov: You know, it’s a classical example when journalists uses info from OBS “Odna Babka Skazala” [“One Granny Told”] agency.
Alexandr Chalenko: So it has never happened?
Igor Strelkov: 200 men didn’t leave me. One mortar battery joined “Vostok” in the moment of the crisis around Shakhtyorsk. Later returned us the mortars, but soldiers stayed in “Vostok”, they were sent to Shakhtyorsk to support Tsar’s battalion [ed. Tsar — Vladimir Kononov’s callsign]
They’ve got persuaded by someone that we were abandoning Donetsk and they’ve heard that Khodakovsky promised to defend Donetsk until his last drop of blood. They decided to join him because thought that he wouldn’t retreat for sure.
Alexandr Chalenko: They were locals.
Igor Strelkov: Well, yes, our brigade consisted of locals on 90%. It’s a particular example of what the rumors might be.
Units left Kramatorsk by the order of their direct commanders, thinking that they were executing my order, and part of the commandant company left to Izvarino and has been holding corridor there. In my turn, I though that they were all deserters. Later I found out that turns out they were deceived by their commanders, who later appeared on the Russian territory. That…
Alexandr Chalenko: Babay?
Igor Strelkov: Babay. That’s a one rather anecdotic character. But that’s the specifics of the partisan warfare: constant revolts and rebellions.
Alexandr Chalenko: And why haven’t you got in a good terms with other militia commanders — Zakharchenko, Khodakovsky? I even remember that your comrades wrote about them, that they were going to surrender Donetsk …
Igor Strelkov: You can’t make everyone silent [ed. Igor Ivanovich uses idiom here, literally it’s “You can’t cover every mouth with shawl”]. My comrades are free to say whatever they want to. I’ve never said anything like that myself. Though, indeed it looked like the town might be surrendered.
Get me right, when Slavyansk brigade, all ragged, dirty, right from the trencehs entered Donetsk city… people had been fighting for several months, constant shellings every day and night. And so they enter Donetsk. There’s a Kiev government assigned mayor sitting there, no one touches him. Ukrainian police patrols the roads with the state cap badges. And “Vostok” with “Oplot” just stand on the checkpoints. And there are no barricades. You can enter the town. Vehicles would enter and no one would stop it. Donetsk hadn’t fight then and no one was preparing to.
I got an impression, that before our withdrawal from Slavyansk, Ukrainian side didn’t even plan to storm Donetsk, they thought that it would return back to them without a fight.
Alexandr Chalenko: Are these only you impressions, or you had a more precise info that Donetsk had been prepared to be surrendered to Ukraine without a fight?
Igor Strelkov: I’ve never had any precise info about it. Especially when they say that I’ve exchanged Slavyansk for Donetsk, that’s a completely false opinion. I exited Slavyansk not because I wanted to seize Donetsk. Furthermore, I didn’t want to go to Donetsk, commanders who stayed there had been fighting each other. I didn’t want to get into this cloaca, but I had to do it.
There was Russian Orthodox Army split in two acting there. Each part had about 100-150 men. There was “Oplot”, there was “Vostok”, there were Cossack units. There were Bezler’s men. There was a miners’ division, there was “Kalmius” battalion. No one subordinated to no one and didn’t cooperate with each other. Some of them took part in combats, some not. There was a small unit that subordinated to me.
Alexandr Chalenko: You said that you didn’t want to enter Donetsk, where did you want to go after leaving Slavyansk in this case?
Igor Strelkov: I meant that I didn’t want to enter Donetsk to seize power there. That’s what I was talking about. We left Slavyansk because we had to, to avoid the defeat. We had already really been in the complete tactical encirclement. There was the last tiny gap left, the last dirt road, which was uncomfortable and shot through. It could be bloked any moment.
We practically had no artillery rounds. Had no shells for mortars. We had problems with anti-tank weapons. We still had some ammo for the small arms. But the problem was that, that enemy has practically stopped using infantry against us after the fights near Yampol where they suffered heavy losses.
Alexandr Chalenko: And the artillery war started….
Igor Strelkov: Artillery and tanks had been effective to use against us when we had nothing to answer them with. While we had mortar shells and artillery rounds we could hold them somehow. But at the moment we left Slavyansk I had 57 mortar shells. By that moment I had two tanks, but I had less than 1 allowance of ammunition per tank, there were about 35 rounds overall. That’s now a war. Enemy had about 100 armored vehicles, about 30 tanks among them, at the Nikolayevka direction only. There was a completely equipped battalion-tactical group with means of enforcement and massive artillery support. And they strictly used tactics under Nikolayevka. Our grenade launchers failed, more than 20 GLs, all failed. They simply forced our militias into the town and started shelling them with artillery. 5-floor buildings were destroyed to the ground. Armor and artillery. The same situation could repeat in Slavyansk. Taking enemy advantage into consideration we were able to cause them losses only maneuvering all the time. As I said, the small group tactics. When we had no place for a maneuver we could go into defense. In stationary position, when we got surrounded with mine fields and razorwires we couldn’t cause them any serious losses.
Alexandr Chalenko: Let’s dispel another myth of the “OBS” news agency. I’ve heard such a pretension to you in Donetsk, that, when leaving Slavyansk, you didn’t destroy the arms depots.
Igor Strelkov: I simply can’t comment such nonsense. When we were leaving we hadn’t got anything left. We had 6 rounds for our joint artillery division of 9 guns. Which depots? Everything we got via “voentorg”, everything we managed to find in other sources, everything had been sent into fight right away.
Khodakovsky and Zakharchenko had depots. From time to time we had to ask them something for our artillery and tanks.
Alexandr Chalenko: And did they give it to you?
Igor Strelkov: Gave. but not to me, to commanders who got supplies via personal contacts. Zakharchenko used to be subordinate to me at first, until he wasn’t assigned a prime-minister. Khodakovsky didn’t cooperate. Categorically. Simply hadn’t engage in any contact. And since I had other tasks than taming rebellious officers. They sat somewhere — and fine with that. Defended their section — and fine with that. God grant that they would defend it on.
Alexandr Chalenko: Which advantages and disadvantages does the Ukrainian army have?
