March 29, 2015
Maria Lebedeva for LB.ua
Translated by Kristina Rus
Our conversation took place on the day the “Right Sector” was ordered to leave the area of the ATO, and a new head of administration was introduced in Dnepropetrovsk. The leader of the “Right Sector” shared with us how he sees the situation, and also spoke about the relationship with the authorities, the future of the volunteer battalions, and much more.
About the order to leave the area ATO
I was preparing the draft laws on social protection of volunteers, but, as far as I understand, the President put a stop to it. In my opinion, Poroshenko does not understand still, what country he lives in, does not understand the realities. I am not forcing events from my side. And they are shaking the situation for some reason. Our politicians who have become state officials, by circumstances, by the will of the people, by the blood that was spilled on the Maidan [did not earn the power themselves, but were given the power by those like Yarosh – KR], in this war are too dependent on the opinions from abroad. Putin, Merkel, Hollande. They are given an algorithm of behavior, and they will follow it. Even if it is at the expense of national interests, even the sacred, the blood of the guys who died. This is where it “shoots” from. [The government betrayed the patriots, surprise – the “patriots” served their role and are no longer needed, but they don’t want to step back – KR]
I realized this even at the airport. They begged me for a long time to take the Right Sector out of there. When the fighting intensity came down due to the “truce,” which was quite ephemeral. At the end of November I pulled the fighters. Often my guys stopped the [UAF] soldiers from running away and under a barrel of a gun simply did not allow to give up the airport. [This is a war of the “radical patriots” and not of the people of Ukraine, and Yarosh doesn’t get it, thinking most of them are traitors of the motherland – KR] Twice we were given the order to leave the airport.
As soon as we left – the old terminal was surrendered. It became clear that the new terminal is next – in a matter of time it will be either captured or surrendered.
Although we offered a lot of options. To move the firing positions outside of its territory. To blow up the runway across, to dig a trench, 600 meters from the control tower, which we controlled. We went there first, and then brought in the experienced soldiers. Captured the height over the airfield. That is, we planned to fully capture it, and under normal control and operations there would be no problems with retaining this location. We even proposed to build a new terminal!
They looked at us, like… But it is very simple. Need shipping containers, they are dug into the ground, filled with soil, even a tank can’t get them, it can be done in one day. They didn’t agree to anything. Now there is a [Right Sector] company in Shirokino, another scandal began. I was already told that there is an order for the withdrawal of troops of the Right Sector from Peski and Shirokino, and anyway, we’re represented across the entire front, I have medical brigades and combat units. Many do not like it. Including soldiers.
About the relations with the army
When our guys are under fire, they, as a rule, do not sit back and fire in response. Mainly, we are in good relations with those brigades, with which we fought before together [thats it? – KR]. But before the injury, when I was in Lugansk region, near Schastje, drove the medics, we were not accepted well… But there the war is different than in Donetsk region. Checkpoints are close to each other. They even go to visit each other (laughs). Like it was in Afghanistan, when field commanders agreed among themselves, existed peacefully. Until there was an incident when national guardsmen on a jeep flew into a checkpoint to the other side without stopping (were drunk), and they were shot. From our side they began to pull APC’s, to take them out, from that side they began to pull the heavy weapons, and that’s how it starts.
About lawmaking, plans and relations with the authorities
I want to introduce some bills, to form the armed forces under three categories: conscripts, contractors and volunteers. To make DUK [Volunteer Corps] a volunteer reserve, with its own area of responsibility. One of the bills I have already registered. My assistants betrayed me. Of course, changes will have to be made in other legislation.
It will be a natural relationship of the armed forces and volunteers. We never subordinated to them. We initially established normal relations with the main command. Only those suggestions that we have received back in the spring… Initially, for example, agreed in the AP [Presidential Administration], with Pashinsky that we will work under the main directorate of intelligence. But in the Ministry of Defense, they tell us: “Territorial defense” in God knows which region. Wait, but we talked about something else?! “No, we’ll change it later…” Uh, no, guys, I say, I know your Ministry of Defense, the bureaucracy, you will find any reason not to let us fight. Had to refuse. And later there were many such proposals. To join one brigade, then another. Everyone who wanted to go, went to “Aidar”, “Azov”, UAF, we do not force anyone. But there are people who don’t believe the military commanders, and have reasons not to believe. After Ilovaysk, Debaltsevo.
Now I talk with the fighters, they ask: “Who are you leaving us to rip us apart?” If they (the government – ed.) managed well, if we had normal upgraded armed forces, with normal approach to staff, there would be no need for any DUC, nor anything else. And what I see, not in all, but in many units – no work with the staff. So that a political officer would come, explained the political situation, explained the motivation, why you are here, why to storm or to protect an object, this doesn’t happen. [Ukrainian soldiers don’t understand what they are fighting for, and Yarosh wants to explain it to them – KR] This is the Soviet model, they do not work. But we are doing everything according to NATO standards. The lack of bureaucracy gives full mobility. We are not perfect, but much more efficient than today’s regular army. If only we had sufficient quantity of weapons, I think, we would outnumber the armed forces (laughs). I know many, among the commanders and fighters of armed forces of Ukraine, who would immediately come to our side, if we were given weapons.
