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The most famous of the pro-Russian rebel leaders in East Ukraine is Igor Strelkov, who has been covered extensively in this blog. Yet there exists, among rebel leadership, a character perhaps even more suspicious. In 1989, he fought as a volunteer in Transnistria. As one can see in the image above, he is one of the many caricature ‘Cossacks’ that fill up the margins of Russia’s political landscape, elected leader of the Don Cossack Host in 1994.
Before the war, Nikolai Kozitsyn has been personally a friend of Chechen rebel leader Dudaev, even signing a friendship treaty with the President of Ichkeria on behalf of the Don Cossack Host. Later on he has carried out negotiations with Slobodan Milosevic on behalf of the Don Cossack Host. He has received a service award from the Russian FSB.
On May 3rd, 2014, Kozitsyn, with a force of Cossacks on two trucks entered Ukraine from Russia and captured the town of Antrazit. One would imagine this is going to be the story of a typical Russian militant in Ukraine. It is not.
Early in May, at least one pro-Russian volunteer crossing over from Russia was captured and extensively tortured by Kositsyn’s men (as was at least one pro-Ukrainian activist).
On May 22, forces of the Lugansk Republic attempted to requisition ballistic vests from Antrazit police, and were by Kositsyn’s men forcibly disarmed and barred from entering Lugansk.
On June 6th, Igor Strelkov reported Cossack fighters from Krasny Liman abandoning their position and deserting to join Kozitsin’s forces. The Commander in Chief of the DPR army gave this description to the Cossacks:
But what devil has brought those hundreds of “Don and Kuban heroes” here at all? What are they defending in Antrazit? Whom are the fighting? The local chicken population and cisterns full of vodka? Nothing changes in the past 20-something years among our “redeemed Goat-cossackhood”. Dressed up scumbags and looters have ran the show, and continue to do so.
On June 8, the “Counterintelligence service of the Lugansk Republic” reported a ‘planned joint secret operation’ by the Ukrainian government and Kositsyn to have Kositsyn’s Cossacks take up positions in Lugansk, and then abandon them and let Ukrainian troops into the city. (The report is over here.) Witnesses state that on border posts controlled by the Cossacks there still stand Ukrainian officers reporting the identity of passing Russian volunteers to Kiev.
Later on, LPR authorities accused Kositsyn of refusing to participate in the fighting, and engaging in massed carjacking instead. Kositsyn threatened with penalties and a “violent solution to the problem.”
Yet later, audio evidence emerged of Cossack fighters that were reportedly Kositzyn’s men reporting they shot down the MH17. Kositsyn’s response is like that of a cartoon villain:
They shouldn’t be [expletive] flying,” the man says, after cursing the downed plane’s occupants as spies. “There’s a war going on.”
And now, Kositsyn’s being accused by Strelkov of abandoning Krasny Luch to the Ukrainians without a fight., leading to Donezk being surrounded.
In other words:
Kozitsyn and his men have committed crimes against Ukraine, the LPR, the DPR, possibly killed hundreds of Malaysian civilians, tortured people from both sides, engaged in carjacking. Literally every party in this conflict has been harmed by Kozitsyn in some way, and yet he remains safe and sound.
Who is this individual? Why is he still alive? I am suspecting – although of course I have no proof – that this man is an FSB agent. What shall my readers say?
I am fed up with the uplifting messages! “The militia is winning!!!” Ha! We see an exact repeat of the situation in Slaviansk on a larger scale – the opponent advances step by step, cuts our supply lines, and Twitter reports “All is well, beautiful Marquess!”
Yesterday the opponent cut off the last major highway connecting Donezk to Lugansk – and thus to Russia. The opponent’s base camps are now in Beloye and Veselaya Tarasovka. The Ukrainians are now hastily digging in several dozen tanks and BMPs, to prevent a breakthrough.
The comment sections will now start everywhere – “Igor Ivanovich is sad”, hinting that “not all is so bad”. All is very bad!! Tactical victories on secondary areas cannot break the strategic situation, and the results of strategic defeats! The capture of Beloe and Veselaya Tarasovka is, for us, a strategic defeat!
Now we are being cut off from the border -that is, from any supplies.
Last night, the opponent has passed through Tonenkoe to Donezk Airport, creating a network of base points, each of them defended by 5-7 tanks.
Right now three SU’s dropped heavy bombs on Saur-Mogila, results unknown. The Boeingis used by the Ukrainians to the fullest extent. Ukrainian aviation rules the skies entirely unpunished.
