The Saker: Please introduce yourself in a few words, tell us which Brigade you served in, what rank you achieved there and what your military speciality was?
Ramzes: My GRU Spetsnaz call sign was Ramzes. I was born in Russia. I began service in 1994 and finished service in 1999. I was an airborne cadet for four years and served as an officer with the rank of lieutenant for one year after that. I served in the 16th Brigade of the GRU Spetsnaz based out of Chuchkovo. I was the commander of 25 GRU Spetsnaz soldiers. As the commander of this group it was mandatory that I was proficient and educated as a sniper, explosives & ordnace specialist, radio communication as well as use of the English language. To be a Spetsnaz commander you must be trained in all aspects of warfare employed by your entire unit.
In Spetsnaz GRU there is no platoon structure per se as in regular army units, we operate as a group and although command line is respected, all members of the group are active in intelligence and planning as well as mission execution. In Spetsnaz everybody is aware of the full situation and they all have the responsibility and opportunity to think about what the mission is and to weigh in at any time and if needed to think and operate on their own if required. Every member of the group must be able to act independently without needing immediate orders, yet knowing what the full scope of the mission is. They can all address the situation and assess and contribute their opinion on operations. As a commander I listen to everybody and make the final decision. This makes Spetsnaz more effective.
The Saker: There are many elite units in the Russian military, including the SOBR and ODON units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Alpha and Vympel Spetsnaz of the FSB, the 4 divisions and 8 brigades of the VDV, the Navy’s Spetsnaz units, the “Zaslon” unit of the SVR, etc. How would you compare these forces to the 7 Spetsnaz GRU brigades? What makes the Spetsnaz GRU unique and different?
Ramzes: In the beginning Spetsnaz was only GRU. They are the original and some say true Special Forces. During the 1990’s the reputation of the Spetznas was renowned throughout Russia and deeply respected. At this time all the forces created there own Spetsnaz units to piggyback on the reputation and elite status of the original GRU Spetsnaz. The very identity of Spetsnaz became a catch word for the elite unit within all of the various military and security organisations.
Now if you say that you are Spetsnaz there is more responsibility to live up to a certain reputation as the situation in Russia is exceptionally more advanced and capable compared to the 90’s.
Originally the main operational concept of the Special Forces was to execute our missions on the territory of the enemy. Now there are domestic Spetsnaz and all sorts of various Spetsnaz delegations that were not trained for foreign incursions like the original GRU Spetsnaz.
When we were trained all GRU Spetsnaz were educated in one or more several key languages. Farsi, Mandarin, English, Arabic, French. Now they learn a greater variety of languages. For example during the Afghan War our Spetsnaz were fluent in various local dialects and after this experience this practice was expanded.
The Saker: It is often reported that there are Spetsnaz GRU units formed exclusively of officers and NCOs which are used in more complex and demanding operations. Is that so and, if yes, are these units part of the Spetsnaz Brigades or are they directly depending on the 5th (or 8th?) GRU Directorate in Moscow?
Ramzes: I can say only this. There are GRU Spetsnaz groups that consist of only officers. Every group will be working under the directorate of the GRU. Of course the most difficult and delicate missions are for groups composed of officers only officers and NCO’s.
The Saker: As far as I know, the original primary mission of the Spetsnaz GRU forces was the detection of NATO missile launchers and associated command posts, combined with deep reconnaissance and diversionary attacks. During the Eltsin years Spetnaz GRU forces were used in all sorts of manners which have very little to do with their original mission: they were used as infantry, as assault units, as anti-terrorist units, as protection units for generals, etc. Is that still the case today and how to you see the future of the Spetsnaz GRU and what kind of missions would you want them assigned to?
Ramzes: Detecting missile launch sites was only one (of many) mission designations of GRU Spetsnaz units. I think active serving Spetsnaz of GRU were never used for any security detail for Generals. They had other missions, again always on foreign soil.
Security is provided by other teams not GRU. Even during Yeltsin years GRU Spetsnaz were only assigned to foreign territory. Protection of generals, assault troops, anti-terrorist Spetsnaz of MVD (police) not GRU. Not exclusively however, there are several incidents when GRU Spetsnaz did assist when large scale assaults on domestic territory were active, like various scenarios in chechnia, but again very rare.
Of course retired GRU officers can enter into active duty with MVD or other units if they choose after they finish their service w/ the GRU.
As for what I would like to see them assigned to – that depends on the situation, but of course the main idea is to protect Russia.