Igor Strelkov: stable in defense. The very same Russian soldiers. Though they think of themselves as some ancient Ukrs, Ukrainians, or who knows what else. In fact, they are Russian people. They are unpretentious, ready to endure hardships. Basically, all the qualities of the Russian soldier. Fail to see any other strong points in Ukrainian army.
Everything else — result of 23 years of ruination, the same as we had, multiplied on their mentality. Their chiefs… out of any critics. Middle officers — more or less.
Alexandr Chalenko: It’s believed that there were private military companies fighting against you in Slavyansk. Was it so?
Igor Strelkov: can’t say that they were fighting…
Alexandr Chalenko: But they had been there?
Igor Strelkov: they had.
Alexandr Chalenko: Which ones? Polish? American?
Igor Strelkov: I’ve been told about Poles. But also that there weren’t only the Poles there. Again, when you don’t have the corpses with documents you can talk about it very approximately. Why I say that there were PMC troops on Karachun is because I we had messages from Andreyevka, closest village, residents that they went down there to the local shops. Residents told that they were Poles. But they served only as observers and sentry. Maintained thermal vision devices and guarded ATO HQ and HQs of the units that fought against us in Slavyansk. But whether they were on the front lines or not… to prove that we had to achieve a serious military victory capturing enemy territory.
Alexandr Chalenko: Why such little number of locals has been enlisted to your brigade?
Igor Strelkov: Volunteers hadn’t been provided with rifles, nor with boots, nor with uniforms. I had nothing to arm people with. And basically volunteers are always few. Consider the example of the previous Civil War. There were extremely small number of volunteers from both sides. The one who succeeded to conduct mobilization more effectively won. Why did the Reds [ed. Red Army, Bolsheviks] win? Because in critical moment they had more resources that allowed them to conduct the mass mobilization. Yes, they were extremely unstable troops that had been surrendering all the time, but they always had new ones to put instead. Soviet government got all the main arm depots of the Russian Empire. The main military factories happened to be on the territory they controlled. And the most imporant — the apparatus of the former Tsar army got into their hands. Military specialists and all institutions.
In Donbass it’s the same picture as always. And if, God forbid, the war starts in Russia, exactly the same is going to happen. Most of people don’t want war and don’t want to fight And that’s how it should be. Imagine if everyone wanted to fight, what would happen. Some nightmare. Nothing like that is ever going to happen and thank God for that.
But if on a one fine day you get a summon letter you’ll have to go to the recruitment office regardless whether you want it or not. You’ll have a choice: ten years of jail, or, you’re welcome: pack your things and ahead to war. Basically, that’s the way Ukrainian army is mobilized now. Nobody wants to fight there too, but they’re mobilized and sent to fight.
If I had enough weapons and specialists in Donetsk, I would launch the mobilization. First thing that minister of defense had to do was the mobilization. But I had no resources at all. So we had to take only the volunteers, but we hand’t got enough equipment even for the all volunteers. By moment I left Donetsk I still had 150 unarmed men, however I had already had several thousand men army. As far as I know 27 or 28 thousands enlisted in May. They were ready to fight in militia. But there was nothing to arm them with.
I had to assign them a commander, but commanders didn’t come. Most of the reservist officers, the soviet among them, evaded.
Like in Russian in 1991, when they surrendered their own state. Practically no one stood up for then.
Alexandr Chalenko: Excuse me, but you hadn’t stand up then either.
Igor Strelkov: Excuse me, I hadn’t been an officer then too. I was a student. By that time I hadn’t even taken the oath, but they had.
There was a very little number of officers in Slavyansk.
Alexandr Chalenko: Have you talked to them?
Igor Strelkov: Yes. At first the Afghanistan Veterans Union came. 24 men came. 6 officers among them. They told that “Yes, we are ready to serve. At the barricades close to house, that it”. I answered “No, thanks. The ones who enlist will be serving as in the army, because I don’t need those who would stand on the barricades. I need people who would be ready to follow orders”. 3 men came back on the next day, only one officer among them. Everyone else decided that it wasn’t comfortable for them.
Alexandr Chalenko: When In Ukraine they say that NATO will be arming Ukrainian army with their weapons, how serious is such info? Because Soviet and NATO standards are different. They’ll have to re-educated, re-train. And NATO armament supplies cost a lot.
Igor Strelkov: I think they won’t be rearming. They don’t need it. They have plenty of any vehicles. Enough for 3 more wars like this one. Besides, now the arms depots in Poland and Hungary are opened for them.
Alexandr Chalenko: Soviet vehicles.
Igor Strelkov: Poles, Czechs, Hungarians will be rearming, switching to the NATO standards.
Alexandr Chalenko: What’s, in ideal, is required to defeat the Ukrainian army, after all?
Igor Strelkov: It’s impossible to achieve victory fighting half-heartedly [ed. literally, “half-fighting, or 1/4-fighting”]. To defeat Ukrainian army you have to fight. Ukraine, even in its pitiable condition has way more resources than DPR and LPR. Donetsk and Luhansk Republic won’t be able to defeat Ukraine on their own.
Translated from Russian by: Kazzura Original: PolitNavigator
Conversation between chief editor of “Tomorrow” Mr. Prokhanov and Mr. Igor Strelkov, former Defense Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic.
Igor, the other day I was in New Russia. And returning, he began to believe the witness what war is. Turns out, the sixteenth. Starting with Damansky, Dzhalanashkol, Afghanistan … Donetsk, Lugansk – sixteenth campaign. And each of these wars is not even his face (which is like a person – every war). And this is some substance that has its subjectivity, its destiny, its development, its memory. Do you feel that war has some features that go beyond the technology of war? How would you describe the Donetsk war in its phases, stages, experiences?
This is my fifth war. There were two Chechen, Transnistria and Bosnia. I want to emphasize its similarity – scenic similarities – from the Bosnian war. Start of the Bosnian war is very similar to what happens in the New Russia. When Yugoslavia broke up and began the parade of sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, some regions did not want to go to the Muslim Croat Federation and revolted. These republics Bosnian Muslims, Croats suppressed by armed force. And then to help them come Yugoslav People’s Army, but was stopped by Sarajevo under Vukovar, Dubrovnik under. Stopped not because they met serious resistance, but because it could cause the direct intervention of NATO. The army was withdrawn and left their weapons to the Serbs. Now the situation is very similar. And God forbid that it just ended. Because when the JNA left, the Serbs could not organize. Then there was a very long, exhausting war. And then she quickly ended – Croatia defeated each in turn.