Near Grigorovka, the militia attacked one of the opponent’s Columns. Results are yet unknown.
It is unclear what is happening in Lugansk. The government of Ukraine is reporting that they’ve unblocked the airport, but volunteers and soldiers in the airport area have reported otherwise:
Half an hour ago a Grad was fired at the airport. It seems everyone is safe from now. There have been no attempts to evacuate the wounded and the dead – the roads to the airport are still under fire. Someone tell us that we’ve been deblocked and relieved. Go ahead.
The following photos are supposedly of a Ukrainian artillery position near Krasnodon:
(Source is Denis Mokrushin)
Photos выposted by A. Shary
Finally, the State Border Service of Ukraine reports:
On July 17th, near Marinivka and Dmitrovka, the terrorists have opened artillery fire on Russian Federation territory. In response, the RF servicemen opened fire on ATO positions near the border. Two artillery shells detonated in direct proximity near the Marinovka border post. Using the fire support of RF forces, the terrorists recommenced their offensive against ATO forces.
On unrelated topics, I have neglected in the past few days translating Strelkov SITREPs. As of yesterday, DPR forces have taken Marinivka, a village south of Donezk. As a result of this action, a large Ukrainian force (exact size unknown) has ended up surrounded in a ‘corridor’ between rebel and Russian territory. The corridor is narrow enough for rebel artillery to shoot through, exposing Ukrainian forces to being shot at will by the rebels.
The reports on the results of these attacks vary extremely widely. Differing branches of the Ukrainian government have reported casualties for yesterday’s fighting ranging from 2 men killed (as per the anti-terrorist operation’s press center) to 5 dead (as per the Ukrainian Security Council) to 200 dead (as per Correspondent.ua). Ukrainian soldiers have been calling in on the air of several local TV stations, in clearly distraught airs, stating that they were being shot at with large quantities of artillery. To add to the confusion, the Ukrainian government accused the Russian Federation of shooting down a SU-25 aircraft.
The Ukrainian government’s (very large, and a bit out-of-format) map of the situation can be seen here. Marinivka/Marinovka is clearly visible on the map (it’s marked with several fire-shaped icons to denote the fighting going on there). If the news reports by the Ukrainian press and the rebel press releases are correct, a large Ukrainian force is trapped now in the yellow space east of Marinivka. The Russian press has already begun referring to this as ‘the Donezk Cauldron’.
As of 17.07.07, Strelkov reports on this topic:
At 04:00 in the Metallist quarter (north Kuteynikov), the 2nd Slavyansk Battalion’s Sabotage-Reconnaissance group attacked the opponent’s basepoint near the fire station using an AGS and small arms. The Ukrainians took meaningful casualties. We have trophies.
Heavy fighting continues near MArinivka. The opponent is showering Marinivka, Stepanivka, and the surrounding heights with shells and rockets. Sadly they’re not assaulting yet – they utilize their overwhelming artillery superiority. We are taking serious casualties, but holding the position.
Near Kozhevnya – south of Dmitrievka, on the Russian border – our Sabotage-Reconnaissance group destroyed a tank and BTR in a Ukrainian column that had stopped, with .ATGM fire. The pontoon crossing over Mius was shattered by our artillery. The enemy forces attempting to leave the encirclement are demoralized.
Today we carried out an artillery strike on Ukrainian positions near the customs terminal and border patrol post “Marinivka”. The results have not yet been reported.
After yesterday’s defeats – 2 SU25s shot down – the enemy’s aviation had not appeared in the air.
As a Malaysian Airlines jet has been shot down today over Ukraine, several news sources have been quoting a supposed ‘Strelkov’ Vkontakte account boasting over the rebels supposedly shooting down this aircraft.
It is not impossible, of course, for the rebels to have shot down this aircraft. However, there is a problem. The Strelkov Vkontakte account is fake. Back in May 31st , Strelkov has written:
Equally, Strelkov’s official militia news website, http://icorpus.ru/, says: “This informational resource has no mirrors and dublicates anywhere, except the address icorpus.ru.”
This does not, of course, remove the probability that the rebels have shot down the aircraft. The rebels are known to be in possession of a Buk missile system, which is capable of carrying out this act. (I am amused darkly that when a Ukrainian aircraft was shot down at a high altitude, the Ukrainians denied that the rebels had this capability, but now they have recalled that the rebels have indeed captured the Buk.
This post will be updated as I learn more.
Nikolaevka is surrouned. There are no communications with its garrison. Continuous shelling of Semenovka, Nikolaevka, and the power plant goes on. The amount of shells expended is such that I have not even seen in Chechnya.