The Saker: The 16th Spetsnaz Brigade saw combat in Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, Chechnia, the North Caucasus and Abkhazia and soliders from this Brigade also served in Kosovo. I also have very strong suspicions that the Brigade was sent into Moscow in 1993 in the days right after the end of the combats around the White House and the Ostankino Tower. Did these conflicts trigger changes inside the organization or training of the Brigade? Which of those wars were the most difficult ones for the Brigade?
Ramzes: Perhaps this question is not the right one to ask or it is phrased in a way that can not clearly be answered. For example regarding the wars, it depends on the specific mission, there could be one mission in Afghanistan that was a complete success and one in Chechnia that was a terrible failure but we can not assess based on region or war, but based on each individual mission. Considering this we can say that Afghanistan provided the most rich experience simply due to the duration and variety of the missions. While Chechnia had some intense and complex missions GRU Spetsnaz were not deployed in this conflict as much as the general public assumes, as again this was on domestic territory.
None of these conflicts resulted in any diametric changes within the GRU Spetsnaz, yet the training and tactics are constantly evolving. If you are an officer or soldier for Spetsnaz your mission is to serve the people of Russia exclusively and at all times. I can personally say that the 16th were very clever soldiers who understood their situation and that the commanders could never nor would ever order their units to take any aggressive action against citizens of the RF, nor act as crowd control against the people of Russia, especially as per the situation inside Moscow during 1993, no GRU Spetsnaz were involved in these incidents.
Of course the Spetsnaz GRU always modernizes and updates tactics and strategy from experience. When I was a cadet we learned things that the cadets today probably do not learn due to the rapidly evolving nature of missions, experiences, technology, tactics and geopolitics.
During WW2 we had one specific tactic and now we have various tactics and the differences are understandably very significant. For example better equipment, improved battlefield awareness, logistics… Of course the basic ideas and principles are the same but also much improved.
Today of course their is much more money to fund and supply our soldiers than in the 90’s and our technology is now highly advanced and is far greater today then when I served.
I am envious of what equipment they have to work with today. GRU Spetsnaz are in all likelihood far stronger and more capable today than they were when I was in service, however at the core we have the same ideals and work habits.
The Saker: How surprised were you when the Polite Men in green conducted an absolutely brilliant operation in Crimea which they managed to secure without a single person being shot even though the peninsula was full of elite Ukrainian units including many sent from the western Ukraine? Does this operation show that the modern Spetsnaz GRU forces are as good as the old Soviet ones or, possibly, that they have become even better than the used to be?
Ramzes: Was I surprised, well yes, but I understand that such success is possible, even 20 years ago it was possible. Taking the enemy whole without the loss of life is one of the greatest ways to achieve victory in any mission. This is a very significant example of mission success. This is a case when the art of martial tactics shines more brilliantly than the forces of war.
Of course GRU Spetsnaz is now better than 20 years ago. With better equipment, radio, satellite, weapons, GPS etc… It all provides huge advantages. The reduction in weight alone is a massive operational advantage as well as the reduced size of technology used and what it can achieve. We had a compass and map, today they have smart phones and gadgets that provide truly amazing intelligence and tactical capabilities to out groups.
The Saker: The Urkonazi junta is constantly claiming that Spetsnaz GRU units are operating in the Donbass. Purely in theory, would you say that that this is possible or do you completely exclude such a possiblity. Please explain the reasons for your reply. What do you make of this video:
Ramzes: As for there being Spetznas in Donbass – you can have it both ways. It is extremely unlikely, but however, well anything is possible.
Just as it is possible that GRU Spetsnaz can be in the USA, Canada, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia at this moment. They might even be in China, Venezuela or Iran etc…
But GRU will not be operating inside Russia.
American readers need not to worry, no GRU Spetsnaz will be popping up in front of the White House or on Wall Street anytime soon, wearing telnyashkas and sporting prison tattoos with big beards etc… These Hollywood stereotypes do not reflect a true active GRU Spetsnaz soldier, so don’t believe the scripts. You will never know we are there.
Reconnaissance is one of our main missions. Our tactics are to never engage in direct battle, we will only engage once we are shot upon. If we are discovered, several people might stay behind to fight while the rest of the group will disappear.
Maybe there are retired ex-military Spetsnaz personnel who are acting independently trying to help the people of Donbass, if the Ukranians catch retired personnel and discover the previous identities than they may make such claims, but it is NO active GRU unit would be involved in such manners. That is not our function. Also if someone is tortured they will say anything. Intelligence obtained under duress and bodily harm is never accurate. It is only used for public consumption. So if a personal is captured they can be forced to say anything, it means very little.
