Lieutenant-General Yuri Alleru head of the National guard of Ukraine since December 2015. How changed is a military formation created at the time of the soldiers of Internal troops and representatives of Self Maidan, over the past half year, why children in the Crimea and in the Donbas frightened national guardsmen, about the causes of the war, and those who protect the country is now in the East, the commander of the National guard described in the first part of an interview with “Apostrophe”.
Meeting with “Apostrophe” Yuri Alleru appointed a day of celebrations on the occasion of the second anniversary of the quick reaction brigade is the only military formation composed of NSU, created in full accordance with NATO standards. “In fact, this anniversary coincided with another very important to me personally holiday — the independence Day of Georgia,” explains Alleron.
“Apostrophe” is: why for you is a special holiday?
Yuri Allenov: I was there seven years. And now we have a very close relationship with the National guard of Georgia. And a lot of guys-and the Georgians who are the real patriots of Ukraine, is now at the forefront in the Donbass, there is a serious perform combat functions.
And many of them are there?
— Number not name. I will say that we have there today, there is a certain group of scouts, whose main task — combating subversive groups of Russians.
© flickr.com, Ministry of Defense of UkraineСолдаты APU in the East of Ukraine
Yes, volunteers who have a residence permit. Some even got married here, started families. And they are fighting on our side.
— How many volunteers-foreigners in the national guard? And how do you manage to resolve a very painful issue with granting them citizenship?
— You know, the question of citizenship is not my prerogative. I can only request it. In 2014-2015, it really was a problem. The active phase of hostilities, people from all over the world have expressed their desire to help Ukraine — and it was more than we were able to provide… we had a whole unit formed from the people from the Caucasus. I was personally acquainted with the commander of the battalion name Dzhokhar Dudayev ISA Munayev. We met in Debaltsevo. And then he died…
Ukraine today left with their problems alone. Today there are many people who want to lend us a shoulder in the struggle for real independence. However, Ukraine remains a shield, a buffer between Europe and Russia, which are afraid as a strong state and weak. The Baltic countries are on our side. They understand that immediately after the Ukraine would have an impact on them. The poles are also aware of this… I had to deal with military-political leadership of Turkey, which has a powerful, one of the most active and strongest armies in NATO. So they’re also terribly afraid of Russia, the invasion, which tumble down, if you start some kind of confrontation. Therefore, the world today, and has such a subtle and careful policy: nobody wants to have Russia as an enemy.
Therefore, instead of an effective response to Russian aggression we see only “deep concern”?
— Unfortunately, people today are quite insincere in their feelings. They want peace and that nothing had to achieve to do. We are on their land defending independence and have to spend human and financial resources to create a modern army. In parallel, we need to boost the economy. It is necessary to resolve the existing political differences. This is a serious problem. In parallel to reform, to fight and to think that you’re independent — it is hard sometimes.
Independently us today to face the challenges and threats it is simply impossible. While help from partners is allocated is not always useful and effective. Therefore, its leadership works hard to balance the threats to and distribution of foreign aid.
You know, I had even to hear some narrow-minded generals from other structures also Express the opinion: why do we need a second army, that is, the national guard, if one army is already there? Such statements are, you know, at least unprofessional. The national guard has its own set of tasks. And only in defence of our tasks similar to the tasks of the Armed forces. At the same time we are responsible for the protection and defense of the border. We are faced with the task of destroying the armed groups inside the country. There are still a bunch of challenges that are unique to the National guard.
But when war comes, we, by law, go into the subordination of the Ministry of defence. And when the land component of the National guard will perform tasks together with the Armed forces — we must act on the same tactics. We should have one system of training, same weapons, one logistics system. These issues should be solved already today, the level of training. And some of the leaders do not understand this.
— Why do you think they do not understand?
— There is a lot of guesswork. I would like to believe that the reason was carelessness. Although the roots are much deeper. And it’s not a state approach. Therefore, in these matters sometimes it is necessary to conduct explanatory work with leaders and generals of other departments.
