Russian Correspondent Openly Reveals Role of Russian Soldiers in the East Ukraine Battlefield

 

In his article, In the Pampases of Donbass, special correspondent for “Kommersant” Ilya Barabanov reports on his interviews with the young Russian soldiers who fought at Debaltseve. What follows is a translation of his article, which shows, among other things, that 1) the Russian soldiers were actively recruited by political commissars to fight in Ukraine, 2) They were actively encouraged by their commanding officers to go to Ukraine after signing papers resigning from the Russian army, 3) They wore Russian uniforms without insignias, 4) They did not like that reporters were directed to interview local militia (miners), while they did most of the fighting, 5) They were told that by fighting against the Ukrainian junta, they could prevent war from coming to Russia.

Here is Barabanov’s article:

20-year-old Misha was born in Yekaterinburg, 21-year-old Alex in Mozdok, Artem, 22 years old, is from the Slavyansk-on-Kuban and 23-year-old Dima is from Vladikavkaz. The other guys are from Chita, Norilsk, and Ulan-Ude.

Until recently, they were in military contract service with the motorized infantry brigade in city “N.” In December and January they were posting photos of themselves on the Russian version of Facebook.

Two to three weeks ago, everything changed, and these young guys are now posting pictures of themselves in uniforms without insignias clustered on a square in (the east Ukrainian city of) Gorlovki, sitting atop an armored vehicle somewhere on the road to Debaltseve, or posing in front of a destroyed tank at the entrance to the ruined (east Ukrainian) city of Uglegorsk.

They all came to Donbass after January 20, when active hostilities resumed. They came on an open-ended mission. Their commanders (in “N”) did not oppose their coming. On the contrary, the commander was quick to convince them why they should go to Donbass to protect their (Russian) homeland.

The young men went to Donbas in groups of three as a crew. Upon arrival, they asked if their friends already there were still alive. They are assigned to different army units already formed in the DNR (people’s republic of Donetsk).

The young soldiers’ role in military operations was to perform combat missions on behalf of either the self-proclaimed republics, or “separate regions of Donetsk and Lugansk region” (as it is written in the Minsk agreement). They know how to fight. They carry out their duties and then return to headquarters. In the commandant’s office and at checkpoints, they can see journalists talking to local militia who claim to be miners. You are supposed to get the impression that it is “locals” who are fighting the (Ukrainian) junta, but then someone blurts out:

– We have the Buryats (a local people of eastern Siberia) for cannon fodder.

– And what about the Buryats?

– Well, they are the Donbass Indians.

Everyone smiles and understands. In the days before the final assault on Debaltseve, the reporters do their best to conceal the presence of the “Buryats” by closing the entrance to the city of Uglegorsk, from which the assault on Debaltseve is being launched. After the battle and Debaltseve has fallen, the miners again will man the check points and journalists will again be allowed in on the open road.

Everyone knows the strategic significance of Debaltseve as a direct road connecting Donetsk to Lugansk, and the largest railway junction and offering high ground for artillery. About how many hundreds on both sides have been killed during the month-long assault, we will not learn soon.

After the taking of Debaltseve, it may be possible that the Minsk ceasefire agreement will be observed. The shelling may stop completely or at least subside for a month or two until someone decides that the self-proclaimed republics can not go on living without Mariupol, Artemivsk or Lysychansk . Then “political commissars” will be activated throughout the military units in Russia to tell stories about how important it is to protect the freedom-loving West Donbas from aggression. No one will be forced – only volunteers will go.

Michael, and Alex, and Artem, and Dima signed a letter of resignation before leaving for Ukraine. If anyone of these guys is “very unlucky” (killed) in the assault on Debaltseve, they are out of luck. Such volunteers will have no relationship whatsoever to their military units (back in Russia).

[The reporter goes on to write that the same thing happened to Soviet “volunteers” during the Spanish Civil War, where Soviet officer died under Spanish names.]

The reporter then asks the young soldiers:

“Were you told that you were being sent to military exercises in the Rostov (Southern Russia) region or were you directly told that we were going to fight in Ukraine?”

They told us right away (we are going to Ukraine). See for yourself. These grunts do what they are told. I do not serve in the army in order to learn to sew and dig.”

“Is your “trip” for a long time or does it go on indefinitely until you leave?”

“So far, I am here. I want to either to end the war, or fight to my last breath.”