They [the authorities] only can’t understand one thing – they think that I am competing with them for power. I don’t need it at all!. If I wanted power – I would have long started to work on that. All I want is to win the war and to babysit grandchildren – nothing more.
[Didn’t you just describe how you want to call the shots? – KR]
(Wife Olga: “What about me?!..” – Yarosh: “Well, and you, of course, sweetie! We will babysit each other!”)
They added amendments to the bills that I proposed, at the last session on Thursday they were supposed to vote, but did not vote, and it is unclear if they will vote at all, after all these statements about the “cynical Banderites” [Poroshenko slip of tongue – KR], and “those who love to shoot” (regarding the killing of the SBU agent – ed.)… I know that he (Poroshenko – ed) is afraid of us. Can’t stand us. I told him everything in his face. When Ilovaysk happened, and the first agreements. The battle is raging, and I am told – “Minsk agreement is signed”. Called his assistant, said, tell him it’s complete idiocy. And the betrayal of national interests. And also said: we toppled Yanukovych and can topple you too. He got very offended.
I can understand a lot: diplomatic maneuveringg, buying time, creating the armed forces. But what killed me was a truce in September. Debaltsevo. There was, for example, the moment when in Gorlovka only a company of the separatists was left, we could go in there. Debaltsevo could be prevented. And what? No orders. Lost a chance, they were building up forces. And we were denied requests for arms. But they (the authorities – ed) are afraid of the Right Sector more than of the terrorists, obviously.
On foreign instructors
Every experience should be adopted. Will come in handy. We also hired instructors, they came from all over the place. Our army did not fight, their army came back from Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on. When instructors see that our guys are interested, they are happy to share the knowledge, it is very useful. They compared, went to the army. They say this is not a drill, they [army soldiers – KR] are not interested. They do one hour of training, and done. But the volunteers light up, they have a million questions, of course, the instructors love it. In one of my battalions there are four Georgian instructors, they also went through training. When they work, they are very organized. Perfect supply, communications. When they see someone managing a battle with text messages on a cell phone (laughs), it’s hard for them to understand.
On the work in the Verkhovna Rada
I didn’t really want to do it, the truth is, the guys came up with the idea, I did not really want it, knew that it’s not for me.
What will happen to the volunteer battalions
Legitimization of the status may help to save the volunteer units. But DUK just cannot go under the subordination of the armed forces, under their command. Because it means we will be liquidated. I have some commanders without higher military education, and some even without any higher education. They will immediately loose their positions. But they are more efficient than those with two diplomas. We must have our own system of knowledge, hierarchy, and the opportunity to grow. This should be reflected in the law. Then, after the war, if they wish, they can receive a higher education. Our Charter says: DUK is formed and operates only during the period of war [undeclared? – KR]. We will return Crimea, restore our territorial integrity, and then dissolve. We have more discipline than the army. But it is normal to see a commander on the front lines. Find me a general, who will come there and lead the men from the trenches.
Our fighters are well provided with helmets, body armor, and so on. We are supported by volunteer organizations. If we will depend on [state] tenders, it will be useless. We never set a goal to obtain heavy equipment, we are light infantry, at most – we can have mortars. Will not say no to tanks, of course, but it is not the goal. We offer a completely different model of warfare. After air reconnaissance, armored pickups or “Cougars” can appear at the front, work on a target in three minutes and disappear. The [enemy’s] artillery will cover the position, but there will be no one there.
About the “ceasefire”
It is relative, we see that there is fighting on many fronts. How long it will last – depends on Putin and his decisions. They have assembled forces for a strike, they will have deceptive battles, and there will be the main ones. 3-4 shock troops they already have. There are some in Donetsk, they may go to Konstantinovka, Slavyansk, for them it is symbolic. The second direction is Mariupol. The third – Stanitsa Luganskaya, Schastye, another cauldron may develop there. And Volnovakha. They will wait until the fields are dry to start the offensive. We don’t see their chessboard, may be they will have aviation.
About relations with Kolomoisky
I saw him twice in my life, there is no special relationship. With Gennady Korban, Slava Oleynik, Boris Filatov I have a friendly relationship. But then again, we also met after the revolution. War, so to speak, made us friends. I judge by real results. I saw that the guys are working not for their own pocket but for the country. That’s the main thing.
Although I hear different things about “Privat”, and I don’t deny it. Gena wrote yesterday in FB, that in our country the conditions are such that you cannot legally do business. And it’s true. If you want to achieve anything, you have to violate the rules, and only then you will achieve something. I am very grateful for everything they’ve done for us, even though we never asked for anything. Help with the body armor, helmets, cars, without them it would be much harder. I am grateful to them, as a resident of this region. We saw the situation in Kharkov, Odessa, couldn’t do this there. But they managed to do it, despite the influence of Vilkul clan, which has considerable influence here. We will ensure that they (the members of the clan – ed.) don’t raise their head, we can’t afford to lose the Dnepropetrovsk region. Without options.