Translated by Lada Pyatnitskaya
What is Donbass being shelled with, who is fighting in the army of the DPR, what is the real mission of the OSCE, what is happening in the industrial zone – all this was discussed by “Komsomolskaya Pravda” with the military correspondent of the armed forces of the DPR Mikhail Andronik.
By Olga Zhukova.
Despite the official ban on the supply of NATO lethal weapons to Ukraine, the industrial zone around Donbass speaks the opposite. The weapon and ammunition of Bulgarian, Austrian, American production is being used in the shelling of Donetsk. The Internet is full of photos of soldiers from “territorial battalions” and UAF with brand new weapons. They are bragging. All this is in open access, but international organizations prefer to ignore this.
“Komsomolskaya Pravda” spoke to a person who regularly visits the industrial zones around the DPR and shows terrible findings of foreign production on his page.
“This is an Austrian production 40mm projectile for the grenade launcher produced in Austria by a firm RHEINMETALL. A lot of them can be found in the area of Zaitsevo and Avdeevka industrial area. This is a rather dangerous weapon, there is the possibility of blasting it in the air, i.e., the trenches cannot protect you. The 60mm mortars are also actively used. The shell is small but it gives a lot of small pieces. It’s almost impossible to prove that exactly these shells were fired. We were lucky for we have found an unexploded shell, it has a very typical shaft. The attacks with them were conducted long before Ukraine started to adopt them.”
Was it just adopted? Can they already shell us with them?
“Supposedly they adopted them, but if you look at what they are shooting with, as they claim, of their production, it is very different. And in recent years grenades for RPG-7 launchers are being very actively used. They were produced in the Soviet Union, as well as their counterparts that are being produced in other countries, including America. Grenades themselves are labeled, which is easy to identify what plant they were produced at. These grenades sometimes don’t explode, sometimes they explode, and there remains some part that is marked. Markings belong to ‘Arsenal’ and ‘VMZ’ plants, Bulgaria.”
Maybe it’s old Soviet era stock?
“It was like this earlier, we got grenades produced in 1988-89. Now, what we have found lately are fragmentation grenades that are produced only by Bulgarian plants. There are their analogues in Russia, but they look completely different. Well, the marking also says that they were produced at ‘VMZ’. It’s an anti-personnel fragmentation grenade OG-7V. Thus, we can talk about massive supplies.”
What is the percentage of prohibited imported to non-prohibited weapons?
“Now the whole industrial area is backfilled with imported grenades and they can be found more and more often. If earlier there were grenades only for RPG-7, now the guys at the industrial zone say Ukraine has started to use disposable grenade launchers RPG-22. But still the rear part of them can be found on which the marking – the number ’11’ in a double circle – is the marking of the Bulgarian plants.
In fact, all the ammunition for grenade launchers that is used by the UAF is produced in Bulgaria. And Bulgaria is a NATO country. And that’s a violation of the law because officially NATO is not supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. Assistance to Ukraine was limited by reconnaissance, ammunition, means of protection, but in any case not a lethal weapon. Also Ukraine has been supplied with high-caliber rifles of 12.7 mm caliber produced in the west. It’s a very serious weapon. The Internet is full of photos and videos where UAF soldiers are boasting that they are having such weapons.”
It turns out that the overwhelming majority of what the Ukrainians are being supplied with comes from NATO countries, right?
“In fairness it should be noted that this is not that number of weapons that Ukraine would like to get. Still America does not see Ukraine as its partner who can be supplied with something serious. It’s being kept on a starvation diet, so to speak. Even the Kurds have those ‘Javelins’. The Kurds don’t have their own State, however, they are using these anti-tank missile complexes ‘Javelins’. Now there are some talks about supplies, but they have been continued for three years already.”
Have you found anything else?
“Recently documents on the supply of analogues of grenade launchers RPG-7 but of American production appeared on the Internet. I thought it was a fake but in a couple of days on the Internet appeared photos appeared of ‘Azov’ fighters with the American grenade PSLR-1. So ‘Azov’ received 200 units of grenade launchers now. This is an analogue of the RPG-7, but it is more refined, lighter, and its range is up to 2000 meters (the RPG-7 – 650-700 metres) and it is planned to develop a guided munition for it.”
And have you seen any exclusive weapons?
“Recently I saw a fairly well-known one, also among criminal circles, a pistol-machine gun AGRAM 2000 on one of our fighters. According to the owner of the weapon it was a trophy. It was taken in the industrial zone of Avdeevka last autumn during the elimination of a Croatian mercenary with the callsign ‘Professor’.”
Weekdays of the industrial zone
You say that in recent years, a lot of foreign weapons have appeared there?
“The industrial zone is littered with them. Artillery is not used so much now, but it is not needed by and large. In the industrial zone the distance between the opposing sides is about from 50 to 150 metres. There is no need for artillery. It is dangerous to use it, because you can hit fighters from your side. Yesterday we went there and we were told that 120mm mortars worked on them, also small, heavy and anti-tank grenade launchers, underbarrel and automatic grenade launchers, heavy machine guns are being used.”
Who starts first?
