No Russians among Slavyansk self-defense forces – NYT reporters

Published time: May 04, 2014 20:47

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Self-defense forces in the anti-Kiev stronghold of Slavyansk are Ukrainians, not Russians, who distrust the new regime and the Western powers that support it, New York Times reporters have discovered. The forces also said they are not being paid to fight.

Two New York Times reporters have spent a week in the city of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, talking to members of the self-defense forces. The journalists visited self-defense checkpoints and observed the forces as they battled Ukrainian troops amid a military assault on the city on Friday.

The resistance fighters of the 12th Company, part of the People’s Self-Defense of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, deny claims made by Kiev and its Western sponsors that Russia or private tycoons are paying them to fight.

“This is not a job,” one of the activists, Dmitry told the NYT reporters. “It is a service.”

Armed with dated weapons, the self-defense activists said they would have bought new weapons if they had financial support. The NYT journalists reported seeing weapons from the 1980s and 1990s in checkpoints and warehouses.

 

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The activists explained that they purchased some of their weaponry from corrupt Ukrainian soldiers, while taking others from seized police buildings or confiscating them from captured Ukrainian armored vehicles.

“Much of their stock was identical to the weapons seen in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers and Interior Ministry Special Forces troops at government positions outside the city,” the NYT reporters said in an article published on Saturday.

“These included 9-millimeter Makarov pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles, and a few Dragunov sniper rifles, RPK light machine guns and portable antitank rockets, including some with production stamps from the 1980s and early 1990s.”

The head of Slavyansk self-defense, Yury, also chuckled at claims made by Kiev authorities and the West that Russians are fighting side by side with them.

“We have no Muscovites here,” Yury told the journalists. “I have experience enough.”

 

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