The mysterious figure of Col. Igor Strelkov, a former Russian special forces officer, has struck a chord of fear in the liberal-nationalist Kiev regime and its Western patrons. A veteran of Bosnia and the First and Second Chechen Wars, this spring and summer Strelkov showed himself a superb tactician and operational commander against numerically superior and more heavily armed Ukrainian armed forces in the battle for the Donbass, a pivotal moment in the fate of reborn Novorussia. The following interview was conducted on October 9th between Strelkov and Orthodox journalist Igor Evsin at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Ryazan. Translated by Mark Hackard.
Igor Vasilevich Evsin: Igor Ivanovich, I’ll honestly say that in recent days I can’t escape the thought that the Minsk Agreements resemble the Khasavyurt Agreements that set down the “beginning of the end” of the First Chechen War and led to the Second.
Igor Ivanovich Strelkov: It looks like this is so…Now we are trying not to permit another “Khasavyurt” in the Donbass.
In general I came to this opinion when I saw that the militia’s broad and victorious offensive was stopped over political reasons of some kind. What do you think, what would have been if it wasn’t stopped?
Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, which we left to preserve our military potential, would today be ours, not to speak of Mariupol. Do you know that when they stopped the offensive, advance detachments of the militia had already entered Mariupol? The Ukrainians just ran away from our onslaught. Mariupol was empty…And then there you are! They stopped the offensive, and the peace negotiations in Minsk began, and they had me “leave” at that time because I was categorically against stopping the offensive. But my fears were completely justified. Today, thanks to the “cease-fire,” Ukrainian forces regrouped, brought up heavy armaments and prepared for new battles. Now this is not the same panicked army that, if we had not stopped our offensive, would already have been defeated.
Overall for the people of the Donbass, the greatest tragedy is that the referendum on the creation of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics was not recognized by Russia as the referendum on Crimea’s annexation was. And already no one thought that the rebellion would lead to such a shameful result as the Minsk Agreements.
Igor Ivanovich, one other question worries me among all the “incomprehensibles” happening in the Ukraine. Why are Ukrainians not revolting against the Kiev government that, having unleashed war in the Donbass, is killing civilians – women, the elderly, children. Or do they not know about this?
They know. They even know very well. They are constantly shown television scenes of the bombardment of Donetsk and Lugansk, shown murdered civilians, and constantly it’s drummed into their heads, “Look at what Russian terrorists are doing on Ukrainian land.” The people are hypnotized and believe; they are enraged and support the Kiev government fighting these very “Russian terrorists and separatists.”
But there still must be something humane in the Kiev security forces…After all, they know that what they’re doing is simply beyond imagination, simply isn’t subject to comprehension.
Igor Vasilevich, what do you expect from them? The most genuine Satanists came to power in Kiev. And that’s why their methods of waging war are satanic.
I have the sense that Ukrainians have been seized by some kind of possession resembling the Russian people’s possession, when after the 1917 Revolution, Russians were shooting Russians…
The militia is not party to this possession. Otherwise you’re wholly correct. There is a civil war underway in the Ukraine, one like the Civil War in Russia.
But there is the opinion that it’s an international war or even the Third World War.
I don’t think so. Among the general number of Ukrainian forces, mercenaries are a very small percentage. Two-thirds of Ukrainian soldiers are Russians whom one can even call ethnically Russian. They speak Russian, and many of them think as Russians. Moreover, real Russian volunteers from Russia are fighting on the Ukrainian side. That’s how it is…
Then how then can these “Russian Ukrainians” fire on peaceful cities and conduct punitive actions against their own brothers?
If we’re speaking of the artillery bombardment of peaceful cities, then those who are firing don’t know what they are firing on. They hit wherever they’re given guidance. They don’t know the consequences of their strikes. But the punitive actions are conducted by already totally ferocious nationalists, drugged, brainwashed, and unaccountable for their actions. No reasonable arguments have an effect on them. There develops the impression that methods of neuro-linguistic programming are being practiced on them. This also concerns the volunteers from Russia who are fighting alongside the Ukrainians.
But what are the Ukrainians fighting for?
The Ukrainians? They think they’re fighting for the liberation of the Donbass from “Russian separatists and terrorists,” for national sovereignty, for a unified and indivisible Ukraine, for her independence from Russia. Although among them there are more than a few who understand the situation and that they are fighting their own people. And therefore they only make an appearance of fighting. Generally there are also many who don’t want to fight for anybody. But behind them are the blocking detachments…And there have already been cases when draftees who didn’t wish to fight and left the army were shot by these blocking detachments. They’re killing their own men…
And the people of the Donbass? What are they fighting for?
Note that the Donbass people didn’t attack the Ukrainians, but the Ukrainians attacked them. The people of the Donbass are fighting for their land, the land of their ancestors. And I know with certainty that they will defend it whatever may come. Even if a second “Khasavyurt” occurs, even if Russia refuses to help, they won’t lay down their arms. The Donbass people fight for justice, for the right to be Russians, for Russian culture, for Orthodoxy. And I believe they will win, because truth is with them and God is with them. In the final analysis, the militia are fighting against a satanic Kiev government supported by the West and the United States.
How can we in Russia help the Donbass militia today?
Soon it will be winter. Therefore the militiamen will very much need warm winter sleeping bags, warm-weather items, food, and medical supplies. And of course the Donbass army greatly needs heavy armaments, but that is already another issue…
Collections for humanitarian aid to the Donbass are ongoing throughout Russia, and very actively. And nonetheless is this not enough?
It would be sufficient if the aid collected in Russia was fully delivered to the Donbass. The problem is that it is partially stolen by fraudulent “assistance funds” and partially it just “evaporates.” Meaning that in Russia there exist forces opposed to delivery of aid to the Donbass. People who today are officially engaged in issues of aid, men such as Vladislav Surkov, for example. These people are impeding the delivery of the collected aid packages to the Donbass with all their strength. That’s why the Donbass people should prepare for basic survival…From my part, I am trying to expose this gang of traitors. They’re not going to be able to quietly throw Novorussia to the wolves.
And how probable is a betrayal of Novorussia?
I will say again that even if Russia refuses to help, the men of the Donbass won’t lay down their arms. But I think that the matter won’t reach a betrayal of Novorussia. In Russia there are still concrete people and influential forces that are counteracting this. Even the result of the Minsk Agreements can be considered a Pyrrhic victory of the “treachery faction” of the tribe of Judas, to which Surkov belongs.
Those who signed off on the regulation plan for the situation in the Ukraine’s southeast, i.e. Chubais, Gref, and others, are they also part of this Judas tribe “treachery faction?”
Yes, they also are. They are speculating that Putin doesn’t want a major war and major losses. He doesn’t want Russia to be thought of as an occupied nation. And he’s right in this. But I hope he will do away with the treachery faction. Observing Putin’s actions, I see that he doesn’t plan on leaving the militia to the whims of fate, and he’s not planning to “betray” Novorussia. He is rendering her any assistance that one could in the situation that’s arisen.
Can we ourselves directly send aid to the Donbass, for example, by transferring money to the militia’s financial accounts?
And how will you know if this isn’t a fraudulent account? Plenty of those have been created. Therefore it’s best to give over aid through the churches. We still have such churches where they are collecting aid for the Donbass.
Today in the media they’re whipping up the theme that among the militiamen there are also “bad apples.” Is this so?
Among the militiamen? Well…Not everyone’s a saint there. There are those who instead of fighting guzzle vodka. And then among the commanders…I already said that I’m simply ashamed of some of the commanders.
But most important is nevertheless that those who rebelled in their majority know they are fighting for an idea. They understand that Novorussia is part of the Russian world. And we should all understand that the Donbass up to and including Odessa is part of Russia, a region torn away by coercion in 1991 by traitors to the Russian world. Even more so, to speak of Novorussia as a sovereign entity separate from Russia, and even more as Ukrainian territory, is simply impermissible. Novorussia today is a bastion of Russia.
If we return to the “bad apples,” many have the existing hope that you can return to the Donbass and bring about order there. Many are awaiting for the moment when “Igor will arrive and settle things.”
I have already spoken about this in other interviews. There’s simply no possibility of me returning to the Donbass, if only because no one will allow me to. I wasn’t removed from Novorussia in order to return. And I must disappoint those who are waiting for “Igor to arrive and settle things.” But I have opportunities in Russia to render effective assistance to Novorussia. I didn’t come here to sit in inaction. I will do everything so that the militia is victorious. And we will be victorious. Truth is with us, and God is with us.