Interview by Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin
(Komsomolskaya Pravda (“KP”))
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov / Edited by S. Naylor & @GBabeuf
Igor Strelkov: I Saw No Ammo Like That During the First or the Second Chechen War
A: We don’t expect an assault in the next few days. However, the enemy will surely try to probe our defences, just as they did last night in Artyom village. No matter—we hit one of their “BTR” APCs.
They’ve surrounded the city with artillery; at each checkpoint they put between two and four tanks. Overall, they’re conducting a proper siege, trying periodically to interrupt our communication lines. The electricity supply has been cut off in the city, the water [supply] is blocked. The pipe was repaired, but flaps have been cut off around the Donetsk village: water is being delivered only from artesian wells and rivers.
Q: In other words, are you saying that destruction as a result of bombardment isn’t to blame for the lack of water? This is an intentional disconnection by the Ukrainian side?
A: Exactly so. The emergency at the water supply line was resolved by the municipal services, and the water was [then] cut off by order of the Ukrainian military; same with the electricity. Today, a brigade sent by “Donbassenergo” reached us from Gorlovka, in order to repair the power lines between Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. Despite an existing agreement, the Ukrainian military refused to let them into the region.
Q: What’s happening on the other fronts—in Donetsk, in Lugansk?
A: The enemy continues to advance towards Donetsk. They’ve put up new checkpoints in the vicinity of Kurakhovo, Konstantinovka and Ukrainsk. Step by step, they’re advancing on Donetsk, attempting to encircle it.
Q: Are attacks on multiple fronts possible?
A: The have a great number of tanks, soldiers and artillery. In theory, that should be enough. They’re experiencing very serious problems with discipline and morale. At the checkpoints, there’s generalised drunkenness; soldiers are refusing to follow their commanding officers’ orders. There are already instances of armed confrontations between units of the NatsGvardiya [National Guard] and of the Ministry of Defence. [Their] army isn’t just unprofessional, it also doesn’t want to fight. They’re prepared to fire from afar at city blocks with cannons and mortars, or to batter Semyonovka with tanks from a safe distance. Yet when it comes to direct combat, no one’s willing [to fight].
Q: What can you say about the strange incendiary ammunitions used by the [Ukrainian] army? There’s talk of white phosphorus charges.
A: I’m not such a big military expert that I can determine the type of ammunition by its appearance. In practice, I’ve never encountered such ammo. Neither during the first, nor during the second Chechen campaign. At first I thought these were low-altitude discharges of so-called “chandeliers”—special lighting bombs. However, “chandeliers” have to be suspended on parachutes. Here we’re talking about a [type of] cluster ammunition, which explodes in the air and floods certain areas with an incendiary mix. I don’t know what type of ammunition this is.
Q: The Militia tell us that professional tank and mortar crews have appeared on the Ukrainian side. Have they learned how to fight or are we talking about mercenaries?
A: I think that we’re still talking about particular detachments of the Ukrainian army. We shouldn’t dismiss the enemy as talentless and useless. In every army, even the most dilapidated, there are professionals, masters of their craft, who can teach others willing to learn. However, it doesn’t take a genius to remain in a stationary position, in absolute safety, two and a half kilometres away, and shoot at one spot day after day.
Q: Are the Militia seeing a growth in professionalism?
A: The Militia is progressively turning into a fighting force, able to defensively counteract the enemy. Given the enemy’s colossally overwhelming superiority in heavy armaments, it’s simply madness to attack them.
Q: Information has appeared on the internet—citing you—that some kind of ammunition with chemical or bacteriological weapons markings is being unloaded at the airport near Kramatorsk…
A: It’s very difficult to unload anything at that airport. It’s half controlled by the Militia—at least its civilian part. Helicopters can land only on its most remote part. The Militia can’t observe it from its positions. Accordingly, I can’t comment on that—I don’t have any such information. We do have information that some odd train cars with strange markings have been unloaded, under heavy guard, between Cherkasskiy and Bylbasovka.
We suspect that something unconventional is being unloaded there. However, it’s impossible to say if this is chemical or bacteriological weaponry: we can only suspect this. Who it is that spread this information under my name, I don’t know. On the internet, I write only on one known platform, and several people have permission to retype these messages verbatim. And in the past three days I’ve had no ability to go on the internet. In the city, we have practically no access.