October 24, 2016 – Fort Russ Exclusive –
Interview by Silvia Missotti for Fort Russ –
Translated by J. Arnoldski –
Bracketed commentary by Eduard Popov –
On October 15th, Italian journalist Silvia Missotti, the Russia correspondent for the Italian publication “L’Opinione Pubblica” interviewed a Serbian volunteer from the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic known by the name Filip. Silvia Missotti has generously offered this text of the interview for exclusive publication on Fort Russ. Filip respectfully declined to be photographed or video-recorded.
Silvia Missotti: Filip, please tell us briefly about yourself and why you decided to come to fight in the war in Donbass.
Filip: I was in the ranks of the DPR militia for 10 months starting in May 2014. Both then and now, other Serbs have come to fight. I served as an officer in the Serbian army for some time, so by the time I came to Donbass, I already had combat experience. I fought against Albanian terrorists in Kosovo and Metohija. So I was professionally ready for fighting in Donbass.
Why did I come to Donbass to fight on the side of the DPR? I consider this question unnecessary for a Serb. Russian volunteers fought in the Serbian army [in the Serbo-Turkish and Montenegrin-Ottoman wars of 1876] and then in the Bosnian Serbs’ army during the civil war in Yugoslavia. Serbs, in turn, fought in the ranks of the Russian army in the Russo-Japanese War [1904-1905]. Serbs and Russians are two bodies with one spirit. We came to help just like the Russians came to help us.
I also consider it necessary to emphasize that this land on which the fight is taking place is both Russian and Serbian land. In the 18th century, Serbs migrated to the Russian Empire and Novorossiya in particular. There were two Serb settlements here, Novoserbiya and Slavyano-Serbia (now Slavyansk). Back then there was no Ukraine, just Novorossiya and Malorossiya.
SM: What parties or movements in Serbia have organized sending Serbian volunteers?
F: No one in Serbia deals with organizing sending volunteers to this war. Serbia is closely controlled by Big Brother and so all politicians are afraid of playing any part in the fate of volunteers. We all come to Donbass at our own risk.
I personally was inspired by the moral example of Vojislav Seselj, a politician who until recently spent 12 years under investigation in the Hague before being acquitted. I consider myself a supporter of Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party, but I am not a member. I think that many Serbian volunteers share the same views and sympathies. It is no accident that there were many Chetniks among the Serbian volunteers in Crimea and Donbass.
SM: How many Serbs have taken part in the war in Donbass?
F: According to the information I have, up to 200 Serbs have fought at different times in the militias and armies of both Donbass republics. I can confidently say that Serbs have proven themselves in battle against the fascists and Western mercenaries. Unfortunately, not without losses. On Sunday October 16th, there was a funeral service for the Serbian volunteer Vladimir Stanimirovich. He was killed together with his commander, a volunteer from Russia with the callsign “Chelyab”, in fierce fighting near Kominternovo. I didn’t know Vladimir, but my friends say he was a wonderful guy. He left a wife and small child at home. As the Serbian press has written, he didn’t tell his family that he was going to fight in Donbass. I am sure that Serbs and Russians will worthily avenge his death!
SM: What do you and your like-minded fellow Serbs see as the reason for the war in Donbass?
F: When fascists seized power in Ukraine and began banning the Russian language and imposing the cult of Bandera, the Russians of Donbass rose up. For them, this was a matter of their people’s survival. The hypocritical West, which cares about civil rights only in words, stubbornly does not want to see that the Ukrainian government is pursuing a policy of genocide against the Russian population. They ban the Russian language, but the whole population of Donbass and Novorossiya speaks Russian. They impose a cult of false heroes like Bandera and Shukhevych who were Hitler’s mercenaries, but the Russian Soviet army smashed Bandera’s units to smithereens.
The modern Ukrainian fascists will also be broken – I am sure of this. If the Ukrainian fascists don’t arrive at the truth, then the truth will come to them. And truth means retribution for their deeds. Unfortunately, then it will be too late to fix anything.
SM: What do you know about the Ukrainian side’s casualties and the losses among the civilian population of Donbass? The UN’s official data (from June 2016) speaks of 9,300 killed among soldiers and civilians, but Kiev suggests 2,870 among soldiers (as of March 1st, 2016). Yet independent sources say that the Ukrainians have lost more than 30,000 servicemen from all security structures. In your opinion, how accurate is this data?
F: It’s difficult for me to answer this question because I never studied the statistics of losses among the Ukrainians and civilian population. But my personal opinion is that the real losses are 10 times higher than the official statistics both for the Ukrainian military and the civilian population. I think that the true figure is closer to 30,000 killed from the UAF and other security agencies. However, it is possible that even this figure is too low.
My Russian comrades-in-arms told me that between the beginning of May 2014 and the beginning of serious fighting, the lake near Svyatogorsk [a small town near Lugansk where the famous Svyatogarsk Lavra Orthodox monastery is located] was littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers. Plus a huge number of unburied bodies of Ukrainian soldiers laid along the road – I saw this with my own eyes in the summer of 2014.
But you won’t find these losses in official Ukrainian statistics, because the government is afraid to tell the people the truth. Otherwise, it would turn out that Poroshenko and the Ukrainian fascists are waging a war not only against Donbass, but against their own people.
SM: How do you assess your opponent – Ukrainian troops and Western mercenaries? What is their professional level and level of motivation?
F: Ukrainian soldiers have no desire to fight. Only the fascists from the volunteer battalions feel the urge to fight. But when Ukrainian artillery men are captured, they start making excuses that they didn’t know what they were shooting at. They are deliberately lying. I personally did not encounter any foreign soldiers, but I think that they are largely present as military advisors. The Americans value their lives too much to risk them in this war that they don’t even understand.
[It should be noted that Filip fought in Donbass from May 2014 until early 2015. In 2015, according to our sources in DPR and LPR military circles, the professional level of Ukrainian soldiers has since seriously increased. Our sources have also reported that they quite regularly encounter in battle foreign mercenaries, most often Poles. Their professional training level is assessed as very high]
SM: What can you say about Russia’s participation in affording humanitarian aid to Donbass?
F: If not for Russia, the losses among the civilian population of Donbass would be numbered not in the tens, but in the hundreds of thousands of lives, and maybe even millions. Russia opened its borders for refugees from Donbass and Ukraine, which allowed the number of victims to be reduced. A large amount of humanitarian aid has been brought in from Russia, first and foremost food and medicine. I know that even before the first “white Kamaz’s” [the cars of the Ministry for Emergency Situations which bring humanitarian loads], humanitarian cargo was gathered and sent by volunteers in Russia, by social organizations (for example, combat veterans, charity organizations, etc.), Cossacks, and political parties. I know people who put in so much work and literally saved numerous lives.
Russia’s aid was especially salvational in 2014 when the DPR and LPR had just gotten on their feet. Unfortunately, not everyone could be helped. People don’t like to talk about this, but many people, probably thousands, in Donbass died from hunger and disease. This is the cost of Ukrainian policy – real genocide against the people of Donbass.
SM: Since we are talking about Ukrainian politics then, in your opinion, what would happen to the population of Donbass if Ukraine reasserts control?
F: I think that this scenario is a fantasy. I am sure that Ukraine will never take the republics of Donbass. The republics have well prepared for meeting the aggressor and they have something to meet them with. And Russia is too serious of a power to allow Ukraine to accomplish the genocide of the people of Donbass. The Minsk Agreements consist of ensuring the defense of the population of the DPR and LPR from Ukrainian fascists’ revenge. Ukraine blatantly violates them, but if it tries to start a new war against Donbass, then it is Ukraine that will be the one that suffers first.
SM: What plans is Ukraine hatching against Donbass? What will Ukraine do if the dreams of the Ukrainian hawks are realized and Ukraine seizes Donbass?
F: Ukraine has already shown what plans it has for Donbass. They are about the same that Croatia did with the Republic of Serbian Krajina. [The Republic of Serbian Krajina comprised the Serbian enclave on the territory of self-proclaimed Croatia and was destroyed by Croatian troops with the tacit support of Western countries. Many Serbs were killed and many were expelled from the lands that they had inhabited for centuries].
Ukraine sees the entire population of Donbass as open or covert separatists. This means that part of the population will be killed and the other part expelled from their lands. I can say that the overwhelming majority of the population of Donbass consider themselves Russians and do not link their fate to Ukraine. A very sad fate would awaits them if the republics are taken over by the Ukrainians. Those who survive and aren’t expelled from their homes will be forcibly Ukrainianized. Europe will close its eyes and pretend that it doesn’t see violations of human rights against an entire people.
SM: Last question: what are your plans? Do you count on going back to Donbass and in what capacity?
F: I plan on returning to Donbass to finish the job. The fascist vermin must be destroyed. And we will destroy them. Ukraine has been given a breather by Minsk but has not used this opportunity to save itself. Now Ukraine has licked its wounds and is preparing a new war against Donbass. But this will be Ukraine’s last war.