The interview continues. Someone who knows a lot about Serb mercenaries got in touch to talk about the situation in East Ukraine.
In the first part of this interview we talked about Bratislav Zivkovic’s activities in the Crimea and the media storm when he returned home. In parts two and three we looked at Serb sniper Dejan Beric who became a celebrity with his YouTube videos. Part four dealt with Zack Novak and other English-speakers working on Novorossiya’s propaganda campaign.
In this part of the talk we discuss the motivation of Serb volunteers. My interviewee prefers to remain anonymous. His opinions are his own. If you have anything to add or correct then please get in touch.
1. How did Belgrade react to Serb mercenaries joining the Novorossiya forces?
In mid-August 2014 almost all Ukrainian media channels reported a story about Miroslav Rohac, a Novorussian soldier captured at battle of Ilovaisk. Media outlets in Serbia discovered that he was a Slovakian citizen of Serb origin. To make matter even worse Bratislav Zivkovic’s men informed the public that Miroslav was in fact a sniper, a type especially hated by the Ukrainian military.
The Serbian government could not take any more embarrassment and warned the public that a law would soon come into effect declaring all volunteers criminals who will face up to 10 years in jail. Until 2014 Ukraine and Serbia had been on very friendly terms politically, especially when the Ukrainian government refused to recognise Kosovo’s secession from Serbia.
2. How did the Ukrainian and its supporters react to Serb volunteers?
The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior informed the Serbian government, and public for that matter, that they had information on 6 other Serbs who had been killed in battle for Iliovaisk. No-one ever published the names and we can’t confirm for sure this information. The Ukrainian side have often published stories about dead and captured Serbs.
Many innocent Serbs working and living in Ukraine paid a heavy price for the meddling of their countrymen in the Ukrainian crisis. Albanian and Croatian hackers regularly complied lists of all the Serbs living in Ukraine they could find. Then they would post those names on Ukrainian nationalist forums accusing them of being agents of Moscow. This was a cruel thing to do because most of the Serbian workers and businessmen were married to Ukrainian women and the kids from these marriages suffered greatly amid public hysteria.
On the other side, Streklov claimed that his troops knew about an Albanian and a Croat, hinting that the Cossacks captured them alive. We will never found out their names, or if it was only propaganda aimed at the Ukrainians who had published stories about dead and captured Serbs.
3. Why did Serbs fight in Novorossiya?
Most of our volunteers were hardcore anti-communists (who arrived to fight for the Communist East, go figure), on the other hand, no one in Serbia has any sympathy for units like Azov and Aidar, both foreign units with Neo-Nazi reputations. People in general do not have anything against Ukraine, its people, army, culture, or history but they were very upset by these Ukrainian volunteer units. They saw the Azov Battalion in particular as an archenemy of the Serbs.
Many young men left Serbia just to face Azov in battle. These nationalistic Ukrainian volunteer units remind Serbs of the Ustasha army that served the Croatian state under Nazi occupation.
4. Are there any Croats involved in the fighting?
We know for sure that Croatian volunteers have joined Battalion Azov. We even have some of their names. Most of these young men had no prior military training. Their motives are mixed.
A Croat called Miroslav Masic has claimed he left a good job (1,000 Euros a month) and his wife and children to join Ukrainian Army because of his far-right ideology and background as a nationalist activist. He also had claimed he had nothing personal against Russians or the Serbs. Many other Croatians openly claim they have come to find and kill Serbs.
Looking from today’s perspective I don’t think they had any idea who they were up against at that time. After Zivkovic left and Beric became famous many Serbs with years of military experience joined the Novorussian troops.
5. Who were these experienced soldiers?
One was Dejan Vujic, a Serbian commando who lived in Belarus at the beginning of Ukrainian crisis and would end up working for Ministry of Defense in Novorussia as commander of unit responsible for ‘anti terrorist’ activities.
Find out more about Vujic in part six.
If you want to show some love for this blog then feel free to buy my books in paperback, hardback, or ebook: