Alexey Markov (‘Dobry’): We have nothing to negotiate
By Victoria Tolkacheva
A new “absolute truce” has been in effect in the Donbass since March 5. At the same time, the military leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic present more and more facts that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are preparing for an offensive. The commander of the 14th BTRO of the Lugansk People’s Militia (former Ghost Brigade named after Alexei Mozgovoi), member of the Donbass Volunteers’ Union Alexey Markov (“Dobry”) discussed in an interview with Novorossiya News Agency what could happen on the front line in the near future.
|Commander Alexey Markov|
Alexei Markov: This is far from the first absolute truce that I have had to endure. As a rule, it lasts from several hours to several days, and then everything returns to usual. There was the bread truce, the truce after Debaltsevo, the school truce, but they all ended in the same way. It will be literally a few days, and the conflict will return to the previous intensity.
NNA: The Ukrainian side once again thwarted the withdrawal of forces in the area of Stanitsa Luganskaya. In your opinion, why is this happening?
A.M .: It is necessary to understand that the withdrawal of forces is just one of the special episodes. Here you need to judge by the general situation. The Kiev regime aims at winning this war. It is not going to negotiate with anyone, it is not going to withdraw. For Kiev, the cessation of hostilities is extremely unprofitable, I would even say, it is like death. War is the only thing that, so to speak, consolidates society around this regime. And if hostilities cease, the economic and social crisis will immediately begin to surface. Therefore, the current Ukrainian rulers proceed from the fact that the war will obscure everything, but for this the war must happen. Accordingly, no long-term ceasefire talks, no withdrawal of forces. Their primary goal is to achieve victory. Whether this is through direct military offensive or the introduction of “peacekeepers” who will do all the work for them is not the point. A victory in the Donbass will provide them with some time that they can still hold onto power. Therefore, it is not necessary to expect that they will implement any agreements. It is impossible to agree with the fascists — the history of humanity is proof of this.
It was expected that the withdrawal of forces would not take place. This is not the first time when they are trying to create a safe zone for the passage of civilians in both directions. But here it is necessary to take into account one more aspect: for the Kiev regime, the population of Donbass are outsiders. The Ukrainian authorities do not perceive us as citizens of their state. For example, during the Chechen wars, the Russian government continued to pay a pension to all residents of Chechnya. And now the residents of Donbass, for Kiev, are just a condition to deal with, but which it would be good to get rid of. They do not even need the land, but a symbol: we defeated Russia in another war. So the stories that the population of the Donbass suffer, pensions are not paid, relatives are separated by the front line, do not touch anyone. For them, we are not even people. Just look at the comments of the Ukrop [Ukrainian nationalist-fascists] to stories about dead civilians — it’s pure animal joy. “Soaked the larva of the Colorado beetles” [Ukrainian nationalist slur against people of Donbass] — this is what they say about a dead child. There is no recognition of their humanity.
NNA: Now there is a lot of talk about a possible offensive by the AFU. Will it happen, and if so, when?
AM: I think there will be an offensive, because the Ukrop has no other way out. Deepening problems in the economy, growing tension in the social sphere — they cannot cope with these problems. Moreover, no one is trying to solve these issues. The war will obscure it all — but only if hope remains. If before the authorities of Ukraine could somehow maneuver, say that the West will help, the U.S. is with us, now it is clear that they will not give more money. So there are no other options except war.
But they are not fools, either. Maybe they are able to gather some forces to oppose the People’s Militia of the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic, but Russia will not be able to quietly watch as the residents of Donbass are destroyed and the Minsk agreements, of which the Russian Federation is a guarantor, are violated. The AFU Staff does not share its plans with us, but according to the logic of the development of events, there will be an offensive.
This is expected, therefore, in principle, we are ready for it. It is clear that Ukraine’s mobilization potential is almost 20 times more than ours. On the other hand, all our units are staffed with volunteers who know what they are doing and for what they are fighting for. Therefore, although the correlation of forces is not in our favor, we are ready to meet the enemy. And then we’ll see who has stronger will and desire to win.
NNA: You do not link the offensive with the period of presidential elections in the Russian Federation?
AM: Completely. Remember, all small, dependent, nationalistic regimes like to unfold their offensives during some big international event. For example, Georgia’s attack on Abkhazia during the Olympics. So the possibility of an offensive during the elections is quite probable: the Ukrop will count on the fact that Russia will be busy with its internal affairs. By the way, it could be not only the elections, but also the World Cup.
According to our intelligence, the AFU is fully deployed and ready to attack. So they are held up only by a political decision, in military terms they are ready. It may be tomorrow, in a week or a month — when [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko waves his pen and says “kill everyone.”
NNA: What is the current situation in Bakhmutka, under Zhelobok, where your unit is stationed?
AM: Throughout 2017, in general, the situation became much more complicated. If in 2016, between our positions and the positions of the Ukrop there was one-and-a-half or two kilometers of “gray zone,” by 2018 the smallest distance between our trenches is about 60 meters. In fact, we sit on both slopes from Bakhmutka: on one side is us, and on the other – the Ukrop. We constantly have shooting battles; truces, as such, don’t exist. On the most “successful” days, up to 40 skirmishes per day are recorded. A normal day is 10-12 shootings. We have become accustomed to it, and do not even pay much attention to this.