But there is the factor of violence. NATO troops and the troops began bombing … And this war as developed in phases?
At first, no one wanted to fight. The first two weeks were held under the banner of the fact that both sides wanted to convince each other. First days in Slavic and we and they are very cautious approach to the use of weapons. The first encounter was with the SBU, which we tried to clean up, but fell into an ambush. Not even quite an ambush, and head-on collisions, to which they were not prepared. Suffered losses and cleaned. Then it was quiet. Ukrainian side began to put roadblocks in our surroundings appeared 25 airmobile brigade. But she was not eager to fight. We managed to disarm first reconnaissance platoon, then the column. It was precisely disarmament – a submachine gun, threatened with burning equipment, they did not dare to join the fight and we were disarmed.
But still a long time we did not touch their roadblocks, and they do not show aggression. These are the first steps.
Then “right quadrant” started throwing us subversive groups – started a firefight. More National Guard under was not – only the “right quadrant.” The Ukrainian side very carefully behaved, step by step palpated as Russia will behave. The first month was not the shelling of the city. The first firing Slavic – at the end of May. Before they shelled the villages, but he did not touch Slovyansk. But as they knew that Russia does not respond, the shelling became more powerful, the actions of armored vehicles and aircraft – more and more massive. In early June, they were finally convinced that Russia does not directly intervene and let the winds. The first massive attack in the Slavonic was the second of May. Next – using all forces and weaponry – tanks and armored vehicles – they held June 3rd. Between these attacks were fighting, local skirmishes.
June and July were the most severe. If in April and May all went on the increase, that is, to expand the territory of the uprising, we gradually put under control settlements Donetsk Republic, spreading movement, in June, we started to recede. Us from all sides began to draw, enemy forces enormously superior in all respects. And the enemy has become the motivation for military action. Start of fire propagation. And further, the higher the motivation increased.
Battalions of the National Guard began to arrive on the battlefield. They were originally motivated, considered the enemy, that is us, as Moscow’s mercenaries. They were confident. that we are all sent from Russia. And the fact that we Slavyansk 90% were local, donbassovtsy not even want to believe.
In June and July, when the aid was extremely small, the enemy drove the huge forces. Generally the increase was not comparable forces. For example, to us during this time came to 40 volunteers, and 80 came to the enemy machines. What’s in them – is another question. But in each machine – a minimum of man.
In August – at the peak of the crisis – we fought in almost agony. Just feverishly to patch holes, and stopped any breakouts. We were in a full operational environment. And they could not break through it. Besides, we have already started as a classic boiler, cut into smaller boilers. Gradually cut Gorlovka …
You talk about the phase when the left of the Slavic in Donetsk?
Yes. In that phase also had two parts. When we came out of the Slavic in Donetsk, this phase was complete confusion of the Ukrainian side. They had fully registered the script, and we do not fit, mixed them all. And suspiciously smoothly everything went at them in this scenario. Very suspicious.
As for the situation with Slavic …. After the Ukrainian side broke through the front under Yampil, we were already hanging by a thread, plug the hole between me and think it was impossible, for it was not strong enough – at least needed a team. And we did not have a reserve.
And when they took Mykolaivka, we do not have any chances. Would have a chance, if we put massively equipment, weapons. I had three tanks, one of them was completely defective, he did not fire a single shot. Only two tanks were combat-ready. With their help, we smashed one checkpoint. But immediately after the defeat of the enemy roadblock at all checkpoints set of four tanks. In Slavyansk ukrov have had seven blocks, and each – four tanks. Any block ukrov technical armed and largest was the hardest Slavic garrison. At the end of the siege, I had 9 broneedinits, including these two tanks and the enemy on every block – seven or eight units, including four tanks. And I had two alternatives: either to sit in a full siege without supplies or out. Prior to this, the supply to the field the road runs. And when the enemy took Mykolaivka, we are left with a field road, but they cut it if we broke the night on this road, it is already the afternoon they had a post.
Thus, embodiments. Sit in the siege. Ammunition for small arms on good fights I have enough for two days. On average intensity – for a week. After fighting under Mykolaivka left me 8 mortars 57 minutes – less than 10 minutes on the mortar. There was not enough and everything else: on heavy weapons lacked ammunition, worst of all with anti-tank weapons. Fights were serious, spent much, and replenishment has been reported. It was all on July 5. “Vacationer” came after 40 days. We have before their arrival did not last. We would not have enough food. And most importantly – the Ukrainian army did not go to the contact battle. When we are forced upon contact fight, then they were losing. And they have taken since Yampol tactics advancing from line to line, throwing forward without infantry armored vehicles only. Before armored vehicles went barrage. If the armor met with resistance, she departed. Again barrage. Then again, armored vehicles. Again barrage – and again technique.
As a result, they began to Nikolaevka methodically destroy. Struck “hurricanes”, “city”, the heavy artillery. Nobody expected such a massive bombardment. Some five-story building in the city is simply formed. Actual civilian casualties we do not know – they are huge.
After this, the enemy just walked Mykolaivka, and I had to bring the remains of the garrison. It was clear that the same thing happened in Slavic – already without pity his thunder. But I could not answer them because there were no shells. They would have fenced with barbed wire, surrounded by mines, as they did with others, taking them into the ring. And would wait when we’ll die of hunger or, or climb a breakthrough. A breakthrough in such conditions would be accompanied by huge losses, and it is unknown whether or not to succeed. But Slavyansk was the core of our team – and a half thousand people, of whom more than a thousand – fighters. In Kramatorsk were about 400 fighters, Kostyantynivka little more than a hundred, fifty Druzhkovka, in other areas of small garrisons on 20-30-50 people. And I knew that from the outside to me, no one will break. Or “Hold” or “East” I did not obey. In Bezlera that Gorlovka based, at that time there were about 350-400 people. If I could not break the ring with his fifteen hundred, then at least it is something the more I could not. It turned out that if I stay in the siege, then after a while I will impose ukry, then start taking a new city by point. That, in fact, began: I did not have time to go already Artiomovsk captured, where they have their man was. And one day completely cleared the Artiomovsk.
