“Anyone who volunteers will not be allowed into the Donbass. There will be a tough selection
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are gathering additional forces to the borders of the unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DNR and LNR). As it became known to Gazeta.Ru, the Union of Donbass Volunteers public organization has already formed detachments to be sent from Russia to the line of confrontation in the event of an aggravation of the situation.
Additional forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and nationalist battalions have been deployed to the borders of the republics. The number of groups "East" and "North" here has increased to 112 thousand people. They are armed with tanks T-64 and T-72, BMP-1, BMP-2, BTR-70, BTR-80 - with a total number of over 800 armored vehicles.
Artillery is represented by self-propelled guns 2S1 Gvozdika, 2S3 Akatsiya, 2A36 Giacint, Msta-B, D30 towed howitzers, Grad multiple rocket launchers (MLRS), M-12 Rapira anti-tank guns. The American anti-tank missile systems (ATGM) "Javelin" have recently been put into service. Of the air defense systems, these groups have anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) S-300 and Buk-M1, to which the US-made Stinger complexes have been added.
The armed formations of the unrecognized republics are noticeably inferior to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in terms of the number of personnel. There are about 20,800 military personnel in the DPR army, and approximately 14,730 active military personnel in the LPR. There are also volunteer reservists here who undergo regular training at army training grounds and are ready to arrive at the military units to which they are assigned at any time.
The exact number and range of weapons currently in the possession of the DPR and LPR are unknown. According to Ukrainian media estimates, at the end of 2018, the fighters of the self-proclaimed republics had at least 400 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), 200 tanks, 180 multi-purpose transporters (MT-LB), 140 self-propelled artillery mounts (SAU), 500 artillery pieces and 150 combat MLRS machines.
Russian volunteers helped to turn the tide in the Donbass in 2014-2015 during the offensive of the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions in the DPR and LPR. These people were not sent to the conflict zone by the Russian authorities, but for various reasons made an independent decision to go to Donbass.
In subsequent years, their presence and participation in hostilities contributed to the organization of the so-called boilers for units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
“For obvious reasons, I can’t name the exact number of volunteers ready to go to the Donbass,” said State Duma deputy , chairman of the board of the Union of Donbass Volunteers and former chairman of the government of the DPR Alexander Boroday to Gazeta.ru . - I will only note that the organization consists of 16 thousand people. Many of them are natives of the Donbass, or have family ties there and live in the Rostov region. Territorial branches operate throughout Russia, and the number of volunteers can be significantly increased in the event of an aggravation of the situation in the Donbass.”
At the same time, Borodai emphasized that the Union of Donbass Volunteers is not a state structure, but an interregional public organization.
“We are able to quickly mobilize our members to be sent to Donbass. In 2014, everything went without any approval, the same thing is happening now. Formed detachments of volunteers are already ready to be sent, their places of concentration are kept secret. All fighters have combat experience, including commanders, many of whom are former Russian officers. There are also self-taught people who have learned to command in the war. In the event of an offensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, all of them are ready to immediately join the battle, ”added Borodai.
The presence of 16 thousand volunteers is an impressive force - this is the size of four motorized rifle brigades (the structure of the brigade in peacetime is up to four thousand people). They need to be armed with small arms, anti-tank weapons, provided with armored vehicles, communications equipment.
“Volunteers will be armed already on the territory of Donbass at the expense of the arsenals of the armed formations of the DPR and LPR. Many of these arsenals have been replenished with captured Ukrainian weapons. Weapons, equipment - enough. Another thing is that it is very outdated, - told Gazeta.Ru Alexei Koptev , who fought in the Donbass as a volunteer in 2016-2019 and served as a senior lieutenant of the 4th Special Purpose Reconnaissance and Assault Battalion (RShB SpN) of the army DNR. - However, I believe that the republics will soon have new weapons that the Americans and other NATO countries supply to Ukraine . You don't even have to beat him up. Ukrainian military sell weapons.”
Military expert Vladislav Shurygin believes that although the process of sending volunteers is proactive and independent of the official Russian authorities, it will be carefully controlled by the volunteer organizations themselves and the leadership of the republics.
“The flow of Russian volunteers to Donbass will be controlled. From the experience of past years, it is known that among the volunteers there were different people who came to the war not always with pure thoughts and ideological convictions. Now there is more order and military discipline, to which everyone is obliged to obey, including volunteers. Whoever volunteers in the Donbass will not be allowed to cross the border. There will be a tough selection, Shurygin told Gazeta.Ru.
The expert believes that the presence of Russian volunteers in the combat zone "will significantly increase the morale of the defenders of Donbass." “It's not even about their numbers. The current armies of the DPR and LPR have recently been conducting mostly positional battles, and volunteers who have gone through Debaltseve and other places of fierce fighting have experience in offensive operations and active maneuvering. Their presence will provide great support to local fighters,” Shurygin is sure.