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Rebel Commander: Kiev Intrasigence, Military Buildup Guarantee War Will Resume

Basque reporter spoke to a commander in the left-leaning Ghost Brigade of the Donbass rebels, the rebel commander fully expects the war to resume.

  • "The Ukrainian fascists are in the government and it is impossible to reach a stable agreement with them. They don’t want to live with anyone who thinks differently or is of another nationality, so it's useless to talk with them."
  • "This time they have prepared their army for war. They have won time to repair tanks and train their troops. Their artillery also works much better. Ukraine now has a much better and more effective army and from here on will take advantage of any ceasefire to gain an advantage over the militias."
  • "I think that people on both sides of the front can end the junta. But in Ukraine there is a very powerful repressive system. By that I mean not only that demonstrations are dispersed by force. More than that, now in Ukraine someone can disappear with impunity, just as in any fascist military dictatorship."
  • "Many commanders see with great resignation that a year after the Russian Spring, the state of Novorossiya has not been created. For now we only have the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, and many of those in seats of power were there two years ago."
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This article originally appeared in Berria - a Basque language daily. It was translated by Greg Butterfield at Red Star Over Donbass


"We will have to work harder to achieve our goals"
"We will have to work harder to achieve our goals"

Military incidents have increased significantly in eastern Ukraine in recent days. According to Commander Alexey Markov, Dobriy, open warfare will resume due to the constant violations of the ceasefire agreed to in Minsk. Markov is the political commissar and commander of Unit 404, which brings together communists from Russia in the Ghost Brigade, one of the most important Novorossiyan military forces. He welcomed Berria in his office at the headquarters of the Ghost Brigade to talk about the Minsk ceasefire, war and politics.

The Minsk accords are at risk of collapsing after the fighting that has occurred in recent weeks. What will happen to the ceasefire that’s now in effect?

On Monday and Tuesday, the Ukrainian forces began active bombing against our positions. Now we will reply. The two Minsk agreements were invalid all along. The Ukrainian fascists are in the government and it is impossible to reach a stable agreement with them. They don’t want to live with anyone who thinks differently or is of another nationality, so it's useless to talk with them.

In September, when the first ceasefire was signed, they needed to regroup and reorganize. They were afraid of being defeated. I and some other commanders did not understand how we could give them such an opportunity.

This time they have prepared their army for war. They have won time to repair tanks and train their troops. Their artillery also works much better. Ukraine now has a much better and more effective army and from here on will take advantage of any ceasefire to gain an advantage over the militias.

I think war will resume in the near future. There will be ceasefires and truces, but the war in Donbass will continue until one side is defeated. I hope we win the war so the Kiev junta will fall. Only then can the Ukrainian people live in peace with themselves and with neighboring countries.

How can you affect the current political situation in Ukraine beyond Donbass?

I think that people on both sides of the front can end the junta. But in Ukraine there is a very powerful repressive system. By that I mean not only that demonstrations are dispersed by force. More than that, now in Ukraine someone can disappear with impunity, just as in any fascist military dictatorship.

And there is, for example, the case of journalist Ruslan Kotsaba. They want to impose a sentence of 15 years in prison against someone who was an activist of the Maidan movement, just for encouraging his countrymen not to go to war. To indict him, the government has presented as evidence statements against the war broadcast on television and interviews given to Russian news channels.

How about the Unit 404 under your command, will it become part of the army of Lugansk?

We have spent a year waiting to join the army. While I believe it will be positive, at the same time there is still much work that remains. For now there is no more than an idea to unite the two republics, up to now a specific plan has not been established.

Many commanders see with great resignation that a year after the Russian Spring, the state of Novorossiya has not been created. For now we only have the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, and many of those in seats of power were there two years ago. But that does not mean we should give up. In fact, from now on we will have to work harder to achieve our goals.

So you think that the creation of the state of Novorossiya will be a long process?

We formed the Ghost Brigade with nationalist, monarchist and communist forces. We all agreed to insist on the need for people’s power. We believe that the oligarchy should be removed from political power, contrary to what happens in Ukraine and, unfortunately, also in Russia.

As you know, it would be impossible for the militias to resist without Russian help, including military help. But in Russia there is also an elite that agrees with the Ukrainian oligarchy against the people of Donbass.

What will come of the union of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics?

In the summer we had a government elected by the people, but now former officials and envoys of the Kremlin are in power. I will not go into whether that is right or wrong, it's just reality.

Last summer, if the Communists, or the people around us, had raised the flag of popular power, we would have had a chance to make a real popular revolution.

Unfortunately, here in Novorossiya, as everywhere, the communist parties have become parliamentary parties. Now they make compromises quickly and effectively block all options that could lead to social change.

I am a peaceful person, I never would have thought I would have to take up arms. But eventually, if you're not willing to take up arms to defend your people or to fight, you cannot call yourself a communist.

Some leftist movements agreed with the protests on Maidan Square. What do you think?

It seems understandable that the left would defend Maidan at first; the first slogans were against the oligarchy. But soon, the nationalists and then the fascists took the lead in the demonstrations.

When the protests began last year, the demands were already not against the oligarchy. They wanted a quick change of power, so they could insert fascist and nationalist forces in parliament. In the 1930s in Germany, the Nazis of the National Socialist Party also promised to take power on behalf of the people and not for distribution among the oligarchs.

A year after Maidan, the oligarchs remain in the government, the standard of living of Ukraine has worsened, there are constant losses in the army ... and they cover all of it in a chauvinist exaltation of Ukraine and anti-Russian sentiment.

The capture of Debaltsevo has become a symbol of the war. The Ghost Brigade led the operation, with the unit you command at its head. How was the battle of Debaltsevo?

What happened there was not as nice as it was sold in the media. The press here gave an image that does not correspond to what we saw from within. Many see it as a victory, but in the military sense it was not so positive.

Is that due to the number of casualties that occurred?

Debaltsevo is a very strategic area that is difficult to take. The Red Army also paid much to recover it in the Second World War. We suffered many hardships in February. The Ukrainians had reinforced themselves a lot. They had plenty of staff and equipment. In addition to artillery, tanks and heavy weapons, they had more personnel than us. Knowing that, we went to Debaltsevo prepared to give everything.

If we had more time to prepare the operation, we could have avoided many of the casualties we suffered. The high number of casualties was not only a result of the Ukrainian’s superior weaponry, but because we made mistakes when implementing the Debaltsevo operation.

I’m not going to give details, that's between the commanders, but in fact, we believed that Ukrainians were going to give us a beating. In the end it turned out otherwise.

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