If I left to Donbass by the command of my heart to help the people and was captured, they would claim they caught a Spetsnaz officer, but I would be acting on my own. As a Spetsnaz officer we would never wear any distinguishing badges or marks, nor reveal our identities.
If you think about it – no GRU Spetsnaz unit of 12-25 men would stay and engage in a fire fight against 200 Azov or Right Sector soldiers. That would be stupid. Spetsnaz do not engage in stupidity. This whole video wreaks of disinformation and I do not think it holds much validity. It is for public consumption like Hollywood movies it does not reflect real warfare tactics.
The Saker: There are constant rumors about US and Polish special forces operating on the Urkonazi side. Again, in theory, do you think that this is possible? What would the foreign special forces offer which the Ukrainian special forces would not be capable of?
Ramzes: I think it is very possible. I think they are helping behind the line of contact, providing expert advisors who tell the private armies and the Ukrainian soldiers what to do, how to do it, when to do it and so on… They will be coaching and encouraging these people how to fight. Providing intelligence, equipment and strategy but most likely not engaged in the fighting. You may have individuals among the Right Sector or Azov Battalions across the line of contacts, but most likely no American or Polish units or groups operating as they would typically.
It is now very much like it was in Georgia during the 90’s and now again today. Americans and other nationals provide most of the training, provide the equipment and intelligence but do not engage in battle themselves.
As far as Maidan, nobody knows whether it was Polish snipers or Right Sector snipers there on the roofs. This is very difficult to assess and most likely has many complexities that provide cover for the actual shooters who pulled the trigger. What is clear is that is was a provocation and that there was a significant amount of preparation and situational awareness involved. So is the Ukrainian president the one ordering a provocation to unseat himself? This is how shallow the logic and propaganda is, not very difficult to debunk.
Imagine that if the Ukrainian president was reluctant to use his Berkut Riot police to quell the situation on the ground at the line of contact then it makes zero sense that he had the will or stomach to give orders to unleash snipers on an open crowd. Plus the shells and exit wounds clearly show the same weapons were used to hit and kill both the Ukrainian Berkut Riot police and the rioters themselves.
Perhaps it was a mistake for the Ukrainian President to not order the Berkut to properly control the situation, they had the means to do so. The USA understood that at this moment there was weakness in the command structure (it is entirely possible that they manufactured this weakness as well, political and private leverage is also a weapon and tactic used as well) at this critical moment and exploited that event to maximize chaos on the ground and degeneration of social order. Once the Fog of War is as thick as the smoke from the burning tires it becomes difficult to explain and events begin to unfold too fast to keep the public attuned to what matters. By the time the smoke clears it is too late, chaos has sewn its seeds.
This was an extremely difficult position to be put into. Maybe the Ukrainian president is just a regular human not a military man. I myself may not know what order I would give in I was in his shoes if I had to order my Berkut soldiers to kill civilians my own civilians even if they are wild Maidan protestors encouraged by inserted terrorists, they are still people.
Americans might see him as being a weak leader with not the stomach to shed blood to maintain power, but as a Russian I understand that these people have families and loved ones too. Ask yourself if you could order your Berkut soldiers to kill and subdue a massive mob like that. It is not an easy question to resolve. In hindsight we can say that giving this order would have saved thousands of lives and likely helped their economy greatly, but in the moment things are not clear and nobody can predict the future. This is an area where civilian leadership may lead to more bloodshed than military leadership.
The Saker: What is your take on the murder of Alexei Mozgovoi. Do you believe that it is possible for a Ukrainian or NATO diversionary unit to have acted so deep behind the front lines and, if yes, could they have succeeded without an accomplice inside the LRN giving them the information about the schedule and route taken by Mozgovoi?
Ramzes: I think that it is possible. In no way is this good for DNR and LNR headquarters. Mozgovoi was a clever and very strong commander. Many people did not like him within the LNR and DNR but they all knew they needed him as he prooved his battle expertise. His value was well understood and this along with his passionate views made him unpopular to some, but nobody within the LNR or DNR would dare execute this murder, it would be treason.
Mozgovoi was more of a problem for the Ukrainian and American interests as his battlefield awareness and command was responsible for many successes.
Many Ukrainian Spetsnaz were trained by Russian GRU back in the day, they were trained well and are familiar with our methods. Many people from the Ukraine can penetrate deep into DNR and LNR structures without being detected. It is an extremely complicated scenario due to our long common history. Now we have external agents acting on these people and anything is possible.
