Who can disclose the Kremlin gang better than acting Russian military?
Russian Major Vladimir Starkov captured in the Donbas is the most high-ranking officer of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in the hands of Ukrainians.
In 2014, to the regret of the Ukrainian Special Forces, our authorities offered for exchange a high-ranking servicewoman of the Russian Special Forces Kulygina, a friend of FSB Colonel Girkin, one of the ideologists behind the Ukraine's invasion.
We cannot repeat the same mistake with Starkov and two other captive Russian terrorists, special forces operatives Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov. They should witness at the court and give an evaluation to their bosses, so that the world learns of the crimes of the Putin's regime from the terrorists themselves, from the Russian servicemen.
Who is Starkov? The terrorist has provided enough information about himself, and we know enough from his interrogations. He has ratted out everyone and everything.
So, Starkov Vladimir Alexandrovich was born on April 29, 1979, in Zuevka, the Kirov oblast, Russia. Currently resides in Teisin village, Khabarovsk Krai. His badge number is Ф-594345.
Starkov is married to Ukrainian citizen Larisa Starkova (Ovsyannikova), who was born Aug. 31, 1978, employed by the military unit No. 59313-6 in Khabarovsk Krai. They have two sons - Yevgeniy, born in 2000, and Nikita, born in 2007.
Major's education - Kirov Military Aviation Technical School. From 2003, Starkov served in the Khabarovsk Krai in the military unit No. 55487 - 6th arsenal of the Main Missile and Artillery Directorate of Russia's Defense Ministry in Teysin city.
Starkov's career developed quite plainly with no prospects ahead. He lived miles from nowhere, and transfer from Teysin seemed rather vague. Starkov repeatedly tried to move to the European part of Russia but to no avail.
A chance to leave Teysin loomed in 2015. In March 2015 the personnel department of the Eastern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces told Starkov there was an opportunity to serve in the European part of Russia with good prospects - a lot of new job opportunities in the Rostov region. Striving to get out of Teysin, Starkov was ready to go any lengths. Nobody said anything to him beforehand.
March 3, 2015, Starkov goes to the 12th Reserve Command in the city of Novocherkassk (12th Reserve Command is responsible for manning and work with the personnel of Russian military units in the Donbas).
He was ordered to arrive in non-regulation clothing - field uniform of old design "Flora" without insignia - with all personal documents.
Next day, 73 officers gathered in a concert room of the former Novocherkassk military communications college. They were all military like Starkov, ready to do anything to take a chance and make their way, get out of the morass, third sort positions, and remote garrisons.
It was all very routine and unpoetic. Lieutenant-Colonel, head of HR in the 12th command of the reserve, announced them in terse style that they were being sent to serve in military units in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as military advisers. The payment would be three times what they received at the moment. Their task was to assist the Donbas miners in their spheres of expertise. The paperwork was supposed to be done at the moment, and they were to leave for the destination the same evening.
"Any questions?" the officer asked.
Everyone kept silence. But suddenly three officers - major and two captains from a demining unit - stood up. The major started talking. They were not informed about their 'journey' to Ukraine, he said. He stressed that they do not mind participation in the war, but they just do not want to do it on their own, as volunteers. Lieutenant colonel immediately became furious. His calmness vanished magically. He started yelling wildly, cursing and offending the "escapists." Lieutenant colonel also promised to immediately dismiss them all from the army. Apparently, he just feared that someone else will refuse too.
The sappers went away. There were no other "escapists".
Having suppressed the "rebellion", lieutenant colonel collected all IDs and personal tokens from other soldiers, leaving only the salary cards.
Then, a counterintelligence officer took the floor. Everybody signed a pledge of non-disclosure of military secrets or any other information obtained in the course of combat operations in Ukraine. Everybody signed documents about access to the state secrets.
And then the counterintelligence officer held a briefing saying that the best way to ensure security on Ukrainian territory is to conceal our identity, the Russian citizenship. We were ordered to "merge" ASAP with the "militia", not to trust the locals, not to make friends with the locals, not to wear any insignia of the Russian Armed Forces, and not to tell anyone about belonging to the Armed Forces, neither now nor in the past. 70 officers signed up for "militia" and "voluntarily" left to the city of Donetsk on the same evening. Around 5 a.m. they arrived in Donetsk headquarters of the 1st Army Corps of Russian mercenaries on 23 Postysheva Street.
All got new appointments. Starkov was appointed as a military adviser to the chief of missile and artillery military unit (#08 805 - the 5th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 'DPR' Army Corps). Then Starkov with a group of Russian officers came to the headquarters of the 5th Brigade, which is also located in Donetsk on 1 Kuprina Street. They were met by the Chief of Staff of the Brigade, Colonel Yaroslav Anika, also a Russian serviceman, nicknamed Taran. The commanding officer was a Russian colonel Igor Kremen, nicknamed Kremen. The officers chose fake names and nicknames. Starkov took his wife's lastname Ovsyannikov for his 'DPR' officer ID, while his nickname was Taimen.