© RIA Novosti, stringer | go to photobacteria the National guard of Ukraine during a training on the methodology of NATO on the ground in Zolochiv district, Lviv region
— What about claims that the creation and funding of the National guard is one of the steps to building a police state? This opinion is often possible to hear…
— You know, we just have to recall the recent past. In 1992, I returned to Ukraine from the Caucasus, where he served. And got into the National guard. Such morale, such patriotism, such a feeling of national dignity was not then, probably, anywhere else. And it’s all extremely motivated. Then about money speech did not go. But to get into the National guard, it was necessary to pass serious selection. Below 1,78 m guys at the service did not take…
I was a brigade commander in Simferopol. It wasn’t the guys, it was pride and beauty. The national guard — it sounded good… But the political controversy and struggle over the distribution of influence and power that then took place, led to the destruction of the national guard.
Although, if at the beginning of 2014, there were those powerful military units that existed in 1990-ies, not a single Russian soldier had crossed the border of our country. The guard would not allow it. In Kerch was a powerful brigade, was a powerful brigade in Simferopol, in Sevastopol. Then great attention was paid that the formation might respond to the threat.
What we had at the beginning of 2014? Broke up the Ministry of the interior, escaped from the country President, the Minister of internal Affairs, commander of Internal troops, And Russian… started to implement its plan for the annexation of Crimea, which was prepared ten years, no less.
— Where do you get this conclusion?
I was a brigade commander in the Crimea, he commanded units in Krasnoperekopsk, Simferopol, Sevastopol… my grandson was born in Simferopol! And I saw that since 2005, officers of the Russian black sea fleet in the Crimea who were born in Ukraine had Ukrainian roots, wives, families, the Russians began to remove from Sevastopol, Crimea. There remained only those who were born in Russia and had no connection with Ukraine. They are already preparing for some aggression. This was not accepted then to speak, but now, the Analytics shows that it was not a coincidence. The orange revolution of 2004 showed that Ukrainians are not very happy with the status of a colony of Russia. Even the slightest disagreement with Russia, each trying to be really independent and to identify themselves as a separate nation and the state have always been its Northern neighbor huge outrage. And the war, which began in 2014, is the proof that Russia never saw Ukraine as an independent country.
— But attempts to bite off pieces of Ukrainian territory from the Russian side were made throughout our independence. At the time a lot of the noise was due to claims on the island of Tuzla. What can we say about the non-public assault by Russia in the times of Kuchma, and after him! But then it all stopped. Why didn’t it work this time?
— We ourselves are to blame. Because all previous attempts did not react as they should react. Somewhere silent, somewhere afraid, which is not shown in a timely manner teeth… I just expressed my opinion on the subject earlier. But today, I’m commander of the National guard. So must be discreet and say as a high official of the state level.
At the same time we have the threat is not only external, but internal. We have 18-19 year old soldiers, at whose head is a vacuum. Today, neither the school nor the institutions almost in no way affect the national consciousness of the youth. There was only the beginnings of a national idea, because there was a threat. We teamed up because we came to grief.
So now the best option is to unite, to consolidate, to create a state, to lift the economy. Not to brag, as my daughter says, a thermometer, and to unite around a common goal. And to think not only about sustenance but also about what will happen tomorrow. I would like a little more responsibility — both the youth and the older generation — for the future of our country. This is very important, I think.
That is why we in the national guard went to implement that other declared. We are creating the chaplaincy Institute. The corresponding decision has already been approved.
— For a long time?
A little over a month ago. We have a resolution, and all the necessary documents. We have already started the selection. The chaplain, regardless of their religious affiliation, will take care of spirituality, to teach soldiers to follow God’s commandments, and to help the commanders to clearly understand the condition of their subordinates. It will go in the first place, for the benefit of the country.
— You have provided for the satisfaction of religious needs of all believers? Military service are not only Christians but also Muslims, Jews…
— Yes, all. Regardless of their religious affiliation, chaplains, first and foremost, become assistants and advisers to the commanders, however, will not have a relationship to the leadership of the military unit. They will create places to socialize and Christians and Muslims and believers of other religions.
This is extremely important. Especially when life is hard and there are fights. These moments give subordinates confidence in the decision of the commander in the execution of their orders — even if it means sacrificing his life.
