by Igor Druze (Igor Strelkov’s Advisor)
translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
The Militia was forced to leave Slavyansk. Of course, we were prepared to stand firm to the end, and were ready to obey any order to that effect from the Commander-in-Chief. All of us had prepared wills and said our farewells to our kin. But we are military people, and we also were prepared to follow a different order. All the more so, because we trust absolutely both Igor Strelkov’s decency and his military experience.
After all, this man is a veteran of four wars; as a volunteer, to boot. What would have happened if the Russian army had decided to hold Moscow to the end in 1812, or Kiev in 1941? There would not have been the taking of Paris or, respectively, Berlin; instead, the army—“Russia’s only ally”—would have perished in vain. I am absolutely certain of our victory, and that we will also liberate Kiev. The only remaining question is: at what price in blood and how quickly?
Accordingly, it is very strange suddenly to read the wild speculations of some purported patriots that Igor Strelkov is now guilty of everything under the sun. Including—of the surrender of the city. It would be better if they remembered how [Igor Strelkov] and his fearless fighters for months heroically stopped the advance of an entire army, even though they numbered only in the hundreds, and, by the end, consisted of a couple of thousands [militiamen]. Armed almost exclusively with small arms, they held back an offensive by fifteen thousand professional servicemen.
And, meanwhile, Igor Strelkov asked for help, spoke of the need for the introduction of peacekeeping troops, or, at least, for massive supplies of heavy weaponry from Russia. But no one listened to him. Nay, in the last few days, several commanders even betrayed [the Militia], thereby stripping Slavyansk of flanking defences on the side of its surburb, Nikolayevka.
Without any hope of help from Russia, further defence of the city by the numerically small forces of the militiamen against a regular army would have meant a futile death for practically the only battle-worthy, experienced units of the Donbass People’s Militia.
As well as the complete destruction of the city with its civilians. Indeed, the Ukie tactics are a form of artillery genocide. They are very concerned about losing their manpower, and that is why they simply pull up howitzers and Grad systems to our residential areas, and then pummel them, methodically devastating one district after another. Take this, for example: the Ukies almost entirely demolished Russkaya Street in Slavyansk. It looks as if the battery commander looked at his navigator, at the city map, saw the hated name, and specifically decided to level Russkaya Street.
However, there was plenty of destruction to go around for other streets as well. The scenes that I observed are indescribable in their horror: a confused 3-year old child going mad right in front of your eyes, screaming in an unnatural voice; priests performing funeral services for an entire section of an apartment block, walking around a dozen coffins set up beside the devastated homes of the deceased. It was in order to stop this monstrous Ukie “peacemaking” that the Militia Commander-in-Chief, Strelkov, decided to withdraw our forces.
And yet, there are already speculations that the Militia units left via some special “corridor” organized for them by Poroshenko. This is complete delirium. You need to understand that the blockade of Slavyansk had not yet been fully completed, and we could still leave via country roads. It is another matter that these roads were also open to artillery fire, most likely from Karachun.
That is why Igor Ivanovich gave the order for a diversion to be performed—by attacking the positions of the Ukie army with our numerically small armoured vehicle group. Our Nona and the tanks began striking at them, while, at the same time, the Militia drove toward Kramatorsk in “Ural” and “Kamaz” trucks, in microvans and cars. Some of our tankists died a heroic death; the list of their names is being confirmed, and they will be posthumously awarded Novorossiyan Orders of St. George.
Of course, we could not avoid the confusion inevitable in such a fairly large-scale operation. Having forgotten the order to maintain a blackout, some of the drivers drove with headlights turned on; they forgot to tape their headlamps. The enemy launched its drones and flare rockets. They have a huge number of drones, which I found out first-hand in a previous night time raid. As a result, the enemy was finally able to detect us, and the tail-end of our column came under Grad fire.
Personally, I was lucky—my men and I were at the head of the column and were unharmed. Although our vehicle was initially in the tail-end, later on (due to a local guide’s mistake), we were forced to turn everyone around, and our vehicle ended up at the head of the column.
Unfortunately, in the course of the artillery strike, the families of militiamen that were being evacuated to escape the punitive forces of the enemy came in harm’s way. A woman and a little girl were wounded; transport vehicles were damaged. The exact numbers of our losses during the evacuation from Slavyansk are being verified.
At the same time, it is even more offensive to hear criticism coming from many directions because any “conspiracy” with the Ukie government that was attempting to destroy us during the withdrawal is simply unimaginable. Similarly improbable are the rumours about our “enormous losses” during the redeployment of the forces. Why do you repeat Ukie lies?
In fact, overall, the operation was a resounding success for Strelkov, and, despite the difficulties (navoidable in such situations), he was able to evacuate almost the entire personnel of the Militia (over ninety percent of it), and practically all the weaponry. This is a great boon to the defence of Donetsk, and this is now our highest priority.
As for the office-plankton patriots that criticize Strelkov from afar, I can only say one thing to you: come here and demonstrate your talents on the field of battle, if you believe yourself smarter and braver than he is. We always need volunteers.
Forgive us for not dying in Slavyansk. We may yet have a chance to die in Donetsk if Russia will not help us.
Advisor to the DPR Minister of Defence
in Questions of Information and Politics