Alexey Markov: Peaceful settlement in Donbass not profitable for Ukrainian side

Alexey Markov (“Dobri”): We are ready to continue the war  

July 21, 2017: Alexey Gennadyevich Markov (call-sign “Dobri”) has been in Donbass since 2014. He went from a rank-and-file soldier to commander of the 14th BTRO of the Lugansk People’s Militia (the former Ghost Brigade of Alexei Mozgovoi).
Commander Alexey Markov
Novorossiya News Agency: Alexey, tell us your story. How did you end up in Donbass?
Alexey Markov: Since 2014, I was involved in bringing humanitarian supplies [from Russia] to militia units. In the summer we decided that we should go there ourselves. We formed a small detachment of 18 people, and went to the city of Alchevsk to join the Ghost Brigade with Alexei Mozgovoi. Since 2014, I’ve been here in the Ghost.
NNA: Did some of your detachment return home already or is everyone still here?
AM: It varies. Some went home, some due to injuries. Some still serve with us. It’s been almost three years.
NNA: Many of the volunteers decided to leave Donbass after the second Minsk agreement, when the military situation became, let’s say, perplexing. You’re still here. Why?
AM: I don’t like to do things half way. It’s necessary to finish this war to the end. And there were other motives too. A lot of our guys are buried here. I don’t want this sacrifice to be wasted.
When you go back, people will ask — well, why did you go there? It’s one thing to come back with a victory, completely different to turn around, just like that. So now, we have to win.
NNA: In some publications, the media have recently been trying to divide the volunteers who have come from Russia from the local ones. Do you think there are differences?
AM: There are differences, of course. At least for the time being, those who are serving from the local people have strong motives just to find work, to earn money for their families. For them, military service is the source of a small income in conditions when there are no jobs at all.
It’s clear that no one will leave Russia for 15,000 rubles here (the salary of service people in the People’s Militia – editor). But from Russia, especially at the beginning, there were a lot of people for whom it was an adventure, a search for an adrenaline rush. And soon enough, after satisfying their thirst for adventure, they returned home.
The quality of composition has certainly changed. The difference from 2014 is big. It’s clear that there are fewer idealists now. There are more of those for whom the army is a job.
At the same time, there are Russians who have married here, who are building a life and family. Some stayed to pursue their career. And some are in the habit of fighting, like me, for example (laughs).
NNA: Now, in the context of the adoption of new laws in Ukraine, many believe that Ukraine is preparing in every possible way for a big war with Russia, and this will happen sooner or later.
AM: Most likely, it is. It really looks like it. Everyone is sure of this for one simple reason: a peaceful settlement of this conflict is not profitable for the Ukrainian side. They actually have no other choice. They have to intensify the war simply to hold on to power.
For us the situation is simple. We do not have enough strength for an independent offensive. The Ukrainian Army has enough strength to knock us down, but it must be understood that they do not have enough strength to endure if assistance is provided by Russia. Previously, there was a stalemate, but now they are confident that they have enough power to move independently and quickly enough, before Russia can react, to resolve the issue using the Croatian scenario, like when Serbian Krajina was simply destroyed rapidly. And we are preparing for such a possible development.
NNA: The task is to hold onto positions for as long as possible?
AM: If they can reach the border within a few days, then Russia will not be able to intervene, because it will be too late.
NNA: How high is the likelihood of Ukraine trying to implement the Croatian scenario?
AM: It’s quite high. They have no options. If the junta can truly capture Donbass, it will give them some time to stay in power. With a victory, they would be able to continue for another couple of years, blaming all the remaining economic problems on having to rebuild the infrastructure, which in turn will increase the degree of hatred towards the inhabitants of Donbass. Military expenditures will be increased and so on. These would be good explanations that many people in Ukraine would swallow without problems.
In case of a defeat in Donbass, I think the junta’s chances of holding on are very small.
NNA: Our command is ready for this option?
AM: I do not know the plans of the command, but judging by the development of events, they are preparing for this.
Markov (second from right) and members of Antifascist Caravan
to Donbass at monument to Ghost Brigade founder
Alexei Mozgovoi in Alechevsk, Lugansk People’s Republic.
NNA: Is there any progress in the investigation of Alexei Mozgovoi’s death?