At a time when the output of the Slavic, was already on the second environment with cutting off completely Kramatorsk, Druzhkovka, Konstantinovka. This is the way of why I came out of the Slavic, did not defend Kramatorsk: there is also no ammunition.
Given the deep penetration of the enemy to Artiomovskiy (he already went to the Gorlovka practically in our hinterland was), cling Kramators’k did not make sense. We still would have won three or four days, but the result still would go. Any breakthrough, especially – unorganized, accompanied by losses.
Despite the fact that Slavic we left very organized, we have all the armored group died. A tragic accident. They have been together with artillery, to distract the attention of the fire from the place – from the outskirts of Slavyansk. Then, skipping past all the car column, the last to leave – bringing up the rear. But then load the human factor, and armored group went on a line break.
Not to create a flea market, we have all been divided into six columns. Each column was leaving an interval of half an hour. I made a serious mistake, which came in the second column, and did not stay until the end. I had my reasons: Kramatorsk I immediately turned headquarters. But he had, of course, the last to leave.
This would have happened if I was present at the site. And so it is possible to me to say that the fainthearted, hastened to jump.
In general, our losses could be much higher. But the Ukrainian side at night to fight never liked, so we took full artillery, as well as 90% of infantry units and rear.
We in the ranks were 11 mortars and two “Nona” were on the move. Famous “Nona” had to leave because she though it ukry never knocked out, all was in splinters. Due to wear and tear in her left undercarriage. She always dragged back and forth at the end of the gun and went out of her system. As the soldiers joked Ukrainian units that moved us, she in her life did not shoot as much as in Slavyansk.
So – armored group went directly, and it all burned. Blocked the road. The first tank was blown up by mines, the second tried to go round – fell into a ravine. And the rest were shot grenade launchers. Some people survived – jumped out, broke.
If just came appliances – could somehow act, but the whole armor burned. In Kramatorsk I had three infantry fighting vehicles and two APCs. It’s too little – against us were two mechanized battalion tactical groups and a tank battalion.
And if we are able to operate in the building, then resist the enemy in the open country could not.
In our Yampol fortified broke one day, despite the fact that we dug in there were pillboxes, bunkers. We have a shortage of anti-tank weapons – there were no anti-tank gun. Whether then at least one anti-tank gun, at least one “Rapier” is not broke through our defenses, they would, despite the artillery preparation. But with some “bezotkatkami” we could not fight. I knew that taking the fight on open ground – only to lose people.
You said that your opponent out of the Slavianska was totally unexpected.
Yes, he discouraged them. After all, I had ordered categorical – not hand-slavic. And when I said that is going to come out, I repeated several times ordered not to come out to defend Sloviansk to the last. “You certainly deprotected defending Slavic”. Ask, “What will?” Silence. And I – a thousand people and thousands of their family members. Put them I had no right. So I decided to break.
Here are some more time. When I was in the Crimea during the Crimean events, visited the 35th battery. Powerfully impressed me. Roan – is brilliant, he regained almost all their own. No less impressed by the fact that all the commanders Ukrainian Sevastopol Defense: all admirals, generals, pilots – .Ostavili fled for himself commanders of regiments, battalions. Those killed with the soldiers. And when I was in Slavyansk, decided, or I do not go out at all, or I’ll go with the whole garrison. I decided to go out and find it right.
Deeply convinced that if we did not come out of the Slavic, then could not have retained and Donetsk. When we entered the Donetsk – everything there was great. Sat Kiev mayor, police department is still subordinated to Kiev – a classic dual power. The city was not at all prepared for the defense. Checkpoints are equipped with bad roads are not closed, you can go to have whatever you like. And the forces there were very few, they were fragmented, scattered, no one no one obeyed: Detached army was Russian Orthodox, separately – the battalion “Vostok”, separately – “Hold.” Each unit defended their neighborhood, unified management was not.
The problem was not the point, but the fact that the south was almost engulfed in Donetsk, the enemy occupied Amvrosievka. In principle, it has cut us off from the border. DNR was completely under the control of the enemy. And most of the LC was under the control of the enemy. Acted only item – Izvarino, which moved one of my mouth from Kramatorsk, and they have greatly increased defense there.
And just to Donetsk eventually cut off all of the miner, agglomeration Taraevsky-Shakhtarsk Anthracite. On that site was just a few not very powerful roadblocks and Saur-Tomb. And among them were huge holes where you can enter. Ilovaysk was empty – there was no garrison. In Ospina was no garrison or roadblocks.
Arriving in Donetsk, I left only in headquarters commandant company. One battalion broke in Petrovsky district – the south-western tip, which was empty. The remaining forces, and Kramatorsk, and Slavic, were brought to the team, divided into three battalions and Reconnaissance. They were immediately thrown on Ilovaysk, pockmarks. And I formed the front line.
Of its parts?
It is because of its parts. Because the “Vostok” I did not obey. On personal contacts with them managed to establish cooperation. They defended Yasinovataya district, district Avdeyevka, sand, Karlivka. On Karlovka hodgepodge was: first, there were people Bezlera. Then they left, I had to send his back. Then I ordered the retreat, break out, because they cut off from us, there was no point surrounded by two companies lose.
If we had not formed the southern face, I think that everything would be over very quickly. If we stayed in Slavyansk, then a week later, after a maximum of two, fell to Donetsk. And coming, we held forty days before the arrival of Donetsk “vacationers”. Although the last few days were just desperate. When we came out of Donetsk, then try corridors on Russia in the area of Marinka, Kozhevina, brow. At the same time fought their corridors to supply and cut off Yakov all the enemy’s forces.
We kept a corridor with very heavy losses, lost color Third assault battalion in these battles. When we break through the corridor, in the battles of Marinka lost in killed and wounded 120 people in two days – mostly by artillery fire from air strikes. Killed were more than 30. For me it is huge loss.
And at the moment of breakthrough “vacationers” I was a battalion cap is cut into two parts: the part of defending in the snow, and the part with the reconnaissance, was pressed against the edge, cut off.