“And why are you doing this?” The reporter asks one of them.

We were told that we can help to stop the war here.”

Image credit: Mykhaylo Palinchak / Shutterstock.com

There are 19 comments.

  1. Member

    You have to hand it to the Russian propagandists. They’re good at their business. These young soldiers are convinced that they can “stop the war here” in Ukraine. As if Russia was in danger of a Ukranian invasion.

    • #1
    • February 20, 2015 at 1:01 pm
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  2. Thatcher

    Paul,

    Sometimes the MSM’s capacity to ignore reality borders on the criminal. This has been all over the net for the last ten months. Nothing, nothing, nobody can confront Putin with this. He destabilizes part of a Nation and I am quite sure will in effect annex it as part of New Russia. How difficult would it have been to confirm this very thing and force Putin out. It would have required a minimal resolve that the Obama White House simply does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • February 20, 2015 at 1:03 pm
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  3. Member

    It sounds like the start of Cold War II.

    • #3
    • February 20, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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  4. Inactive

    James Gawron:Paul,

    Sometimes the MSM’s capacity to ignore reality borders on the criminal. This has been all over the net for the last ten months. Nothing, nothing, nobody can confront Putin with this. He destabilizes part of a Nation and I am quite sure will in effect annex it as part of New Russia. How difficult would it have been to confirm this very thing and force Putin out. It would have required a minimal resolve that the Obama White House simply does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Actually, it would have required more than minimal resolve. And more than minimal involvement. But it would not have required serious American combat power. OTOH, with some judicious “support” – which would include advanced weaponry and SF to show them how to use it (and maybe some anti-air assaults with something – drones, airborne bombers, whatever) this thing could have had to cause Putin to either drop the ruse and invade in real force, or lose. If the former, then there would have to be a strategy for that too (there’s that word again – strategy).

    • #4
    • February 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm
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  5. Member

    Just finished watching a recent Russian documentary series about the Korean War on YouTube. It does a good job of explaining how Russians participated in the air war while making it possible to deny Russian involvement (for the benefit of those who felt it in their best interest to believe those denials). Russian insignia were removed, pilots didn’t speak Russian on their radios, didn’t risk capture, etc.

    I think all this has been pretty well known by others, but not having known the history of the Korean War in detail myself, I learned about it from this documentary, thinking all the time about the obvious parallels with Ukraine.

    It’s not that Russia is the only country ever to do such a thing, but it’s silly to pretend that such things couldn’t be happening in Ukraine.

    • #5
    • February 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm
    • Like
  6. Inactive
    AIG

    James Gawron:How difficult would it have been to confirm this very thing and force Putin out. It would have required a minimal resolve that the Obama White House simply does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim

    You mean like what the US government and NATO have been saying, with satellite photos of Russian deployments and bombings into Ukraine…for about…9 months now?

    Which, then led to sanctions and the crushing of the Russian economy?

    • #6
    • February 20, 2015 at 9:04 pm
    • Like
  7. Inactive

    AIG:

    James Gawron:How difficult would it have been to confirm this very thing and force Putin out. It would have required a minimal resolve that the Obama White House simply does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim

    You mean like what the US government and NATO have been saying, with satellite photos of Russian deployments and bombings into Ukraine…for about…9 months now?

    Which, then led to sanctions and the crushing of the Russian economy?

    Bah! “Crushing” the Russian economy hasn’t made an iota of difference to Putin. Some serious anti-armor missiles might, though.

    • #7
    • February 21, 2015 at 6:20 am
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  8. Member

    I find it hard to believe that Putin cares about the economic suffering of the Russian people. As a former KGB agent the habit of inflicting suffering is not a problem. His only concern might be that of an oligarch or oligarchs finding their own former KGB agent that will serve him a polonium sandwich.

    • #8
    • February 21, 2015 at 8:41 am
    • Like
  9. Inactive
    AIG

    Devereaux:

    Bah! “Crushing” the Russian economy hasn’t made an iota of difference to Putin.

    Doug Watt:I find it hard to believe that Putin cares about the economic suffering of the Russian people.

    Just like it made no difference in the 1980s.

    Devereaux:

    Some serious anti-armor missiles might, though.

    Is Ukraine lacking anti-armor missiles? No, it’s not.

    Us giving them weapons will only mean they will end up in the hands of Russians, that much quicker.

    Like this counter-battery radar we gave them, and is now in Russian hands

    last US CB radar captured

    • #9
    • February 21, 2015 at 1:40 pm
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  10. Inactive

    AIG:

    Devereaux:

    Bah! “Crushing” the Russian economy hasn’t made an iota of difference to Putin.

    Doug Watt:I find it hard to believe that Putin cares about the economic suffering of the Russian people.

    Just like it made no difference in the 1980s.

    Devereaux:

    Some serious anti-armor missiles might, though.

    Is Ukraine lacking anti-armor missiles? No, it’s not.

    Us giving them weapons will only mean they will end up in the hands of Russians, that much quicker.

    Like this counter-battery radar we gave them, and is now in Russian hands

    last US CB radar captured

    This is good. Take a nascent army, drop some gear they don’t know how to use, and then be surprised when an organized illegal Russian military seizes them.

    Most people aren’t born fighters, and even those who are need training on usage of equipment.

    • #10
    • February 21, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    • Like
  11. Member

    AIG:

    James Gawron:How difficult would it have been to confirm this very thing and force Putin out. It would have required a minimal resolve that the Obama White House simply does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim

    You mean like what the US government and NATO have been saying, with satellite photos of Russian deployments and bombings into Ukraine…for about…9 months now?

    Which, then led to sanctions and the crushing of the Russian economy?

    The sanctions were a joke. Applied too sparingly and in a graduated method that allowed the Russians to adjust. We SPECIFICALLY targeted a handful of individuals and companies to avoid overall damage to Russia’s economy.

    Individuals

    • Igor Sechin, president of the Russian state oil company Rosneft
    • Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected head of the international affairs committee of the Russian parliament’s lower house
    • Dmitry Kozak, Russian Deputy Prime Minister
    • Sergei Chemezov, longtime Putin ally
    • Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Russian Federal Security Service
    • Sergei Beseda, head of the FSB department that oversees international operations and intelligence activity
    • Four members of Russia’s Security Council

    Companies

    Just the kind of lightweight response I would expect from our Progressive White House. The Ukrainians need weapons and combat supplies. Not MRE’s and grief councilors. We helped get them in this mess when we PROMISED them we would guarantee their borders in return for their surrendering their nuclear arsenal and reducing the size of their conventional forces.

    • #11
    • February 21, 2015 at 8:56 pm
    • Like
  12. Inactive
    AIG

    Kozak:

    Just the kind of lightweight response I would expect from our Progressive White House.

    Sure sure. I guess a decrease in the value of the ruble of 100%, a decrease in FDI of 50%, a downgrade of Russia to junk bond status, an economy in collapse etc etc…is a “lightweight response”.

    Do people really think that by saying a bunch of words over and over, they’re going to negate the facts?

    That’s not how this works.

    We helped get them in this mess when we PROMISED them we would guarantee their borders

    We didn’t promise them anything.

    Devereaux:

    This is good. Take a nascent army, drop some gear they don’t know how to use, and then be surprised when an organized illegal Russian military seizes them.

    No one is surprised. That’s why you don’t give them weapons.

    Also, because they have plenty of weapons in their own arsenal. It’s not us who’s not supplying them with weapons. It’s their own government that doesn’t want their “volunteer battalions” to be armed more.

    • #12
    • February 22, 2015 at 2:21 am
    • Like
  13. Member

    AIG:

    Kozak:

    Sure sure. I guess a decrease in the value of the ruble of 100%, a decrease in FDI of 50%, a downgrade of Russia to junk bond status, an economy in collapse etc etc…is a “lightweight response”.

    We didn’t promise them anything.

    Uh no, we made promises : Budapest Memorandum:

    The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine as well as those of Belarus andKazakhstan. As a result Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996,[2][3] of which Ukraine had physical though not operational control. 

    As to their economy:

    Last month, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the country’s GDP is expected to fall three percent this year, according to Russian news agencies.”

    Not exactly a collapse.

    • #13
    • February 22, 2015 at 7:33 am
    • Like
  14. Thatcher

    The Reticulator:Just finished watching a recent Russian documentary series about the Korean War on YouTube. It does a good job of explaining how Russians participated in the air war while making it possible to deny Russian involvement (for the benefit of those who felt it in their best interest to believe those denials). Russian insignia were removed, pilots didn’t speak Russian on their radios, didn’t risk capture, etc.

