Igor Strelkov: Genuine fascists are advancing against us, fascists in the very same sense that our predecessors understood this word. Monsters. Murderers. Bandits. Marauders. Pure “Polizei”—Banderovtsy, just as they once were.
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov / edited by @GBabeuf
Q: What happened today? This is the key question that all of us, without exaggeration, want answers to.
Igor Strelkov: Last night, we effected a breakout from within a closing enemy encirclement, which was, in fact, already closed off. We performed a diversion against the positions of the enemy at the “Slavyansk” stele [Note: the Slavyansk city sign]. Our armoured group conducted the assault.
Unfortunately—and I won’t hide it—the larger part of the armoured group was eliminated in the course of the attack. This wasn’t so much connected with—well, regrettably, it was an error on the part of the commander of the armoured group that led to this. He made an incorrect decision while carrying out his assigned task.
Nevertheless, between eighty and ninety percent of the personnel and ninety percent of the armaments were transferred out of the city. The number of dead and wounded isn’t that great, we’ve confirmed it. As well, we were able to evacuate a significant number of the families of our servicemen and other individuals that had helped us, and for whom remaining in the city would have been life threatening.
The breakthrough took the enemy completely by surprise. We adopted the necessary concealment measures. In that regard, we’re awaiting those heroes who are now breaking through on their way to us, who gave us covering fire from the trenches as a diversion and demonstrated our presence on the defence positions.
Q: Igor Ivanovich, that deals with the outcome of what happened, but many are equally concerned about a plan for the future.
Igor Strelkov: We’ll continue our military activities. We’ll try not to make the mistakes we made in the past. These errors, in reality, were not mistakes as much as simply the consequences of a blatant lack of weapons and ammunition.
We hope that we’ll be able to prepare for the next enemy offensive in a more diligent manner and without giving the enemy the opportunity to capture the key strongholds that they were able to take over so easily when we only had a few automatic rifles to our name.
Q: Some have claimed that you’ve apparently abandoned your responsibilities and removed yourself from your role, even that you have fled to Crimea, to Krasniy Perekopsk. Have you resigned or not?
Igor Strelkov: (smiling) Well, if this [around us] were Crimea or Krasniy Perekopsk, then, well… I don’t know… I guess so… But I’m currently in Donetsk.
In addition to my direct duties I plan to create, tomorrow, by my Order as the Minister of Defence, a Central Military Council, which will include all the key field commanders, independent of their direct responsibilities, and where we’ll coordinate all questions relating to the defence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and, possibly, in part, those dealing with the Lugansk People’s Republic—provided they’re within our jurisdiction in the military theatre. And, moreover, until one is appointed, I’ll be performing the functions of Military Commandant of the city, as well as those of Commander of the city garrison.
In other words, we’ll be preparing Donetsk for active defence, to ensure that it isn’t taken over by the enemy. Well, at the very least, as much as we did in Slavyansk, and certainly much more. In reality, with sufficient troops, Donetsk is much easier and more convenient to defend than the little city of Slavyansk.
Q: A final request. Regardless of how strongly I may sympathize with your circumstances, as a journalist, I have a duty to ask this question: with respect to Slavyansk, what can you say to those people who stayed behind?
Igor Strelkov: (sighing deeply) First of all, I should like to ask them for their forgiveness for failing to retain the city. Our decision to break out of the city, and not to die there, was motivated not only by a desire to save the garrison itself—which is natural for any commander—but also by the fact that we realized that we couldn’t hold it; and that, meanwhile the city would’ve been subjected to ever greater destruction and would’ve suffered even more casualties.
Right now I’m receiving information that, just as was expected, unfortunately, despite the fact that we evacuated the majority of those who helped and volunteered with us, the enemy has engaged in a massacre there. In Slavyansk, in Kramatorsk and in Nikolayevka.
Because today, pursuant to my order, we also withdrew our garrison from Kramatorsk. The battalion that was defending it has been redeployed here, to Donetsk, in order to reinforce our positions. Defending it had become entirely futile after the enemy had taken Artymovsk. It would simply have led to the encirclement of another city.
In any event, of course, the information that they engaged in a massacre there, in the Artyom district to begin with, I am waiting for confirmation of it, but I already have several sources reporting the same information, that the NatsGvardiya [Note: Ukrainian National Guard] exacted revenge for their numerous losses on the people [of Slavyansk]. All the same, our endeavour to avoid victims among the civilian population didn’t save the population from being victimized.
For those who believe that they would be saved from repressions if the Militia left without putting up a fight, this is confirmation that they would not. Genuine fascists are advancing against us, fascists in the very same sense that our predecessors understood this word. Monsters. Murderers. Bandits. Marauders. Pure “Polizei”—Banderovtsy, just as they once were. Despite the fact that eighty years have passed—not eighty, seventy.
They’re genuine Nazis who hide behind the ideas of “United Ukraine” to perpetrate ethnic cleansing. And they’re effecting it. And that’s why we’ll be resisting in Donetsk just as we’ve been resisting them in Slavyansk—only far more successfully.