Besides, I always had to withdraw from the company in Donetsk, throw on other sites. For example, the first company of my miners and antitank platoon had to throw in Debaltseve. Then the same thing had to do with the red beam. Then the fighting started under Ilovaiskaya. At the time of the breakthrough we were separated so that I and the military police went into battle – in Shahtersk fought. In Donetsk, from our Slavic brigade remained virtually only one battalion of two companies, which covered the Petrovsky district. Battalion Kamenska also almost all gone from Donetsk. And left rear: supply, commandant company, which mainly consisted of old and untrained, the combat value of which could only be in the city in street battles, and not in active combat.
Some provisions were in “Hold” and “East”, but “Stronghold” I obeyed partially “East” did not obey. Reproached me that I was not there navёl order. But I had a simple choice when I went from the Slavic either urgently to form a front against the enemy, or to organize a coup. But Donetsk at the time was quite peaceful city. People sunbathing, swimming, athletes trained people in a cafe drinking coffee. As in Moscow in the summer, and in Donetsk was. And I have no one understood. Although my soldiers were eager to arrest all those rear, to disperse. But I understood: it is necessary to deploy a civil war – there is something all of us and slam! I decided that a bad peace is better than a good war, and deliberately left out of it.
Have been in this critical situation and intention to withdraw from Donetsk, forces were unequal something again?
I have the same charge that I wanted to leave Donetsk. I told him honestly at some point, I stopped believing that help will come from Russia in general. Just stop believing! And no one could I guarantee it.
Critical moment for me, as commander, was at the time a breakthrough in Shahtersk. When they knocked us out Debaltseve and just reinforced column of the 25th Brigade went to the Ukrainian Shakhtarsk, entered the city. When they took Debaltseve, I already knew that the next breakthrough will make on Shakhtarsk. I took off the front, that is isolated from other battalions, two companies. And they stood on the loading. And at a time when the enemy entered the Shakhtarsk, one of my company moved there, and the other was on the loading drive there. Accordingly, immediately after that, I took two more companies, then another one, sent back armored group “Hold,” that is created grouping. At the same time I was laid bare Donetsk. Because I was sure that if the enemy and finds itself in Donetsk, here on the streets we somehow it will delay and pass Shakhtarsk – meant completely lose everything.
Since we had a semi-guerrilla army, we were loaded long. Moved too long. All volunteers – family, they were removed from the Slavic. And we are only partially managed to forestall them. One company still entered Shakhtarsk and gave him to take. But ukry cut the road between the miner and Thorez. Then they were off this road barely beat.
Fights have been a whole week, the King commanded – Kononov. That’s why I supported his candidacy for the post of defense minister – as a battalion commander, he showed himself very well. He had a reinforced battalion. Four Slavic company, my company of military police, armored group “Hold” batteries … all this he normally maneuvered. Knocked the 25 Brigade, crushed it with a fairly small losses on their part.
At a time when the enemy cut the road between Miner and Teresa, I have come a psychological crisis, I started thinking about what to do, thinking of transferring headquarters in Shakhtarsk or snow and prepare the evacuation of Donetsk. Because he knew that if aid is not, then you should at least save people.
You do not have the time characterized as psychological change. I followed closely the processes, the dynamics of your performance and maybe the dynamics of your destiny. And I think that you did everything correctly. Did everything right! Based on the real balance of power, otherwise you could not do that. On the other hand, everything that you have done – is messianic feat.
Why do I say that the fracture was? Because at the time I ordered the cook to the headquarters of coagulation, all shtabnikam loaded. People do not discuss my orders because I believed. And I myself went to Shakhtarsk forward. But at this point the road was cut. I spent the whole day there and talked with the men looked. During the day, I almost did not manage Miner’s Brigade, saw that the King of normal coping and intervene with the commander did not want to. By the evening, talking to people, I decided not to leave Donetsk, although this is not planned to leave first Donetsk and Gorlovka. And due to Gorlovka garrison cover northern FAS Donetsk and line on Shakhtarsk. Because we have there was a large, undisguised hole. But there still played a role that was Gorlovka Boatswain, and he defended Gorlovka. Boatswain went absolutely right: it is my order to prepare the evacuation did not obey. And the next day the order was canceled by itself. I realized that in the situation that has developed, we can arrange to withdraw its troops from Donetsk neither, nor from Gorlovka. We cut off the last road and field roads are very uncomfortable. I personally presented the evacuation of Donetsk and Gorlovka – columns of refugees were shot on the roads from all sides. Understand that it is better to take the fight in Donetsk, than all these breakthroughs. In the evening I returned to Donetsk and has, despite the gravity of the situation, did not plan any transfer of staff, nothing.
This I answered the question, whether there was a plan for Donetsk. Plan was not putting in Donetsk, and the intention of leaving Donetsk as an option to output and rescue, effort and money.
Alignment of the front and roll Mariupol – it’s only the “vacationers” do, or militias also participated?
Separate divisions militia were subordinated to them. But mainly in Mariupol advancing “vacationers”. When they left, remained precarious and the front line, and opportunities.
Firstly, Mariupol was empty, there was no two days Ukrainian military could take without a fight. But there was an order not to occupy. Not just the order to stop, and the order in any case does not hold. Just Volnovakha could take.
Why do I say that events similar to events in extreme: there Yugoslav People’s Army stopped just a step to a decisive victory.
Igor Ivanovich, how do you do in the war dived?
I was a counselor in the Crimea Aksenov. He is a man of great charisma, clever, competent, sane, talented. I commanded the only unit of the Crimean militia: a special purpose company, which carried out combat missions. But after the battle of the cartographic part, when two died (and I commanded this fight), a company was disbanded, people went home.
When events took place in the Crimea, it was clear that one Crimea is not over. Crimea as part of New Russia – a huge acquisition, the jewel in the crown of the Russian Empire. And one of Crimea, cut isthmuses hostile state – not the same.