I know people personally who are actual brothers who are currently fighting on opposite sides of this war. They understand that this war is not needed by the people. They have no choice in the matter though, as they must act to save their families.
If you are a Ukrainian man and wish to stay at home and avoid this war you will likely be killed by Right Sector or Azov Battalion agents. Also if they choose to escape to Russia their homes and possessions will be taken. But however, if you go to fight against DNR & LNR then OK go ahead and fight. Many people in the Ukrainian Army see the only way to save their family and possessions is to join the Ukrainian Army because there is no choice. For this reason you see many people who fight when clearly their heart is not into it, they do not want to kill their brothers and cousins but are being forced to do so by fascist thugs who are running across the country acting with crazy brutality and with full impunity. You see this wherever certain geopolitical actors are involved. Rule by terror and chaos.
May people from LNR & DNR speak directly with Ukrainian military who understand that this is a political situation and actively coordinate fire positions so as to not kill one another. For example brothers who previously served in Afghanistan together will do what they can to avoid killing one another now that they find themselves on opposite sides of the battle. But this only applies to the Ukrainian Army and the DNR & LNR. The Pravy Sektor and Azov Battalions as well as private mercenaries are the main units causing all the damage, chaos, terror and violence while the others are trying to avoid the politics and ride out the violence.
As for Mozgovoi’s death. Of course their could be deep intelligence penetration inside the LNR, their could also be high tech reconnaissance from USA intercepting communications w/out a physical spy inside actively betraying Mozgovoi’s route.
The Saker: Recently there have been speculations in the Russian media about MH17 being shot down by a BUK missile after all. In that hypothesis the Ukrainians managed to drive a BUK missile launcher into the the territory of the DNR undetected and then fired at MH17. Do you believe that it is possible for a Ukrainian crew drive a MH17 missile launcher undetected into the DNR-controlled territory and fire it in order to blame the Novorussians for the shot?
Ramzes: I have a special attitude regarding this. I was in the sky on July 17th at the exact time MH17 was shot down. I saw a military military plane in the sky. There is only one military plane that can be in the sky at this time. Only a Ukrainian military jet could be in the airspace at that time. I was not the only person who saw this military plane. Many of us saw it. I saw it with my own eyes.
The state that media then reported that Ukrainians denied having a plane in the air at that time. So ask yourself why are they lying?
I checked an American run flight path tracking website and I saw my commercial flight, I saw MH17, I saw that at that exact time (20 minutes after MH17) my commercial plane’s flight path was logged on this website. The next day discussing this with fellow officers and friends we looked at the website again and in less than 24 hours my commercial flight was not on this web site . Why would they delete the flight record of a commercial flight? This is a daily scheduled flight from Greece to Russia. This flight appears on the July 16 and on July 18, and it was there on July 17 as per its regular schedule yet it was removed from the record on July 17th.
If a BUK was also involved it makes sense, as military redundancy is always a practice employed when striking a target. It makes sense to have it hit by military jets, then by a BUK then by a bomb inside the aircraft and so on… This all points to a high level of preparation for this attack. However I do not think this was executed by high level professional operatives, it was most likely done by someone who could order ground units and planes to attack (read Oligarch) but not someone slick enough to have a bomb on board or make this look like an accident (read CIA or Special Ops). It could be CIA if they wanted to make it look like an Oligarch to trigger anger and a response. Again anything is possible but we know 100% it was not local fighters from the DNR or LNR. Especially not with Russia in any way supporting such craziness.
The event was made to be the most important news, which implies it was a diversionary tactic for public consumption while on the ground troops were amassing and preparing for and initiating battles. Again, it was a cover for engagement. Clearly the LNR and DNR are suing for peace as is Moscow.
So this tragedy was a clear and important pivot to make the world to pay attention and while the world paid attention to MH17 other orders were being executed on the ground to create the pretext for a full war.
Thank you for providing the blog service for your readers world wide. Dear Saker readers please do help by making a donation as we understand in Russia that the information warfare in Western countries is relentless, this campaign is being conducted against us and that we deeply appreciate the time, energy and effort it takes to stand tall and speak truthfully. Together we can act as an effective Spetsnaz group. To know the whole situation and to individually do what needs to be done.
Mozgovoi was a man driven by his consciousness he was a man of principals and actions. Let his soul observe us all continuing to support what he dies for – the truth and lasting peace.
Thank you and God Bless.