© RIA Novosti, stringer | go to fotoracconti the course of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kiev
However, we have in 2014 in every part of came the clergy. On top they wore camouflage uniforms — regardless of whether it was Catholic or Orthodox priest. Or even a clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate. Although for the latter we have now introduced restrictions. When we created the Institute of chaplains in the National guard, came to the high officials of the UOC-MP and asked: why don’t you take our representatives chaplains?
— Why do not you take? I was sure that they don’t want to…
— First, it is the decision of the Cabinet spelled out.
— What chaplains can’t be the priests of the UOC-MP?
Yes. Prescribed: “with the exception of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate”… I representatives of the UOC-MP, which then came to me, said, “Dear, God is one”. Reminded that there are certain problems associated with the activities of their Church. Even gave an example, which in my eyes was. I worked with intelligence, with the people’s resistance, when the column of separatists with Russian mercenaries drove up to the Church and left the abbots of the UOC and blessed them for a “Holy war” against the Ukrainian people. They were going to fight against our guys… Ask: how do you explain it? They didn’t have the words…
And today, unfortunately, Russia does not leave attempts to affect areas that are under the influence, in fact, the Russian Orthodox Church. And these territories in today’s Ukraine are quite large. This is the South, East and center, first and foremost.
— Early chaplains who went to the ATO zone, in fact did it on a volunteer basis. And had no salary, no social security. Now the situation will change?
We put them in the state. Chaplains are part of the National guard. And will have social security, and wages, and the corresponding status.
— Let’s return to the Crimea. You previously mentioned that Russia was preparing for the annexation long before 2014…
— Sure it is 100%.
— That is for you, these events were not such a surprise?
— Crimea, unfortunately, has always stood as something of an outlier. It so happened that Ukraine did not come. I finished school in Crimea — and we have a pretty good Ukrainian language were taught. But the development of the Ukrainian language and culture on the Peninsula, the preservation of Ukrainian heritage have always financed by a residual principle. And it is very much felt.
When a part of the national guard, which I commanded in the early 1990s, went to Sevastopol, at our backs, the locals were shouting “Nazis! Fascists!”, eggs tried to throw… But gradually, seeing that we were trying to help and state authorities and the local population, when it was difficult, people changed their attitude. And that was very important.
© RIA Novosti, Vasily Batanov | go to fotobanka oath of recruits of the national guard of the Russian Federation in the Crimea
And today we are trying to raise the status of the national guardsman to such a level that the people’s confidence in us was unconditional. Today, we are powerful, we know what we’re doing. Yes, we have many shortcomings, but we know about them and are working to eliminate them. And, hopefully, we can convince our fellow citizens in the East of Ukraine and in Crimea that “the fascists of the national guard under”, which scares them Russia, exist only in the minds of the Russian propagandists.
— Are more frightening is not even the National guard in General, and, say, the fighters of “Azov”.
— “Azov” is a separate issue. Today it is a popular movement that United young people. Biletsky was and several people, who at one time wanted to become leaders of some groups, formations or associations. You know, in the 1970s United the athletes, and then there was some “crimson jackets”, sports suits, leather jacket… the Unit “Azov” was motivated by patriotism and national resistance in the South. Why “The Basics”? Because they were in Mariupol. And when the first fighting, that “Azov” together with military formations and units of the National guard liberated Mariupol.
It was a volunteer unit. They chose some of their characters, some their own attitude to history and tradition, they do a lot for show… of Course, their ranks were hit and unscrupulous people, and those who have a criminal record… you Know, in war as in muddy water to catch fish easier. Some evil manifests itself with the worst hand, using this strange environment, has been improving their well-being. These were in the “Azov” and other volunteer units.
— It is not only a volunteer, right?
Yes. Although the volunteer has more. Because volunteers — all who want. The military somehow controlled by personnel officers.
“Azov” is a unit that was motivated by a national idea and geographically developed on the basis of the Ministry of internal Affairs. And in 2015, it passed in the National guard. Why in some cases it’s hard to explain what they’re doing? Because in military units is a system: the selection of young recruits, career officers. They adhere to the regulations. We took this unit and in the more than half a year a lot of things done. We miss them through their training centers so that they clearly understand all of the military ceremonies, try as possible to remove these pagan gestures and rituals… But not breaking through the knee, because today, unfortunately, the other motivated popular resistance in the East of the country.