When the Ukrainian authorities broke up before our eyes, in the Crimea constantly arriving delegates from areas of New Russia, who would like to repeat at what was in the Crimea. It was a clear desire to continue the process at all. Delegates at planned uprising and asked for help. Aksenov, because he has such a load fell, it is 20 hours a day working, asked me to engage in the Northern Territory. And he made me an adviser on this issue. I began to work with all the delegates: from Odessa, Nikolaev, from Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk. All had full confidence that if the uprising will develop, Russia will come to the rescue. So I gathered nerazehavshihsya fighters company, to recruit volunteers. 52 people gathered.
In Slavic came quite by accident. We needed a middle city. 52 people – a force more or less in small settlements. And I was told that in the Slavic strongest local assets. This option we evaluated as the best.
How overgrown people subdivisions your movement?
When we arrived in Slavic, on the basis of a person we met 150-200. And they participated in the storming of the ATC with us. In the police department had a lot of weapons – a hundred rifles and pistols 100-150. People immediately armed. Part, however, pilfered.
The next day we took Kramators’k: I went there Cossack division – 30 people. And off we go. Then it all depended on the availability of weapons. The first months were a lot of volunteers, but we had nothing to arm. When the fighting began, the real blood flowed, the number of volunteers poumenshilos.
But still there were many. I reported figures by the end of May to Donetsk Republic enlisted 28,000 people. 28 thousand people actually waited weapons. If even half dismiss: criminal elements, random, even half – is 14 thousand people. If we had weapons, the situation has evolved quite differently than it has evolved. By the time of my departure from Donetsk to us under the gun and 10,000 were not. In Slavic brigade was on the list of about 9,000. But of them combatants, that is directly fighters, about 5000. Others – tylovikov, cooks, volunteers, supplies …
When you fought in Slavyansk, you were just a military or feel and a politician? People are turning to you, ask, “Who are you, shooter?”
Frankly, I’m not going to in any way that is not involved in politics, but even light. In Crimea, I also did a lot. Negotiations on the surrender of Staff Navy I started going there alone, and talked with all the staff. But the fact that I never lit up. Yes, somewhere in the photos some colonel. I’m not saying that in reserve or retired. To solve my tactical tasks was beneficial to me all considered valid. However, I never cried that I act. Simply said – Colonel. And they themselves think out. Well, that’s thought, some colonel. What I retiree knew a few people. And others thought they wanted. Neither the name, nor the name of my not know.
So I planned to behave in Slavyansk. Was going to find a charismatic leader and help as an advisor. The first time I did so. Therefore Ponomarev flashed all the time. He – People’s mayor. was very active. Was useful in its time. Then things went differently. And I have not found anyone who could move as a political leader.
And then just come to light up the team: come Denis Pushilin its fully support. Although I already burned all the bridges, no documents have been there all the fighters left the documents when crossing the border, but it is possible to cut off the retreat as such at all.
As soon as I without a mask, without “Balaklava” appeared on TV with Pushilin, first of all, everyone understood who the shooter. Although previously knew that really I command, interception has already been published, was my identikit, but then I saw firsthand. Immediately I figured, was taken to an apartment in Moscow. I did not consider this point: not even have time to notify relatives. Relatives I do in the course never introduced: that I, where, how. As a result, I have suffered the loss of a personal level because of this exposure, because I can not live with myself, to enjoy their own library. Not to mention how many survived my relatives who learned everything on TV, too. Throughout the war in Slavyansk I had a military dictatorship. And then I would not climb.
Do you think that your experience – a purely military, not a political one. You were the Minister of Defence, the brigade commander?
In Slavyansk was a battalion, brigade was not. The first Slavic volunteer battalion. It was a banner, standard. Prior to the release of the Slavic I actually did not carry out any effect on the Donetsk as defense minister. I gradually been building front. I really obeyed Brain, I sometimes put him problems. In marching against me he did not obey, but tactically. operational – obeyed. I saw his front line by line Lisicansk-Krasny Liman. Garrison Sloviansk obey, obey Kramators’k, Druzhkivka-Kostiantynivka. For a while I obeyed and Horlovks, Bezler because I helped him – sent a detachment to the cleaning of the city, without my squad, he would not have taken control.
I think everything that happened then in Slavic and Donetsk with you, one way or another connected with the restoration of the state. And you do not just involved in the restoration of the military organization, but also the state as a whole. That is, you had consciously or unconsciously political role, you stand at the origins of the establishment of the state.
At that moment I knew perfectly well that alone Donetsk and Lugansk fight against ukrov can not. Even more so – in the absence of its own military industry, effective government of the local. And I originally came from the fact that repeated Crimean option – Russia will enter. It was the best option. And people in this endeavor. Nobody was going to play for Luhansk and Donetsk republic. All were initially – for Russia. And the referendum was conducted for Russia, and went to war for Russia. People wanted to join Russia. Russian flags were everywhere. I was at the headquarters of the Russian flag and all. And we are perceived by the population under the Russian flag. We thought comes the Russian administration, the rear will be organized by Russia and will be another republic within Russia. And about some nation-building, I thought. And then, when I realized that Russia us to not take myself (I can associate with the host), for us, this decision was a shock.
It is not final.
We have nothing definitive, that’s the thing. War is six months, and we still do not know, “edyna” Ukraine without “edyna” Ukraine. What is more important to us: gas supply, or the Russian population in the Southeast?
Would like to see and then, and then. But it is impossible.
And if not, then after all, what is more important? Reported to me that day in Donetsk bombed. Every day send complete lists of hits: where horrible, where a projectile. That is, the day before, with two in the morning to five in the morning just carried the city. Spacing! One day, from early morning until late at night – ran down. A little more – and turn in Stalingrad. And we will haggle over a hundred for oil. And it turns out that in trade relations with Ukraine, we are working to help her survive and fight at the front.
Actually, if I were aimed to seize power in the DNI, I could grab, no problem. When I came from the Slavic Donetsk, everyone was waiting for, I grab power. But I had the task of defending the republic, not to seize power. I would love to go back. And I believe that everything is done right …
I think so too.
But the trigger war still hit me. If our party does not crossed the border, in the end everything would come to an end, as in Kharkov, as in Odessa. It would be several dozen killed, burnt arrested. And this would have ended. A flywheel is almost a war that still goes on, ran our unit. We mixed all the cards on the table. All of them! And from the very beginning, we began to fight in earnest: to destroy the subversive groups “pravosekov.” And I am personally responsible for what is happening there. For what is still shelled Donetsk – I am responsible. For the fact that the Slavic left, of course, I am responsible. And because he did not released, I also have a responsibility.
