Unique chronicles by Mikael Skillt on how the death of a senior Lieutenant unraveled the Russian support in the war zone in southeast Ukraine.
During 2014 while being deployed in the war zone in eastern Ukraine, Mikael came into contact via social media with Dima (Russian senior Lieutenant, who had recently been discharged and got an contract with one of the Russian PMCs that sent him to the war zone in southeast Ukraine). Dima and Mikael made an agreement that if they would survive the war they would meet up on neutral ground, but unfortunately Dima died. Dimas’ friend contacted Mikael, telling that Dima and 4 of his soldiers had been killed in an ambush near the settlement of Zorya by separatist group ’Oplot’, but worth mention, it happened just after Dima refused to follow orders. Apparently, Dima wanted to defect to the Ukrainian side, he was tired of the war and the killings. Dima left a wife and two small children behind when buried in an unmarked grave north of Stila in Donbas.
Nevertheless, Dima had a lot of friends within the Russian army that didn’t approve of how Russia have handled the matter.
That’s why, later on, one of Dima’s friend, Ivan have contacted Mikael and starts explaining how Russia where sending equipment into Ukraine, how they set up training camps in Rostov and how Russian special forces where sent into Ukraine.
The email dreceived from December 2014 explaining how most of the PMC contractors had left Ukraine and behind was parts of Russian regular army as well as volunteers from Russia, mostly being hardcore socialists, drunks or ex prisoners given a choice to fight and be free. Specialists from the Russian army where frequently sent into eastern Ukraine to support the Russia backed separatists trying to build an army with the equipment Russia sent them via uncontrolled border.
Russia sends equipment and personel into Ukraine via Rostov as an FOB and all personel would have to sign up there, while being in Rostov their passports and phones would be taken from them and stored in Rostov, then they would be given documents showing that they where properly enlisted in so-called Luhansks Peoples Republic (hereafter – so-called LPR), once their formal affairs was finished they would be sent by bus to the Ukrainian uncontrolled border and pass into occupied Ukrainian territory, where they would be met by an officer from the local separatists.
It worth mention, that in the very early events during the spring 2014, Russia didn’t supply anything, they were just sending the Cossacks to secure the elections, they were accompanied by a few Russian volunteers, most of them carried their own light equipment, there was very few given to the locals.
This would soon change as resistance grew and Russia understood that this would require a lot more help, massive amounts of small arms and ammunition were sent to so-called LPR, most of it would be leftovers from the Georgian conflict.
During this time the Cossacks grew in numbers and so did the Russian volunteers, all of them were trained by Russian instructors, and some of them were trained outside of Rostov in special weaponry such as tanks T-64, BM-21 Grad or handling of man-portable air-defense system, while infantry training was carried out inside the territory of so-called LPR by several nations from within the Russian federation.
A temporally camp was on the outskirts of Rostov around April 2014, where Russian volunteers where trained in the use of special equipment like anti-tank guided missiles, man-portable air-defense systems, tanks and artillery. This base was moved to Kvaisi (Georgia) late on in August 2014.
But, during the summer 2014 Russia was pouring in weaponry into the occupied Ukrainian territory, including “volunteers” from Ossetia, Chechnya, Abkhazia and Buryatia. Interesting fact is that with mentioned ”volunteers” equipment painted with Ukrainian markings arrived to Ukrainian territory, all not to show the heritage of the equipment. Within Russia documents equipment passing Russian – Ukrainian border belonged to the small states and was given to the separatists as support against Ukrainian government. With those ”volunteers” came full units of Russian armed forces – and GRU units that would oversee and commit covert operations within Ukraine.
All major operations, like the big attack on International Donetsk Airport, where carried out by these guys and some other experienced groups under GRU command in Rostov. As well as most tanks. To be able to move troops and to attack fairly unnoticed by the OSCE representatives, Russian officers would approach the OSCE and tell them that is wasn’t safe to go into that area due to fighting, and while OSCE was waiting for things to slow down they would bring in full battalions to attack and then retreat leaving only local separatists in the area.
All of this was possible due to the fixed schedule of the OSCE drone patrolling the borders, a schedule everyone was aware off.
During the late summer 2014 Russia kept sending equipment and even decided to send very unique equipment, since they noticed that the West really didn’t care even that it couldn’t be any question marks regarding who that was supporting the separatists. Now tank T-72 and man-portable rocket launcher like RPOs started to flow cross the Russian – Ukrainian border. More advanced equipment arrived, some T-72, lots of RPOs, and more BM-21 Grads, than the whole Ukraine ever had [the author admits].
The ”volunteers” turned out to be a complicated group to control and several fights broke out between regular Russian army and the local warlords wanting to go on an rampage against what they saw as growing fascism in Ukraine, they where considered to be a liability for the Russians since they refused to follow orders and caused more trouble then expected, they where behind a lot of the rising criminality in the area.
By December 2014 most of the local warlords within so-called LNR was dealt with either by force or by politics, meaning that those that didn’t get killed ended up moving to so-called Donetsk Peoples Republic (hereafter – so-calls DPR), where they could have a more free reign under Motorola or Givi. Maybe the most infamous group to leave so-called LNR for so-called DNR was the battalion under Alexandr ”Batman” Bednov, within this battalion was the only known openly neo-nazi group fighting for a ”Novorossiya”.
Now the majority of the fighting force in so-called LPR are under Russian command, there’s still smaller groups of locals, which resist but they’re the minority.
In November 2014 a surge of Russian soldiers was sent into Ukraine, but their main mission wasn’t to wage war but to keep the separatists under control and provide them with enough weapons and equipment for the separatists to be able to fight on without winning, this mission have led to quite a few bursts of openly hostilities between Russian armed forces and local warlords, killing at least two commanders of the ”Novorossiya” forces. But the leadership within the two ”states” are under control and they control most of their forces without any trouble.
And still today in mid 2016 Russian armed forces are upholding this tactics, supplying, training and allowing Russian backed separatists attacking Ukrainian army positions giving them no time to rest up and violated Minsk agreements over and over and with that no sign of peace and reconstruction of Ukraine.