ERRATA: In original post, had wrong picture of Zaluzhny, that was actually Ruslan Khomchak, the former Commander-in-Chief. Will now replace his pic with that of the more potato-headed Zaluzhny. Thanks to commenter “raghead the friendly terrorist”, for noticing!
Today concluding my translation/review of this piece by reporter Dmitry Steshin, as he interviews DPR Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky.
But first one quick BREAKING NEWS type note. Or, file this under “Cat Fighting”, if you wish. This is something to keep your eyes open for in the next day or so. I was reading yesterday, in the various military blogs that I follow, of a new spat between Valery Zaluzhny (Ukrainian Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces) versus Volodimir Zelensky (Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces). As soon as the Popasna Flower bloomed, Zaluzhny, professional soldier that he is, somebody who actually went to Military Academy and has read books, pointed out to his boss that tens of thousands of his best men are about to be surrounded in the Lisichansk/Severodonetsk Cauldron. Zaluzhny requested permission for his soldiers to perform a tactical withdrawal Westward before it’s too late. (According to Ukrainian law, soldiers are not allowed to withdraw from the front line without the explicit permission of El Supremo.)
Backstory: Zelensky and his camarilla, which includes Alexei (aka “Lusya”) Arestovich, a complex and highly intelligent yet also dilettantish and completely insane guy who considers himself to be a great military genius — have run this war into the ground. General Zaluzhny knows they are doomed but is too loyal to stage a coup; however he was able to extract at least one concession from the Clown In Chief, namely that he has the right to order a withdrawal when he deems it necessary, on his own judgement, without having to wake up the Clown, say, in the middle of the night, from one of his cocaine binges. Zaluzhny won that concession, BUT!!! Zelensky still has to give the permission in advance. And, here is the really interesting bit: Zel told Zaluzhny he may order the retreat on his own judgement, but only AFTER May 27! Which is tomorrow, Friday.
So, what big thing is supposed to happen between today and tomorrow? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. Some people say there will be a big plot twist, like maybe the entire Polish army rushing to the rescue some time this afternoon? Other evil minds claim that Zelensky is secretly working for Putin. Like, he would have phoned Putin on his secret burner and asked, “Is the cauldron ready yet?” And Putin would have replied, “Hey, Volodya, can you give me just one more day to get everything ready?”
Anyhow, back to our lede:
The Big Battalions Are Decisive
We continue translating the interview between Steshin and Khodakovsky.
Steshin: We have been talking about technology. But what about people? How have they been performing: Ordinary soldiers? Spetznaz?
Khodakovsky: You may be surprised to hear my conclusion: It’s the army which fights, all the same. Not the Spetznaz. Don’t get me wrong, the Spetznaz guy is a very valuable soldier, both according to his equipment, as well as his training. But the military result is given by the [regular] army, in the majority of cases. If you were to use Spetznaz in place of [regular] soldiers, then things would end rather quickly. Of course, when it comes to a duel rifle vs rifle, the better-trained soldier, with the better reflexes, would win. But even he has no immunity against incoming from hidden positions.
Steshin: I understand what you’re getting at. In the past few years the Spetznaz have been hailed as “our everything”.
Khodakovsky: For sure, a lot of resources have been invested in the Spetznaz formations. Whereas the [regular] army were sort of pushed to the side, treated sort of like grey mice. By the same token, the drone reconnaissance program has been implemented at the level of Headquarters, while it really should be in every single company. I’ll go ever further: there should be a drone and its operator in every storming group, which is smaller than a platoon. When I say this to people who are responsible for the unmanned drone operation, it’s like a revelation to them. But for us, it’s already become common practice.
Steshin: What’s next? What tasks has the Vostok Battalion been given to do next? And just in general, in our theater of military operations.
Khodakovsky: First we’ll finish with this whole Azovsteel business. We have already transitioned from purely military tasks to more specialized ones. Now that all these enemies have been taken prisoner, the next step is to finish the entire clean-up operation. We need to find out if there is still anybody left down there. We also understand that the enemy might have left some caches, or even — this is not as crazy as it sounds — groups of diversionaries. We encountered precisely that, when we were fighting near Volnovakha. There was a group hiding out in a cache, in the middle of the night they opened a hatch to get some air, one of our patrols just happened to notice and sounded the alarm. And this happened after we had already taken Volnovakha and considered it to be ours! In Azovsteel there are tons of places to hide out and wait it out, until nobody is left but regular police, and everybody has relaxed their guard. Where are we off to now? It could be anywhere, there are still lots of places… And we are considered “universal” now [all-purpose], we know how to fight, and we can also carry out special operations.
Steshin: I have the feeling that people in the Ukraine have still not fully absorbed the fact that their “Fortress Azovsteel” project, which they hyped to the entire world, has finally ended? What will happen once they figure this out?
Khodakovsky: The official propaganda in Kiev can say whatever they wish. They can spin it like, “We evacuated out own people out of the factory.” But the reality is more banal, and even somewhat humiliating: A grouping which outnumbered us, was squished into a corner and had to raise the white flag. They gave up. The enemy has understood that every grouping he has, every grouping currently hunkering down in the cities, we can bring them all down to the status of “the defenders of Mariupol”. They might continue their usual tactic of hiding in the cities, using civilians as “human shields”. But it didn’t help them then [and it won’t help them now]. They had eight years to plan for this war, they boasted that they had the “strongest army in Europe”, and look what happened, it was all destroyed. By us. Not without a lot of effort. But that is what makes our victory all the more significant.