But, because “in the absence of a stamp, write a simple” – we create a movement that at least so humanitarian support militia.
To say that we provide them, you can not. But we really help. Half the army now dressed in winter clothes, which we put them. Our assistance goes to the troops. And to provide humanitarian assistance to the population is only capable of the Russian state. Only the state! From state reserves should be taken. With the money that is going to, we can help militia, families, wounded, but that is not all.
Looking back on your life, do not you think that all the fractures in your life, throws, war – is the result of some mysterious logic that lies not even in your nature, and destiny?
I am against any mysticism in this regard. Just think that in every situation we must do – does not always work, unfortunately – correct: “Do what you must, come what may.”
But the situation arise by chance or logical?
To the mess that was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, could be anything. In war you meet these people who have been and even more experienced. I was under the gun cameras. But there are a huge number of people who deserve much more. And passed more and more talented in many ways. I have fought the officer, who knows three languages before Donetsk passed five wars. Absolutely unique destiny. But for some inaccuracies of these people are under a bushel. Maybe their time more will come. This mystic – a real accident.
But mysticism has its own field. It exists somewhere, somewhere realized. And realized not in the stars, and in human relations. You do not try on political caftan?
Very want me to try on the coat. But honestly – I chore never liked. I – scout trooper, as Denis Davydov. He was always bored by regular service. Though promoted to the rank of generals, best manifested itself as a partisan.
– Human breakthrough, always go to the island. The greatest successes that I do best – where he had to go first to break through, to engender, to start building. Next must come the other – to build. This – at first. And secondly, I do not possess the necessary skills. If you go into politics, I could show itself is a turning point. Routine me contraindicated. I myself get bored, lose interest. We now have a relatively stable situation. Our policy is based on the principle that smeared – welcome. There is a hook on you – so you can work with you. And now an honest man in politics has nothing to do. I hope that something will change. Still, the war, it makes a big difference.
In the history of the Russian military were unsuccessful politicians. For some reason they did not know how to write himself into politics, even when they were the military aristocracy. The unhappy fate of the Decembrists. Amazingly behaved military in the last days of the Romanov Empire …
There was just cheating.
Here’s military and engaged in politics – give power Guchkov, Shulgin. A Tukhachevsky? Failed to do anything. Zhukov was the host country, the power in his hands was absolute. He handed it to Khrushchev.
The military secretly laid the subjugation function.
Just do not have the Latin American …
Latin American military in the ground and are committed to each other’s overthrow. A world wars are not won.
And the Turkish military? No, there are other military traditions. Russian military ever really get the power, gave politicians who then with them and also dealt.
I’m not entirely military in the classical sense. The command of this kind to me rather casually. I – the secret services.
As the secret services, you have the chance to become a major politician.
Politics now – it’s manipulating elections. Lie on the screen, lie everywhere. Superior quality policy – to spin like a weathervane. I can not turn around like a weathervane, and do not want to be able to. I want to die an honest man. And I will not lie to any screen in any way. If I can not honestly say it is better to say nothing. I can work around any theme, nothing more. Lie directly, I will not. Categorically do not want to.
In today’s political system has no place for me, I understand it very well.
Maybe at this moment. But the story is changeable, especially Russian history. It has great dynamics. I feel the whole skin that time, these peace and truce completely illusory. The most expensive in humans – it’s reputation. You have a great reputation.
She is now trying to drown.
Do not pay attention. Flex that you hang, laughable. Maybe you will be the temptation to be magicians who want to enchant you. Wait until he blow pipe again.
Hope the rain.
Jericho pipe is always ready, do not worry.
The main thing is that the copper is not sounded.
Brass you are through, leaving Jericho. Strelkovs took his place in Russian history. He did what he could do. And that, dear Igor, a precious resource with you our historical reality.
Translated from Russian by: Przemysław Pawełczyk Original: Zavtra
Is Kiev preparing the new military operation in the East of the country? What are the disadvantages of the current government of Novorossiya? Has West declared its war on Russia? The former Minister of Defense of DPR (Donetsk People’s Respublic) Igor Strelkov has answered these and other questions in the live broadcast interview to the journalists of “Kommersant FM” Anatoliy Kuzichev and Konstantin Eggert.
AK .: You obviously understand the internal processes that occur in the conditional area called Novorossiya. The Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said that Ukraine should prepare for the combat operations in the Donbass, and it seems preparing it Then his words were disavowed. Later he said that the information about the impending of the attack was premature, but nonetheless, something is happening there, some kind of movement. Can you comment on this? What are your comments of this situation from the height of your understanding?
IS .: First of all, I noted that you call Novorossia a “ onditional territory”. For you it’s a”territory”, but for me it is a real state, which at the moment is composed of two regions, the two republics. I hope it will not stop there. Regarding the statement of the Kiev military commanders, and the government officials, they haven’t stopped producing such statements since March. First they were going to get back Crimea, now they are going to return Novorossia.
The war did not stop even for one day, so nothing has surprised me in their statement. The shelling didn’t stop for one day even after the Minsk truce. Recently the scale of it has noticeably increased. For example last week in Donetsk in some areas the shelling became hurricane-like. Kievsky and Petrovsky districts are shelled practically daily. Not practically, but literally daily, several times a day. For example on Friday I received an information that at least four houses have been burned down in Donetsk from direct hit. The reports about broken glass-windows or bombed garages are not even counted. So nothing is surprising here.
Kiev is openly preparing for the war and continuing an urgent repairing of its military equipment, recruiting troops and strengthening their positions.
K. E.: Igor, you say that for you it (Novorossiya) is a country, and it is an important part which will be expanded. Then why you are not out there but here in Moscow?
I.S.: You’re asking me a rather difficult question.
K. E.: We don’t ask simple questions anyone.
I.S.: I have repeatedly said that I’ve resigned.