At night Slaviansk has been shelled with howitzers several times. The population is in panic. Everyone is cursing Kiev, Poroshenko and… Russia, that gave hope and left us to the mercy of Ukrainian punitive troops.
I ask the readers not to “grasp for straws”, not to be happy when some plane or tank are shot down – the Ukrainians have so many that we can shoot down 10 a day and there won’t be much less of them. They are crushing us under a constant flow of armor and shells. Infantry is almost not used except to clear the ruins. This is pure genocide. If Russia does not intervene soon, Novorussia will perish extremely soon.
Slaviansk will perish a lot sooner than the others.
Oh and by the way, our resupply routes are completely cut off. So you can send the vests, shoes, night vision devices et cetera wherever you want.
The shelling of the city continues.
During July 2nd, heavy fighting continued around Nikolaevka and Semenovka. The teams of Commanders Motorola and Machete held on to Nikolaevka and continued fighting on its outskirts.
On July 3, one militiaman has been killed and one wounded.
At the same time, commanders Berkut, Filin, and Miner have deserted their positions and moved to Yenakievo (the names of the traitors will be published later on.).
The DPR militia headquarters orders all of the fighters in these commanders’ units to immediately leave their command and arrive at Kramatorsk with all arms. The traitors are to be arrested and delivered to Kramatorsk.
The militia headquarters confirms Nikolaevka’s garrison suffices and the city will not be ceded.
During the battle near Semenovka on July 2nd, an enemy tank has been damaged. As a result of artillery strikes the militia lost 5 KIAs and 6 KIAs. Artillery barrages and combats continues.
On the night 2-3rd July the bridge on the Kharkov-Rostov road, on the bridge of Kazenny Toretz river, has been blown up. On July 2nd and 3rd Slaviansk and Kramatorsk has been shelled en masse from all sorts of tube and rocket artillery. In both cities there are many civilian casualties, and great devastation.
Ukrainian artillery has deliberately destroyed the water delivery piping for Slaviansk and Kramatorsk. In the morning of July 3rd the Nikolaevskaya power plant has been shelled. There is both damage and casualties. Combat continues.
They will not stop in Slaviansk. On the contrary, when they take it – they will commence advancing with redoubled strength. They have enough shells for months of fighting, their morale is strong (they see their colossal advantage and see our weakness). They really plan to finish the campaign by July 12th. Totally. That is, move to the border and clear out the main cities. Today is only the 3rd. It’s impossible for us to hold out until the 12th. Let’s recall the men fighting here are MILITIA. For them the fall of Slaviansk will be a heavy moral blow.
The Ukrainians continue shelling Nikolaevskaya plant. The factory is on fire. In Nikolaevka Smerch fire has leveled some of the five-story homes down to their foundation – they just folded. The city is surrounded with AFVs. Any movement downhill (the town is in a shallow by the river) and they respond with lethal artillery fire.
Strelkov’s newest SITREP is a video address, informing us that the Ukrainians continue their advance towards Kramatorsk and Slaviansk. Ukrainian shelling has now, according to Strelkov, damaged the water leads for Kramatorsk and Slaviansk, and both cities now have no running water.
Strelkov’s subordinate, Mozgovoi, has filed his own SITREP, for the Lisichansk and Seversk areas:
At 06:00, the Ukrainian army carried out an air strike on Lisichansk and Seversk. In Lisichansk a glass factory has been struck, there are WIAs. In Seversk the air strike was almost immediately followed up by Grad fire.
During the fighting, the militia has damaged 2 planes, the opponent’s personnel have suffered 70-100 casualties, the militia lost 10 WIAs, The militia is currently reinforcing its positions. The Ukrainians are beginning to deploy tanks (previously they deployed BTRs).
There doesn’t seem to be any backing to the story of 2 more Ukrainian planes being shot down. The Ukrainians are equally amusing in their truthfulness, with one Ukrainian official stating that Ukrainian artillery have not fired at Slaviansk, while another one posting Youtube videos of Ukrainian batteries firing. There’s not going to be an honest casualty account on either side until after the fighting is over, and quite likely not even then.
During the night of June 30th-July 1st the opponent shelled Slaviansk, Semenovka, Nikolaevka, Kramatorsk using howitzers, mortars, and Grad MLRS. In all the settlements there are numerous wounded and various damage done.
At morning during the artillery strikes on Kramatorsk a bus was wrecked, 4 men died instantly, 2 more died in the hospital, 4 more wounded, the city was also attacked by a SU-25.
