Popov: Motorola is gone, but Donbass still stands strong

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October 17, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

On October 16th, shocking news came from Donetsk that Motorola, one of the famous veterans of the war in Donbass and the commander of the Sparta battalion, had been killed. Motorola was one of the most famous Donbass militia commanders not only in Donbass, but around the world. 

All the supporters of the Donbass republics are asking two questions: who killed Motorola and how will the DPR avenge his death? 

According to the jubilee in Ukrainian social networks and official reports, the militia commander’s death has been attributed to Ukrainian saboteurs. However, there are reliable publications (few, but there are) which deny the involvement of Ukrainian sabotage-reconnaissance groups in his murder. Let’s leave the answer to the first question to the investigation and not jump to conclusions. The second question is much more interesting.

Today in an interview for one Moscow newspaper, I expressed my opinion that DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko’s speech made immediately after Motorola’s death does not mean a declaration of war against Ukraine as many have thought. This is a case in which, as we say in Russian, “a mountain has given birth to mouse,” i.e., too much is being made out of too little. 

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From Zakharchenko’s speech, I would not conclude that the DPR is abandoning the Minsk Agreements. Ukraine has long since been violating them and yesterday it committed yet another terrorist act. But for a year and half, the Donbass republics have endured Ukrainian shelling and acts of terror (military, economic, etc.). It would be naive to accept that the murder of one, albeit widely known commander, will overflow Donetsk and Lugansk’s cup of patience. This cup will overflow when Donetsk and Lugansk need it too. 

Thus, if the Ukrainians counted on Motorola’s assassination to push Zakharchenko to take drastic steps, with the hope of then accusing the republics of disrupting the Minsk Agreements, then they miscalculated. Donbass knows that doing such would mean succumbing to Kiev’s provocations and accepting its rules of the game. The hypocritical West, which has preferred not to notice Ukraine’s numerous violations of Minsk, needs only one violation by Donbass to jump into action. But Donbass will not fall for such foolishness.

During today’s interview, a Moscow journalist said that Ukrainian terrorist attacks in the Donbass republics are a one-sided game. Kiev hits, while Donbass is silent. This is true to a certain extent. Donbass was originally left disadvantaged and, for both moral and political considerations, could not use all of the means that Kiev has in its arsenal. It has to be patient and wait who knows how long. 

The situation in Donbass is somewhat akin to the events of May-June 1941. The leadership of the USSR refused to succumb to Germany’s provocations and give Hitler a pretext for war. Now, no matter how painful Ukraine’s provocations are, Donbass will not respond to them in full. This tactic has huge minuses, such as casualties (including irrecoverable ones) among the population and social infrastructure of the republics. But Ukraine also loses: its Nazi militants and soldiers and officers are killed. All the more wounded are filling up Ukrainian hospitals, and Ukraine is gradually overheating with international contradictions.

This is a war of nerves. And in this war, Donbass is undoubtedly stronger. This is why it will be Ukraine that will restart the war once its limit of patience ends. And this is why not only the life, but the death of Motorola and other defenders of Donbass are not meaningless. 

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