“Ukraine starts first in one hundred cases out of a hundred. It is possible to come and see this, it’s not a secret. We always carry foreign journalists there and they don’t even care that something from our side will fly and they will see it. Now because of the heat their attacks start later, after it’s getting dark they start to batter. RPG grenades, infantry – everything is in motion. And when ours got quite annoyed, and ours don’t even have mortars now, they answer with smaller weapons. The distance there is small, so everything is being extinguished normally . When you ‘give’ them it well enough – they shut up.”
The distance is short and you say you can hear them. What exactly can you hear?
“If you stay in the industrial zone for a night, you will hear how they are shouting till the morning. I spent two nights in the industrial zone – and from the other side all night long you could hear the sounds of some booze. They are constantly yelling, don’t allow you to sleep, it’s like an awkward neighbour. As for looting, the situation is as following – the entire territory of the Donetsk region that is under the control of the UAF has been robbed away. We helped to compose statements to the European court on human rights from the residents of Zaitsevo . Zaitsevo is divided – a small part is under the control of the UAF. And people from there come and tell you that they take out everything: water heaters, couches, dishes, clothing – nothing is sacred. They found a pack of cigarettes ‘Dontabak’ at one man’s place. Well, should he go to Artemovsk to buy cigarettes? They took these cigarettes away, accused him of separatism, took out half of the house. For one pack of ‘Dontabak’!”
Is there hope that the European court on human rights will react to these statements?
“According to month-old information, out of a thousand and a half statements, seven hundred of them were accepted for consideration.”
Who is fighting for Donbass
Mikhail, incidentally, is also a very interesting personality. He came to us from Saint Petersburg three years ago to sort out first and foremost for him self what was really going on here.
“Media is good, but I wanted to understand what was really going on.”
First he went to Lugansk, where he got into the fight, then he returned home. But he couldn’t stay at home longer, so he came to Donetsk. Before the war he was not connected either with the army or with journalism…
“Yes, very many volunteers came to you. In Rostov, I remember, there was a room in none of hostels. People of different incomes, with different education, from different social groups went to help. And here’s what I realized, talking with the guys. There is a huge number of volunteers who are ready to come to help. They have a normal life – a home, a family, the work. But if there is a conflict – they just pick up and go there. We were traveling with people who have already passed five wars. They are not military, in the best case they had the army military service. But if there is something – they go to help. The reasons are different. But volunteerism is very strong. And its roots are deep. And they are not only from Russia. There are a lot of foreign volunteers here!”
Are there a lot of foreigners?
“Yes, they are also volunteers. Many of them had a quite well-fed life, their own business. But some do not agree with the policy of the European Union, some are indeed a fanatic of war. We have one Hungarian, he disagrees with the fact that the Russians are very difficult to assimilate, for example, in France. Despite the fact that they are educated people with a profession – doctors, teachers. If the Arabs come, all is well. Benefits, social programs, everything is there. However, they do not work, they’re useless for the State. But taxpayers pay for their life in France. The Russians are like dogs. ‘Well then, I’m also a dog’, said a Hungarian, and he’s been sitting for the second year in the industrial zone.”
Are there any volunteers from the republics of the former USSR?
“There are, of course. Kazakhstan, Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, I saw so many of them. And it happens that in the same trench you can find, for example, an Armenian and an Azerbaijani, who are implacable enemies in ordinary life. But while the war is going on – they are together. You could find anyone here in 2014! The French – they came in whole units. The Germans, the Spaniards. They have left by now. Now most of the local population is serving in the army. Ninety percent are locals.”
“OSCE simply indicates the direction”
Does OSCE record these violations?
“I don’t like to communicate with them. They don’t respond for anything, they shirk all answers. The idea is that all of their observations are something that you will later invoke the Hague War Crimes Tribunal as an objective source. But the fact is that they do not record objectively. They have allegedly no authority to investigate where the shot came from. They just indicate the direction. But one direction is not enough. Ballistics is an exact science. There by the inlet for any type of shell we can say – where the fire came from. But look at their report – ‘the shelling was from the North’, ‘the shelling was from the North-West’. It’s not serious.”
Does anyone collect evidence, besides them?
“Of course. In fact, after each attack we start a criminal investigation. We know exactly who gave the order and the name of the person who put a shell in the gun. All those who are responsible for the attacks are known, everything is recorded, investigations are being conducted. Our investigation is carried out, and cases are referred to the investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. They are just being taken to the Prosecutor’s office (Mikhail pulls out a few fragments from his pocket)…
The settlement of Zaporozhets in the South of the Republic in the Telmanovsky district has been shelled for the first time in the war. It is far enough away from the frontline and there is no one in the military. Local residents are in shock, the whole village was covered, twelve 152-millimeter shells fell, two houses were destroyed. I.e., it is a miracle that no one was hurt. Many people were saved because it came at first on the outskirts of the village. There were two goats tied up, they miraculously survived, and continued to graze. This attack is also a criminal case. We know who was shooting, where, from whose positions. The shelling was carried out from the positions of the 59th separate motorized infantry brigade. So I think when this is all over everyone will receive what they deserve.”
Will these documents be taken into consideration? They were only recognized by Russia so far.
“All the violations are recorded by representatives of the Russian Federation in conjunction with the DPR, its ‘Joint Center for monitoring the ceasefire’, where there are representatives of both Russia and Ukraine. They come to the attacks and they conduct an examination as well. All this is recorded and accepted for consideration. I’m sure everyone who is guilty will be punished.”
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