Novorossiya volunteers are forming Syria units


October 23, 2015 – 

Yurii Kovalchuk, PolitNavigator – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski

“Nightmare for ISIS: Novorossiya militiamen are going to Syria”

Yurii Kovalchuk is a journalist and participant of the “Somali” battalion of the DPR militia. 

The relative lull in Donbass as well as economic realities have driven dozens, if not hundreds, of defenders of the Russian World into the thick of the civil war in the Middle East.

The functions of militiamen in fraternal Syria are primarily concerned with training local forces to use warfare technology in urban environments and assisting in the clean-up of large cities. Volunteers are also protecting convoys and strategic assets. Sometimes they hold workshops on reconnaissance, and if unofficial sources at the headquarters of the 1st Army Corps are to be believed, sabotage and reconnaissance militiamen have more than once sown chaos and panic of varying degrees of intensity among the ranks of terrorists. 

War is almost like a drug: despite all of its horrors and tribulations, veterans want once again to return to such a state of consciousness. After tense discipline and the daring fatalism of hostilities, returning to civilian life is difficult. This is why many veterans of Afghanistan and Chechnya, despite their age, participate in each campaign. Now, as the conflict in Donbass has reached a protracted state of “neither peace nor war”, many Russian and Ukrainian militia volunteers are going to Syria. 

However, unlike the Russians, the citizens of former Ukraine often have simply nowhere to go. Many people do not find themselves fitting in the established Novorossiyan army, which significantly differs from the free-ranging militias, and they have no where to return. In occupied Ukraine, jail at best and a painful death at worst awaits them. At the same time, finding a good-paying civilian life in Novorossiya is difficult now. 

“I simply have no choice. I served for a year. My family pleaded me to stop fighting. But, in the end, I realized that I am just unable to support my wife and children. All I could find was a security guard position with a slary of 7-10 thousand rubles. This money is barely enough to survive. You can go into the army, bu pay there is also little – about 15-16 thousand rubles, and payments are delayed for a few months. Plus, there is a constant risk. If you risk your life, it’s only for a normal amount of money, which my family can sufficiently live on or at least save a bit,” the ex-militiaman with the call-sign “Hedgehog” said. 

Hedgehog came to the war in the middle of March, 2014. He fought in Kramatorsk, near Yampol, in Snezh, and at the Donetsk airport. He left the militia at the beginning of 2015 after a serious injury. However, living a peaceful life wasn’t successful for long. Now, the fighter actively communicates with former comrades with the aim of creating a unit for participating in the fighting in Syria.

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A source at the headquarters of the 1st Army Corps of the DPR confirmed that there is an unofficial set of volunteers going to Syria. The salary is 1-1.5 thousand dollars plus insurance. Militiamen from “Sparta,” “Pyatnashka” and a number of other units have already responded to the proposal. 

As it turns out, among the ranks of the armed forces of the LPR and DPR there are fighters who already found time to visit the battlefields in war-torn Syria. Alas, there are victims, and at the end of September the death of the militiaman with the callsign “Peresvet” became known. The fighter tripped a land-mine not far from the city of Kobani. 

“Blind” is one of the militiamen of Novorossiya who already managed to visit Syria. He is currently gathering a group for a new mission. He already has Chechnya and Abkhazia under his belt. Since September, 2014, he fought in one of the Cossack units on the territory of the LPR. In Novorossiya, things got too boring for him in the middle of April, so via contacts in the Russian Armed Forces, he found the opportunity to fight in the Middle East. Now he’s come back to gather a unit of trusted people. 

According to Blind, those wishing to go to Syria have to be careful. The price of the question is quite high, so the number of rogues ready to cash in on volunteers has multiplied. In the best case, they will lose time and money. In the worst case, you can really go to Syria, but on the wrong side of the barricades and will replenish the fund of exchanges for those captured by the terrorists, or even become a suicide bomber.

All the talk about mythical private military companies gathering volunteers for Syria proves to be nonsense. Especially because, according to Russian legislation, those participating in hostilities in the composition of a private military company might be considered mercenaries, and get jailed for 4 to 8 years. Recruitment is carried out through the military.

Blind is sure that if the necessity for a full-scale ground operation appears in Syria, they will take all of those wishing to go. Now only the best of the best go there on missions.

Blind has a dismissive attitude towards local combatants. The fighter claims that there is little heavy equipment and artillery in Syria, and that fights are conducted using mainly small arms. Both the regular army and the terrorists don’t know how to use artillery and tanks, and they shoot randomly, instantly retreating after the loss of a single piece of equipment. Overall, both sides are not fighting as fiercely as the militiamen fought against the UAF. 

Indeed, the cannibalistic policy of Kiev which attempted to forcefully “Ukrainize” Donbass generated thousands of ruthless and fearless warriors, which doesn’t bode well for soldiers of the UAF or the terrorists of ISIS. It’s one thing to decapitate a prisoner or a civilian, and quite another to come face to face with people that defended Slavyansk and Saur-Mogil, defended the Donetsk airport, and fought at Debaltsevo. It is likely that militiamen from Novorossiya will become the very force that wipes ISIS off the face of the earth. Unless, of course, the truce in Donbass will be violated. 

However, if Kiev will decide on another grand adventure, then overseas missions will fall out of favor among the militia. For too long has the desire been brewing for revenge against the Ukrainians for the thousands of civilians killed, cities ruined, and comrades lost. 

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