The whole group of officers was lodged in the Shakhtar Plaza Hotel. On the next day Russian officers were introduced to the command of the brigade and the work conditions. Everything was pretty sad. The 5th Brigade differed little from a usual armed gang. It was staffed with the Russian motorized infantry brigade and all positions were formally occupied by the mercenaries. But they were totally incompetent and unmotivated. Therefore, all functions were virtually transferred to the new "advisers", who got authority to sign and command. They had to build a new unit of terrorists from the very beginning.
The service was not easy at all. Moreover, members of local "militia" were often not fully adequate and could not understand what military service actually is. A lot of Russian "advisors" and "trainers" conflicted with each other as well. Many of those Russian officers, who volunteered to serve in the Donbas together with Starkov, were selected by the leftover principle. Russian commanders strongly recommended sending not the best, but the worst officers to the Donbas. One "advisor" had to be sent home almost immediately because of alcoholism. Another turned out to be a womanizer. This one ended tragically: he was shot while visiting a girlfriend in Donetsk a local "militia" guy who also had a relationship with the girl. The biggest problem for Starkov is the fact that soldiers who committed administrative offenses - including those related to theft and embezzlement - are being sent to the Donbas. They establish their own rules in their units.
Under such circumstances, the workload placed on effective officers increases dramatically.
Starkov replenished death-bringing loads - he was in charge of uninterrupted supply of all types of ammunition to militants. He tried very hard. The 5th Brigade regularly received munition packages during the "truce" and fired without restrictions.
Starkov liked his salary. He received RUB 47,000 (about $690) per month and was also paid a special "Ukrainian" compensation - RUB 50,000 (about $730) per month.
One can leave Ukraine only by order, viable reason being injuries, serious illness that requires surgery. And death, of course. Every 4-5 months Russian mercenaries are entitled for vacation. Starkov was also able to go home once to see his family. With the money received for terrorism he moved his family in the summer from the Khabarovsk Krai to his native Zuevka. The wife hailing from Ukraine and kids could finally afford decent living on father's salary received for murdering Ukrainians.
Starkov and the command of the 5th Brigade were tasked to organize the unit right on the Russian model. On Aug. 1, the brigade's staff was approved with two mechanized infantry battalions and two armored battalions included. The Russian command is taking efforts to fully staff the brigade and fill all positions, bring it to full strength. At the moment, no such full-fledged units are present in the "DPR", but they are working to solve this problem. When the major was captured, the 5th Brigade was manned by 70 percent, though the quality of the personnel was different.
The brigade receives all the necessary arms by Russia's Armed Forces TOE strictly on request. The organizational structure of a brigade of Russian mercenaries in the Donbas is completely equal to the organization and management of the regular forces of the Russian Federation. The Russian command thus achieves interoperability and simplifies the management and logistics of terrorist occupation forces. This makes it easier to recruit and rotate the military sent to serve in the "DPR."
On July 25, Starkov was supposed to deliver ammunition to Yasne village for the 6th company of the 5th Brigade by order of the brigade commander Colonel Kremen. On the day before, during the cease-fire, the 6th Company was shelling Ukrainian troops all day long. In order to replenish ammunition and do everything in the best possible way, Starkov "conscientiously" took a local militant with him - Iotko Ruslan, born 1967 - the driver of a platoon of material support of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the 5th Brigade.
He was urgently delivering 87,000 5.45-mm machine-gun cartridges, 12 boxes of 7.62-mm cartridges for automatic weapons and 56 boxes of 12.7-mm cartridges for NSV machine-guns, 36 boxes of launch tubes for RPG-7, 5 boxes of grenades for VOG -17 grenade launchers, and 50 boxes of F-1 grenades.
But Starkov did not manage to deliver the burden of death to the terrorists. By mistake his KamAZ drove to Ukrainian positions. When he saw that the vehicle was surrounded by Ukrainians, Starkov immediately shouted that he was a Russian officer.
Vladimir Starkov is in a prison now and will stay there for a long time. Despite all attempts of the Russian side to extradite the major, he is too valuable as a witness who knows everything about the participation of the Russian Army in the Donbas war. Starkov knows about most of the major Russian military arsenals and armories in the Donetsk region. Thus, his testimony can demonstrate the scale of Russian invasion to the world. Major Vladimir Starkov deserves an extreme penalty for his crimes. Life imprisonment will serve a good lesson to other Russian mercenaries, who decided to make a career or a fast buck killing Ukrainians…
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET