Interview with Ghost Brigade Commander Pyotr Biryukov, “Arkadich”
By Alexander Krot
September 16: I met with Arkadich, commander of the 14th territorial defense battalion (BRTO) and deputy commander of the Ghost Brigade of Alexei Mozgovoi, in late July, this time late at night. Tired (after a whole day spent on the positions of the brigade), he sat in the staff room of the commandants of Donetsk village in the Lugansk People’s Republic. At my request to talk about the life of the unit, its goals and objectives, he smiled wearily but agreed, knowing that the information component of modern warfare is no less important than the war in the trenches.
|Commander Pyotr Biryukov, ‘Arkadich’|
Now I try to tell our fighters one simple thing. Many people say: the locals here do not join the militia, some drink vodka and do nothing. And sometimes you hear things like: why are we here to die, so that they can slurp beer.
And to be angry with them is stupid, just as it is stupid to be angry with a child for being naughty; it doesn’t mean you should kick him. The time will come, the situation will change, and many of those who now sit in the rear may realize their mistake and join the ranks of the militia, and if not, someone has to work in the rear to make the roads, transport food and so on.
The fighters who are here, ready to fulfill their duty, miss their homes and families, so it is with these petty resentments that some people try to destabilize the situation here in Novorossiya.
And those people who rock the boat, whether out of foolishness or maliciously on the enemy’s behalf, who only think of themselves, say that people in Donbass do not want to fight, only Russian volunteers do.
It’s nothing like that, as I can tell from the composition of the brigade, and the composition of the militia in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LC).
Yes, there are many Russian volunteers, about 39 percent — Russian and foreign volunteers, let’s say.
Locals – that is, former residents of Ukraine, with whom the junta has ruined good faith, including residents of the Donbass, both in free territory and parts occupied by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (APU) – account for 60 percent.
A lot or a little? I think that’s enough. We are all fighting for a common cause, their land.
At the same time, the ratio in the Ghost Brigade is a bit more towards the Russians. It so happens that more and more people from Russia are traveling to join the Ghost. For a variety of reasons. One reason is that we have no desire to fight for money, we’re not in it for wages and all that stuff. For me personally it is unimportant. I chose to volunteer for this. And I’m not going to wear awards for this war, although I have enough, as in the past. This is a civil war, and I really don’t like it when people are killed in a civil war, even on the other side, especially the common soldiers of the APU, and I don’t want to receive money for it. The rest of the fighters also think like this, at least the majority do. Therefore, the Ghost Brigade is an ideological division and attracts many ideological people from Russia.
However, the local armies of the LC and the DNR, as I said, include much more than Russian volunteers. Just by comparison with the mobilization in Ukraine, there are not enough local resources, and aid from Russia is vital to Novorossiya. But all of us are here to defend their homeland and people, and therefore any resentment toward those who had not stood up is just folly. That’s the message I’m trying to get across to our fighters.
Recently, not being able to defeat us on the battlefield, the enemy tries to defeat us with disinformation. Here, for example, they spread rumors about the “drain” of Novorossiya. I have personally heard these rumors for a year and a half already, and I responsibly declare — the rumors are not true.
Novorossiya will be – anyone who claims otherwise is groundless. And in the near future we expect war, a long and hard war, and this does not depend on us. The situation itself makes it inevitable, it is already underway. And I tell everyone: those who want to sit it out will be disappointed, because this war will touch everyone.
That is why we are fighting, and there is no alternative — the enemy creeps forward, we fight them, sometimes we suffer losses. The truce is merely paper, we’ve had a truce for four months, well, here those four to five months have been a waste of time, as cynical as it may sound.
In general, the intensity of attacks has decreased a little, but from experience, we know it will not last long. And the media who observe enemy positions are seeing the Right Sector flag, the swastika flag, so these kids do not want to leave, and the blood will continue to flow.
What more can I say? On July 18 we had a serious clash with the enemy; unfortunately there were serious mutual losses. After that, we met with officers from the other side, and they made a request — not to shoot at them. We do not shoot, we keep our word, but for some reason they do not keep their word. In the last four days there was not a single shot fired from our side, but there were fourteen from theirs. There is destruction, but fortunately no casualties among the civilian population and brigade personnel. Because the APU’s heavy artillery in our sector of the front does not work, the attacks mainly come from AGSov, BMPs, sometimes tanks on the edge of the front. We have ample field fortifications, enabling us to shelter personnel, and these things cannot get us.
In general, tensions are high; we monitor the situation and are ready to respond to the enemy at any time. But as long as there is an opportunity to learn and reinforce our position, we are going to learn and grow. So, that’s the situation with the truce.
Almost a month and a half have passed since this conversation, but it has not lost its relevance. The war goes on quietly, without noise in the media – the war of infiltration, mine warfare, shelling, clashes of patrols with Sabotage and Reconnaissance Groups (DRG), and the work of snipers. The treacherous enemy does not sleep … But the guardians of Novorossiya are the fighters and brigade commanders of Ghost, which means — the enemy will be defeated.