Russian Regulars in Donetsk
DONETSK, Ukraine – It’s no longer about amateurs. There is a full-scale war going on, and it’s fought by professionals. The Russians are here – and they’re making a grab for power in eastern Ukraine.
If there was ever any doubt, it was quashed this week when separatist leaders and fighters here opened up to journalists about their Russian roots. In interviews with the Kyiv Post, Vice News, and the Financial Times, fighters in the so-called Vostok Battalion identified themselves as Russian citizens, with several saying they were from the Autonomous Republic of Chechnya.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, top Russian officials have repeatedly denied the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Most recently, Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic denied claims that he was responsible for sending Chechen mercenaries to fight alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine, saying that such accusations were wholly “untrue.”
Still, Kadyrov did not deny that Chechens are fighting in Ukraine, adding, “If somewhere in the conflict zone somebody saw a Chechen, that’s their personal business.”
This doesn't appear to be a full scale invasion - not yet at least. What Putin's next move will be is anybody's guess.
It seems the new guys and the original separatists are not on the same page:
The battalion’s seizure of the Donetsk regional administration building on May 29, which had previously been controlled by local separatists swearing allegiance to the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, underscores the growing control of Russian militants in Ukraine’s east.
The battalion, a well-organized unit of mercenaries comprised mostly of Russian citizens, according to Varan, one of the unit’s commanders who declined to give his real name, stormed the building and forced the separatists of the DPR out onto the streets.