© AFP 2016, Sergei Irportant soldiers of the battalion “Azov”
Engaging the service of a separate unit, we coordinate with the leadership of the anti-terrorist operation, General staff. In most cases, those who are “doing”, are irrelevant to the separate detachment of special purpose “Azov”. About “Azov” say a lot, including bad things. But to understand the real situation, it is enough to talk with residents of Mariupol. There in most cases there is trust and hope in “Azov”. Although there are those who are dissatisfied with them. Because it is the “Azov” scaring the children in Donetsk.
— In Donetsk, scare children, and Dmitry Yarosh and his associates, and “Donbass”.
And The National Guard. And I have already two criminal cases from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.
— For two?
— First appeared somewhere in may-June 2014. Second — when I became commander of the National guard. They bring criminal cases against Ukrainian officials. Just think, some cynicism: I’m on their land, in their country to protect the interests of the state, its people, and against me someone in this regard, considers it possible to initiate criminal proceedings in Russia!
— So, maybe there is not only the case brought? Maybe you’re already there and condemned in absentia to prison — and you don’t know.
— I don’t care! Whatever difficult relationship with some heads of other security agencies, we are all United by one thought: if you opened a criminal case in Russia is a kind of reward. So you’re doing everything right. So we can safely perceive. When me ask: “And will go to Russia?”, I was joking in response to: “I Can, but only for 15 years at a time”
— Or parade, as some promised.
Well, to say about the parade is too early. Although I’m in the Crimea a lot of time lived. Graduated from high school there. Know Crimea well enough. And if the time comes to go to war, I will be able to fight there.
— But do we need such citizens, for whom the decisive factor is exclusively the fullness of the purse, and the fridge?
— You know I know a lot of people there. Almost without a break was there for 1.5 years and all the time in the East… And there (on Donbass, — “Apostrophe”) a lot of Ukrainian villages, people speak Ukrainian language… It is our fellow citizens. To abandon them is somehow not human, not Christian.
© RIA Novosti, Valery Melnikov | go to photosanketa of weapons of a calibre less than 100 mm from the line of contact in the self-proclaimed Luhansk people’s Republic
Yes, there are freaks who take advantage of a situation is some positions have preference in the management activities of the so-called “republics”. But as soon as we got to block their oxygen, as soon as you take control of the border — we don’t need to even go in there and fight there. All by itself will fall into place. Bands we clean up. You just need to give people there the opportunity to breathe the air of freedom that we have here. And everything will fall into place.
People are not to blame for what happened. The state was also not ready to accept. A lot of people who are today in the occupied territories, were ready to go to Ukraine, leaving there all — but here no one is waiting, they have nowhere to go. Even if a person there is just a room or small house in the property — here we can offer him that. So people stay and live there.
My daughter has a classmate that now lives in Kharkov, and her parents — in Torez. She had a pass, the validity of which has recently expired. Her father is dying, the doctors say that he left to live a week or two — and she can’t go. To blame these people that they were not to arrive in Odessa?
To get a feel for what Donbass, there should just be a little bit. Of course, the residents of Donbass are slightly different mentality in relation to Ukraine, natives of the Western Ukraine. But Eastern Ukrainians, the same Ukrainians, like everyone else.
And is very wrong today, those who believe that you just have to cut the Donbass and forget. So it is impossible! Otherwise we will get nowhere. Tear our country into small pieces — who in Romania, someone in Poland, who in Muscovy… no country. This in no case be allowed.
— You spoke about the attitude of the local to the national guard in the Crimea. And when the war began, and you were in the area of the ATO — what does from the local to the Ukrainian military dominated, according to your observations?
— You know, still, when you hear the word “Crimea”, I feel like my heart as glass, scratching with something sharp. Still choking from the feeling of impotence, from the fact that while we have done nothing to protect the Crimea…
In Donbass the situation was very different. When the war started, we saw a frightened people. People who did not want war. Who did not understand what was happening. Which was already intimidated by Russian propaganda, which since independence has shown them a completely alternative reality. All that was on the Maidan, they are evil. Everyone who was there — “maydanutye”, with the exception of “Berkut”. People pushed to the conclusion that it is better to separate and go to Russia. But today they felt what the Russian aggression, how powerful can be the influence of propaganda on the consciousness of ordinary citizens. They felt in their own skin that their coveted “Russian world” is a totalitarian regime, it is similar to North Korea, with its eternal “approval”. This is a path to nowhere.