AM: Unfortunately, no. The official investigation, we are told, “is not moving forward.” But I believe that it did not even begin.
In the brigade, I was in charge of the investigation. I personally collected testimonies, gathered contacts of people who were present there. None of this was requested by anyone. As I understand it, nobody cares.
NNA: Were there any results from the brigade’s investigation?
AM: Yes, we got some results. Unfortunately, we cannot reliably say, with 100-percent confidence, that this version is true. We have circumstantial evidence. Unfortunately, we cannot name the customer and the performer. And to give an empty version of events, without having strong evidence, makes no sense.
NNA: Are the ideas of Alexei Borisovich alive? Are there continuers?
AM: Well, we stayed where we were, we did not go anywhere. The commanders of the battalion consist almost entirely of ideological people who took up arms for these ideas, and continue to fight for them with the hope that someday, if we cannot translate them into reality, we will at least bring them closer to fruition.
NNA: There is a new ceasefire, the “bread truce.” Your guys are holding the front line. Can you outline today’s operational situation?
AM: The shelling is the same as it was, and will continue to be. In fact, there is no special truce. It’s a bit quieter and easier, let’s say. The kind of serious daily fighting that there was in early June is not happening now. This is probably due to the rotation that has occurred in the Ukrainian forces.
I understand that before the rotation the 93rd Brigade wanted to achieve some impressive successes to leave “with a victory,” but the result was exactly the opposite. They tried hard enough to show their fighting ability, to be “useful.” But the last week before the rotation was very quiet. Those who came after them have been shelling every day, but we’re already accustomed to this. While the “bread truce” is in force, we are observing it …
NNA: This case when two guys were brutally murdered [by Ukrainian forces] under Zhelobok, and others were taken prisoner …
AM: It didn’t happen under Zhelobok. Recently, for some reason, Zhelobok suddenly became extremely popular. A small village, practically without residents already, which is on the very front line. Now whatever happens, they say — under Zhelobok. No, it was not under Zhelobok.
NNA: Were your guys there?
AM: No, they’re not from our battalion. We interact with them, but this is the site of another unit.
NNA: What is the cause of the cruelty with which these two guys were killed? 
AM: It was the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 100%. They acted expertly. Most likely, it was a group from the 8th Special Forces Regiment.  They were in our zone and nearby. They have the same style. The bodies of the dead, which they left behind, carry traces, let’s say, of intensive interrogation with the use of bladed weapons. They have wounds that were not obtained in combat, but as a result of torture after captivity.
It must be understood that Ukraine is now building an openly Nazi state. Although it now looks like a farce, a parody of the Third Reich, they’re really killing people. And like in any Nazi state, one of the basic pillars of ideology is the dehumanization of the enemy, the dehumanization of entire peoples or strata of the population. In the Third Reich it was the Jews, the Bolsheviks. The current Nazis have, again, the Communists, the Russians.
So there’s absolutely nothing surprising about it. If the supreme rulers of the Ukrainian Reich allow themselves to make misanthropic statements that the inhabitants of Donbass are not full-fledged people, then what to expect from ordinary actors?
NNA: How do you think the situation in Donbass will develop in the near future?
AM: I have a lot of thoughts that I do not want to give voice to yet. The situation is too complex. I think things will change a lot in the next two weeks, or the beginning of August.
The fact that the Ukrainian forces are preparing for a military solution is not a secret. The fact that we are ready for them is also not a secret. At least, despite the frustrations which many fighters have, especially ideological ones, connected with the still-uncertain future prospects of the republics, the fighting spirit is quite high. The fighters are ready for war, ready for the active phase.
In any case, even given the preponderance of forces on that side, they will not have an easy victory. We are very much looking forward to victory from our side.
NNA: It remains to wish all of us victories, so that all fighters come out of it alive and well, with fortitude of spirit and God’s help.
AM: I’m an atheist, so I’m counting on myself and my fighters. And we are really getting ready. The level of combat training has grown exponentially. War forces you to learn military matters. Everything will be all right, at least we hope so.
Translated by Greg Butterfield

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