During July 1st the opponent continued shelling all aforementioned settlements, two militiamen injured. A retaliation strike on a column approaching the Kombikormovy area, destroyed and damaged 3 trucks carrying shells, 2 refueling trucks.
Before noon, the opponent attempted to attack the positions of Mozgovoi’s Lisichansk Battalion around Seversk. The attack was repelled with heavy casualties, two BTRs hit and burned. In retaliation the opponent continued to barrage Seversk with heavy weaponry.
Meanwhile the Ukrainian military reports (via UNN):
“The forces of the Anti-Terrorist Operation have further lost military equipment. The terrorists managed to destroy a Ukrainian T-64 tank and Ural truck, as well as two D-30 howitzers.
ATO forces have carried out massed strikes in return. A terrorist camp has been utterly destroyed, personnel casualties, based on operative informational, are in the hundreds. Certain combat vehicles have also been destroyed and damaged. We can provide more concrete information after reconnaissance data has been gathered.”
Yesterday, anonymous sources in the ATO headquarters have also reported that an air strike near Kramatorsk had destroyed up to a thousand insurgents/militiamen.
Further, today the ATO speaker reports that a (via Correspondent.net.ua) SU-24 has been damaged by MANPAD fire in Donezk Oblast. “The aircraft managed to turn off its engines to take out the fire, and even destroy the launcher that shot at it. Then, using one engine, it flew 300 more kilometers and landed at its destination. However during the landing the engine caught fire again and was put out by firefighters. The crew is safe, the airplane requires repairs.”
A SU-25 was also reported damaged yesterday. (Correspondent.net.ua)
The Ukrainians have become active. Vostochny and Semenovka are being shelled with mortars and howitzers.
At Kombikormovy basepoint they have positioned three Akatsias… really close to the city. This means they will use them in semi-direct fire.
From Rovenki, on the Russian border, we have received a dispatch that Ukrainians are blocking the last gaps in the border with Russia. 260 vehicles – a whole regiment… this is the sort of armistice we have…
The Ukrainians have used chemical weapons on our positions. Two soldiers in a very serious state (phosphorous fumes inhalation) have been evacuated to Donezk.
As of now (23:30) Slavkurort is being shelled by artillery, including 240mm Howitzers. [Translator’s note: Strelkov has admitted in forum posts he is not quite certain he can accurately identify the artillery type by the sound of its firing.] Several strong fires.
Yesterday’s shooting was mostly from nervousness, caused by inexperienced militiamen… first someone noticed a UAV and shot at it, and then it was off… we barely stopped it.
The Ukrainians have spent the night shelling our positions and the city itself with howitzers and mortars. In Tzelinny village a mortar impact on a house killed a woman, there are wounded, lots of destruction – the fire is mostly meant for area effect, they’ve not even tried to hit the roadblock.
“Non-lethal” chemical weapons use is confirmed – more and more Semenovka fighters are reporting to doctors complaining of eye pain, throat scratchiness, etc. This is something chlorine-based. The explosions are aerial, often creating a smoke cloud. They only shoot them when the wind is headed our way. Finally people are bothering to carry and use the long-issued gas masks.
At morning we hit back at Karachun, aiming at the gun batteries we detected, communications posts and freshly-unloaded ammunition stockpiles. There were several detonations and fires. Their howitzers (6 Akatsias are deployed) have shot back briefly, and then fell quiet. Only the mortars shot back. However, as soon as we ceased fire, the howtizers started shooting at the city again. At this moment we know of one civilian KIA and several WIAs.
Now it is “quiet”. The Howitzers are firing a shell in 15-20 minutes, no more. More ammunition is unloaded at Karachun and Kombikormovy.
Comments: It is unclear whether the reports of chemical weapons use are true. There does not seem to be any independent verification of these claims, and I am not sure what the purpose of using non-lethal chemical weapons would be, unless it is merely to annoy the rebels and force them to wear gas masks (which does reduce combat efficiency a bit). It seems to me that non-lethal chemical weapons would only make sense if you planned to immediately afterwards attack with your own forces.
….I really never expected to use the ‘Chemical’ and ‘Modern’ tags on this blog at once.
Strelkov has made several brief forum posts since the 29th, one of them stating:
At Ulyanovka our Konstantinovka Company once again prevented the Ukrainians from deploying a roadblock. Our IS-3 tank had its first performance (that very tank! From the pedestal!) The Ukrainians have at least 3 KIAs and as many WIAs. No wounded on our side.