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Varyag: Both we and the Ukrainians are sustaining huge losses

Donetsk self-defenders are fighting for Avdeyevka. They have already taken back part of it. In the meantime, the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have begun to issue passports that will probably be valid in Russia, the commander of Russky Ostrog detachment (better known as Varyag) Alexander Matyushin has told EADaily about the current military and social developments in the DPR.

How are things on the front, particularly, near Avdeyevka?

Things have changed there recently. There are active fights near Zaytsevo, with Horlivka agglomeration being constantly shelled. We are also fighting near Avdeyevka. We have already entered that town and are controlling three streets. The sides are using tube artillery, mortars, snipers. The Donetsk Airport, Peski and Volvo Center are being bombarded. Here you can see tanks. There are also fights near Maryino, with Kuybyshevsky, Kirovsky and Petrovsky districts of Donetsk being under fire. Also involved in the fights are Sakhanka, Kominternovo and some other frontline settlements.

The conflict is escalating all along the front, with neither of the sides trying to conceal its activities. But our politicians keep sticking to Minsk II and talking about some “commitments” and “provocations” and are refusing to admit that what is happening in Donbass is a full-scale war. There are losses on both sides. Hospitals on both sides are full of injured soldiers and civilians. Both we and the Ukrainians are sustaining huge losses.

Can one link Russia’s withdrawal from Syria with the current developments in Donbass? Is there any link between these two conflicts?

In Syria and Donbass, we see two different fronts of one global war - Subcomandante Marcos’s World War IV. There may be some link between the events in Syria and Donbass. When Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Kiev, we forecast an escalation and it happened.

We should not feel defeated just because we have withdrawn from Syria. We still have bases there and are still present in that region. Russia has achieved certain goals in Syria. It has reversed the war and has liberated a number of cities. Now that RUR rate and oil prices are low, full-scale war is a costly business.

The war in Donbass has nothing to do with the forces withdrawn from Syria as it is developing on the ground. But the money the Russians will save in Syria may well be used in Donbass. As of now, we have seen no soldiers from Syria in Donbass. The Donetsk self-defenders are using their own resources.

Would you, please, tell us about the issue of DPR passports?

Yes, the DPR authorities have actually started issuing passports. The first to receive them will be those who have lost their papers as a result of the war. In fact, the Donetsk authorities have had no forms left and the only option for people from DPR to get a passport was to go to Ukraine.

The leaders of DPR have already received the new passport. It is very much like the Russian passport. I think the DPR authorities may have some unspoken arrangements with the Russians that their new passport will be valid in Russia, that is, you will be able to use it for entering the country. Even though, officially, the Kremlin has refused to recognize the passport, my sources in Moscow have told me that DPR citizens will be able to use them for entering the Russian territory.

Will they keep the Ukrainian passport?

Yes, they will. Many of them are forced to enter the Ukrainian territory. So, they will need the Ukrainian passport. This is a kind of dual nationality system – similar to the ones once applied in Transnistria and South Ossetia.

Interviewed by Kristina Melnikova

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