— Do you believe that the people who are there, it really okay?
I don’t believe, and know. Because I communicate with some of them.
— In the liberated territories? Or occupied?
Occupied. Not to say that EN masse, but rethinking is already underway.
I would say more, today the people in the occupied territories there is anger at the country’s leadership. They feel that they have been abandoned, I believe that we do nothing to release them to return. The feeling is there. They are tired of what is happening. They are tired of living in those inhumane conditions, when they are even adequate medical care. People dream about peace and hope for tomorrow. And this hope is no longer there. They are there to survive. But are those who do not want to change his mind, admit that you were wrong at the time…
Donbas, as the East in General — thing is pretty thin. Before, when I didn’t know so close to the region thought is the miners strength. It — workers. A small-town potentates in the Donbass, Yanukovych and Akhmetov, inclusive, all the years of independence and did just that, breaking people over his knee, imposing slavish principles of subservience to the power that had criminal gangs, dressed all in the Donbass, and the belief that money solves everything. It Is The Donbass. They are honest. But at the same time, too long broken, and they somewhat began to resemble a flock. They were told to go this way — they went and told to go into the other went the other… No there is already the power of the spirit of the miners, “servility,” most of them are already at the gene level leaked. Remember the story of the creation of Yuzovka, the current of Donetsk. In this region to work in the mines were often sent people who had problems with the law. And Ukraine did not come.
— As in the Crimea?
Yes. I know in the same Lugansk people who in their time arrived from Western Ukraine. And they are just as indigenous Luhansk, now began to speak the language of Russian propaganda, those clichés that are daily poured on them with Russian TV channels: “And you — “maydanutye” Natsik!”… Say: “Wait, stop! You’re from Lviv arrived — what are you saying?” Here it is.
© RIA Novosti, Vasily Batanov | go to photobacteria of Navy Day in Russia
But today we hold a great job. Try to help the local population, the grandparents who were left alone. Conduct counter-propaganda brought humanitarian aid. Try to inform to people simple thought: the national guard is the people’s army. And their including. In short, help than can. Sometimes this makes a major effect. But a lot of work ahead. And it will not be less until, until we build a system of information counteraction.
— It does not?
Three years at war. And information space of Donbass is still not closed our information resources. No grandparents on the Internet. And for the rest not for all available. So what do you think — is this resistance or not?
When we were at the airport and sat in one of the settlements close to 5 days to perform certain tasks — not one Ukrainian channel have not seen. 5 Russian, 2 in Donetsk, all that in the language of the Moscow talks. And every day those people on the brain — cap-cap-cap… So what to say?..
I’ll tell you more. I was ashamed… We were fighting in Yasinovataya, my commandos went there together with other groups, with the Armed forces… then We suffered the loss… And the boys are back — and with anger asked: “Comrade General, explain what we’re doing here?!” I try to explain that Ukraine is United and so on. And in response to hear: “no, it’s not that. We all know that. We’re following orders. But we went there for us beating from artillery, firing ATGM from the Windows of gunfire allowed, and then people ran out from 50 years and older — and shout: “*get x*K out of here! You do not want us here!” And we don’t understand: who do we protect? What are we doing here? What put head?!”
And you can’t imagine how difficult it is to speak in these moments with soldiers who are ready with their lives to obey orders — and facing the fact that people is waiting for them… In such conditions it is very difficult to keep confidence in the correctness of what you are doing…
— You say that the situation is changing now…
— It’s hard to say how it changes. Because of such close contact I have is less and less. I have to do a certain popular resistance there. And the people that go in there differently expressed, in the Crimea and in the Donbas. They say that there is a rethinking of what Russia is. Today fear: yeah, Ukraine will come — and what will happen to me? I at one time made a choice. And now, when they come, they’ll destroy me?.. They already fear that we will come — in some cases. That’s why we have to get serious information policy to communicate to people in the occupation simple idea: when we come to the occupied territory — we’re not their enemies. Those who shot, betrayed, killed, committed a crime — they will answer. And the rest just continue to live as it should be. So here we have huge, serious and very fine work.