But the Ukrop stubbornly try to move forward: now they have pushed up against us, and are still trying to throw us from our positions. In 2017, this led to several fairly serious battles, as a result of which we now sit in their former positions. That is, we constantly have battles of local positional significance. When they try to climb forward, they get it in the teeth from us. It’s a rare day in the year, when there are only one or two skirmishes — this is considered silence. Whatever is announced at a high level, there is no truce for the Ukrop. So, in this situation, the main task for us is to stand on our positions, build up our forces to prepare for a full-scale offensive by the enemy, and inflict unacceptable losses on him.
NNA: How does the situation change when the enemy rotates? For example, in the DPR it is often said that bombardments are intensified when the AFU is replaced by nationalist battalions.
AM: In fact, it’s true. “Clean” AFU troops sit in their positions, firing with small arms, AGS, mortars, but do not push forward. But the last corpses that we passed to the other side were militants from the “Donbass” battalion [a fascist-nationalist Ukrainian volunteer unit]. They had appropriate tattoos on their hands, symbols. And even on “Facebook” they have each other in their friends list, they love to be photographed — from each phone we received very valuable information. Such “fighters” are very active, like to climb out in the morning in a group of up to 15 people, try to break into our positions, but accordingly get “kicked out.” So the difference is significant: the soldiers of the AFU are not so active and behave much more calmly.
The nationalists are aimed precisely at war, because in peacetime they are nothing. They will, in fact, become a regular criminal gang. So the war for them is a chance to master some influence in the state. And we must, of course, say that they are ideologically motivated: kill the Moskals, the Kuban is native Ukrainian land, and 100 percent descendants of Sumerians. For them, this is the 25th or 26th war with Russia, and Russia did not come to this war again.
It’s a little bit different from our side. I, for example, did not serve in the army, and I got into it directly here, in the war. My chief of staff is a dentist from Alchevsk, my deputy is a pensioner from the same Alchevsk. If the Russian army was really on our side, then this war would have ended long ago, and in a matter of days. On our side, there is the people’s militia and a number of Russian volunteers and volunteers from other countries.
Although now it is necessary to pay tribute to the AFU: compared to 2014, they have grown significantly in military terms. That is, if then it was just a mob of armed men without a clear command and skills, now they have made great progress in terms of combat training, possession of weapons. Of course, this is far from being the strongest army in Europe, as they claim. But they have turned out an army of average level, which is good for them. We try to match them.
NNA: What is the mood of our guys against the backdrop of truces and a complete ban on opening fire under threat of being dismissed from the ranks of the People’s Militia?
A.M .: As I said before, this is not our first truce, and they all end in the same way. At first, everyone is forced to sign in the journal that he is acquainted with the order to ban opening of fire, everyone is warned: you cannot shoot in any way. But a few days pass, a maximum of a week, and everything returns to normal. Because it’s impossible to just sit 60 meters from the enemy in a trench, when he brazenly advances halfway and starts shooting at you. Here, from the instinct of self-preservation, you open fire in response. And the fact that they will not adhere to the “silence” under such conditions — here, at least, we do not “go to the grandmother.” I would be very surprised if the truce really took hold. The only condition under which they do not open fire is when they once again lose their corpses in our territory. And for a few days, until we transfer these corpses to the other side, there is silence. That is, it’s quiet only when they are interested in getting their “two-hundredths” [bodies] back.
Of course, an incomprehensible war is on. On the one hand, the Ukrop declare that they are at war with a nuclear power, they have everything to win. Poroshenko initially said that for Ukraine the Minsk agreements were a way to take a breath, to pump up the army and then solve the issue by force. And we are constantly for the Minsk agreements, negotiations, for a ceasefire. But war cannot be won by a ceasefire, and with the Ukrop it is absolutely useless. There’s no one to negotiate with, and there’s nothing to talk about. For them, the ideal option is to leave scorched land here, solemnly stick a flag on the border with Russia and forget about this war. Nobody’s going to restore anything here.
Once again, the population of Donbass is foreign to Ukraine, even in world outlook. Residents of Ukraine have always been someone’s lackeys: they went under the Poles, Germans, and now conditionally under the Americans. People in the Donbass have a Russian soul, and for them Russia is the only homeland. Therefore, as the Ukrainian “nationals” cut out the Poles, so they want to cut out the Russian Donbass. We have nothing to negotiate.
But I would like to note that the only thing that has been successful for Kiev is to conflate the conflict in the Donbass for a war with Russia. We are losing the information war, because we have principles that do not allow lying, as the Ukrop constantly does. They claim every prisoner is an officer of the Russian army, they see “Armata” and Russian planes everywhere. No one cares that this is a complete lie. It feels like Ukraine lives in some kind of alternative reality. But it is impossible to reach an agreement with the fascists: we have to wait for this regime to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions.
NNA: Or we will wait for the war.
AM: Unfortunately, yes. Of course, I would like to see it collapse before a full-scale war, because this means a loss of life not only among the military, but also among civilians. And the Donbass has already lost too much. But we have no other choice: to survive, we must fight.
Translated by Greg Butterfield