K. E.: But you could go there as a volunteer, as a simple soldier.
I.S.: The situation there is not easy, as I already said. My appearance there may lead to undesirable consequences. Despite the fact that I’m very skeptical about the Minsk truce, and to some other activities of the new government, but I still believe that it is unacceptable to bring a disorder in the rear of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
A.K.: Do you think your appearance will cause a confusion out there?
I.S.: I think that my presence may lead to a concentration around myself all sorts of discontent. This is unacceptable.
A.K.: In other words you don’t want to allow deconsolidation of the unity of monolithic structure of the DPR?
K. E.: What kind of discontent, if it’s not a secret?
I.S.: A lot of it. I think that in certain issues some of this discontent is rightful. But in some cases it is due to the fact that the guerrillas, who make up most of the volunteer units, are reluctant to be united into one regular army.
K. E.: So you’re saying that the banditry is dominating there, huh?
A.K.: There are different approaches…
I.S.: I want to say that the discontent takes place there. There are some objective reasons for it. There are reasons that do not deserve respect but overall my appearance there may served as a magnet that will attract all sort of discontented people.
A.K.: I know what you mean. Evidently it is not on a basis of some concepts but on a basis of specific individuals, specific persons. One gravitates to one thing, the other – to the other. I understand you. I associated your refusal to go back with your intention to be engaged in politics. Firstly, please tell me, is it so that you really decided to be seriously engaged in politics? Secondly, we have all read, sorry to quote Boroday’s words again, about how suitable would it be for you to be engage in politics? You’ve probably seen it.
I.S.: I’ve seen this interview. The only thing I can say – I’m very negatively evaluate the actions of Boroday during my stay in Donetsk towards myself in particular. As for his statements about me trying to be engage in politics there, they do not correspond to reality. On the contrary, I was trying to avoid dealing with politic, and tried to deal with military matters only. That’s what I was actually engaged with.
I put everything into Boroday’s hands first, and then into hands of Zakharchenko. And to begin with, I didn’t even take political matters on my shoulders. As for the comparison me with ballerina, I leave it on his conscience. I don’t claim any political role. If we talk about the movement, “Novorossiya”, which I now head, it does not set any political tasks. It sets targets to provide a maximum assistance to people there who are on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.
K.E.: From one hand, you say that you’re not engaged in politics, but I remember that last summer, if I’m not mistaken, you made a statement, that if President Putin will not give a compulsory military assistance to the separatists and to Novorossia, he will repeat the fate of Slobodan Milosevic. What is it, if it’s not a political statement?
I.S.: This is just an opinion of a person who is well aware of the history, including modern history. Especially that I was there, in the former Yugoslavia and could trace all the stages of Milosevic’s retreat, started from Knin Krajina and ended, through Bosnia and Kosovo, in The Hague.
K.E.: Did you fight there for a long time?
I.S.: Yes, I have fought in Bosnia for a long time in 1992-93 as a volunteer and as a part of the Russian volunteer corpus.
K.E.: Are you not afraid that now, after you have such publicity, you will attract attention of all sorts of international courts, and you will be featured there in international context as a war criminal?
I.S.: Shortly: No, I am not afraid.
A.K.: You yourself outlined that Novorossia is not just some kind of region, not just formation, that for you it is a serious ideologically important concept, it is a country. But these people, whose names have already sounded in our previous broadcasts: Zakharchenko Boroday, Pushilin – are they the right people to implement this extremely ambitious project, a concept?
I.S.: In this case I don’t want to discuss with you the actions of Zaharchenko and Boroday or anyone else, because I do not want to turn our conversation into an extramural squabble. As for Novorossiya, the only thing that I can say is that this is rightly emerged Russian state, inhabited by Russian people, the same people as you and me. And I believe that it has all the rights and all the possibilities for its further existence. Although initially people clearly rebelled to join the Russia, and I hope the time will come when Novorossia will be a part of Russia again as it always been since its inception in XVIII century.
K.E.: Igor, the history of Novorossia is currently being discussed very actively, and even its geographical concept is under attack from all sides. It is quite obvious that if this tendency you dream about will be implemented, Russia will get into a tough international isolation. There will be more sanctions, more stress, and some more very serious blows to Russian economy. You are the Russian citizen, doesn’t it bother you? Doesn’t it disturb you that these ambitions which so far have been realized only on a certain level, could force the 140 – million country to face very serious problems?
I.S.: In 1812, when Napoleon led the “12 languages” army to Russia, it also could be said about the general isolation. However, no one was going to give up.
K.E.: Yes, but nobody has invaded Russia now.
I.S.: What makes you think that nobody invaded Russia? In fact, by organising the revolution in Kiev the West put a gun to the Russia’s head, by creating an anti-Russian regime. Do you suppose that the present Kiev’s regime is not anti-Russian? If you think so, then you are very much mistaken. In fact, the war has been declared to us, or rather the next stage of it was performed.
K.E.: But how can you compare the invasion of Napoleon, the armed invasion of the best army in the world to the territory of the Russian Empire with the emerging of Poroshenko as a president, for example? To me it’s an absolutely incomparable things.
A.K.: Igor says, and in fact, I’m totally agree with him, that the methods and the possible existence of Ukrainian nationalism – it is a harsh Russophobia, aggressive, radical and unequivocal.
K.E.: Well, let’s assume …
A.K.: It is a fact, Kostya.
K.E.: Suppose it is so. But to compare it to Napoleon’s invasion ?
I.S.: I’m not going to draw a historical parallels here.
K.E.: But you’ve done it!
I.S.: Yes, I did. I’m just saying that Russia, throughout its history was a subject of a fierce international isolation, more severe than the present one. Let’s remember the Crimean War for example. There it also began with the invasion of the Western powers into Crimea, and a few years later the war had started. I think, two or even three years later.
K.E.: In one year approximately. But Crimea was the territory of the Russian Empire. Again, it is incomparable things: the emergence of President Poroshenko, however russophobic he is, with the invasion of Napoleon
I.S.: We will not argue here about the history because to parse the history of the Crimean War or War of 1812 in the context of the Novorossiya is incorrect. I’m just saying that Russia has repeatedly found itself in the mode of international isolation and even direct invasion.
A.K.: In general, we will endure.
I.S.: If to be afraid of any isolation, then you can give up your sovereignty entirely.
Translation by Larasdvatri