    A couple of years ago I had a client who served in Viet Nam as an Air Force intelligence language specialist. He was based in Da Nang (at the big AFB there) and his language specialty was Russian. I asked why was he there and he told me that it was to listen to the radio traffic of the pilots of the fighters the North Vietnamese put up against us. They were all Russians.

    Some of them were very good, which is why the Top Gun school was started. The Russians keep using the same techniques and tactics. They work so why stop.

    • #14
    • February 22, 2015 at 7:41 am
    • Like
  15. Thatcher

    AIG, KOZAK, DEVEREAU, AND ALL,

    We have reached a point which I call the Demo point. This is where the World requires a demonstration of a country’s ability & resolve before the World will fully back a new Nation State. This is not a new phenomenon. In 1779 such a demo took place.

     “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones eventually succeeded in lashing the two ships together, nullifying his opponent’s greater maneuverability and allowing Jones to take advantage of the larger size and considerably greater crew of Bonhomme Richard. An attempt by the Americans to board Serapis was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard. Finally, after another of Jones’s squadron joined in the fight, the British captain surrendered at about 10:30 p.m.Bonhomme Richard– shattered, on fire, leaking badly – defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, 25 September 1779. Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the Dutch United Provinces for repairs.

    Though Bonhomme Richard sank subsequent to the battle, the outcome of the battle convinced the French crown of the wisdom of backing the colonies in their fight to separate from British authority.

    I think Putin’s Foreign Legion may yet find that the Ukrainians “have not yet begun to fight!”

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
    • February 22, 2015 at 7:53 am
    • Like
  16. Inactive

    James Gawron:AIG, KOZAK, DEVEREAU, AND ALL,

    We have reached a point which I call the Demo point. This is where the World requires a demonstration of a country’s ability & resolve before the World will fully back a new Nation State. This is not a new phenomenon. In 1779 such a demo took place.

    “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones eventually succeeded in lashing the two ships together, nullifying his opponent’s greater maneuverability and allowing Jones to take advantage of the larger size and considerably greater crew of Bonhomme Richard. An attempt by the Americans to board Serapis was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard. Finally, after another of Jones’s squadron joined in the fight, the British captain surrendered at about 10:30 p.m.Bonhomme Richard– shattered, on fire, leaking badly – defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, 25 September 1779. Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the Dutch United Provinces for repairs.

    Though Bonhomme Richard sank subsequent to the battle, the outcome of the battle convinced the French crown of the wisdom of backing the colonies in their fight to separate from British authority.

    I think Putin’s Foreign Legion may yet find that the Ukrainians “have not yet begun to fight!”

    Regards,

    Jim

    We can always hope so. And rest assured, as long as this president is in office, nothing substantive will be done about Ukraine.

    • #16
    • February 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm
    • Like
  17. Inactive
    AIG

    Kozak:

    Uh no, we made promises : Budapest Memorandum:

    You should try reading it sometime ;)

    As to their economy:

    Last month, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the country’s GDP is expected to fall three percent this year, according to Russian news agencies.”

    Not exactly a collapse.

    Ok if you say that 100% decrease in value of the ruble 50% drop in FDI, junk bond status for your bonds…is not a collapse…then it must be so.

    See, what I said earlier about people thinking that by them simply saying something, it negates facts.

    Maybe if you repeat it a third time, it will be true. Third time’s a charm, as they say.

    James Gawron:I think Putin’s Foreign Legion may yet find that the Ukrainians “have not yet begun to fight!”

    Regards,

    Jim

    Everyone needs fantasies Jim.

    Devereaux:

    We can always hope so. And rest assured, as long as this president is in office, nothing substantive will be done about Ukraine.

    Right right. Where were you armchair generals in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia?

    • #17
    • February 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm
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  18. Thatcher

    Right right. Where were you armchair generals in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia?

    Not realizing that total cynics like you were calling the shots.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
    • February 22, 2015 at 4:24 pm
    • Like
  19. Member

    Sophisticated weapons may not be the answer for the Ukrainians. They might be better off with Claymores and small arms kill zones. Anti-tank weapons that knock out the lead tanks and armored personnel carriers that could make life a living hell for militia that follow armor to try and hold territory. It might be time to crater highways and destroy rail lines that allow traffic from east to west. Leave highways and rail lines open from Poland into the Western Ukraine for re-supply.

    • #19
    • February 22, 2015 at 8:11 pm
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