- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Exclusive: Surrendered Ukrainian Officer Opens Up on Conflict Between Marines, Neo-Nazi Fighters

© Photo : YouTube / MVD DPRSurrendered Ukrainian forces being checked for ID by Russian and Donetsk People's Republic Forces. Screengrab of DPR Interior Ministry video.
Surrendered Ukrainian forces being checked for ID by Russian and Donetsk People's Republic Forces. Screengrab of DPR Interior Ministry video. - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.04.2022
Some 1,026 troops from Ukraine’s elite 36th Marine Brigade surrendered to Russian and Donetsk militia forces last week in Mariupol, among them 162 officers. The coastal city has been virtually cleared of Ukrainian forces, with army remnants, Azov Regiment neo-Nazi fighters, and foreign mercenaries blockaded at the city’s Azovstal steelworks.
Neo-Nazi Azov Regiment troops considered themselves superior to other branches of the Ukrainian military, to the point of having violent confrontations with their comrades-in-arms, Major Vladimir Labuzov, an officer from the medical service of the 36th Marine Brigade, said in an interview.

“Azov fighters considered themselves superior, not only to the Marines, but to other troopers of the Ukrainian Army. I don’t know why this is the case, but they constantly glorified themselves, constantly showed that they were better, ‘faster, higher, stronger’ than everyone else, let’s put it that way”, Labuzov, who surrendered to Russian and Donetsk forces alongside over 1,000 other Ukrainian troops last week, said. “It’s possible that this is tied to their ultranationalist ideology”, the officer suggested.

Labuzov recalled an incident in 2017 in which four marines had to be given urgent medical assistance after a conflict with Azov fighters in Mariupol, with high command seeking to cover up evidence of such conflicts.
“They didn’t raise a fuss, and troops were simply told that they were ‘fools for getting into a conflict with them’, and that’s it”. Command didn’t seem to want interested parties, including the military police, getting involved with their investigations, the officer said.
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Labuzov also provided details on how he and his fellow soldiers were trained in the use of Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles provided by the US and the UK.
“There were Javelins and NLAWs. They arrived in 2022 for sure, probably in January…It was interesting. The NLAW is an interesting and simple device. Of course it was interesting… On the mock-up they showed it to us – place here, press here, hold here, something like that took place. This happened at some point in January. But to go to the training ground and to try shooting one – that didn’t happen”, he said.
The United States began delivering Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine in 2017. UK authorities only formally announced the delivery of NLAWs to Kiev in January. However, documents found at an abandoned Ukrainian military position seized by Russian forces revealed that British instructors have been training Ukrainian forces on their use since at least 2018.
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Vanishing Commanders
Labuzov said he and his comrades made the decision to surrender in Mariupol after their commanders “disappeared”.
“They said they had decided to attempt a breakthrough… They got into an armoured personnel carrier and left. At some point we realised that we did not have a brigade commander, a head of staff, a deputy brigade commander… These [roles] are the three pillars upon which the exercise of command is based. At that point we gathered in a narrow circle of officers and began thinking about what to do next. The only sensible and logical option in this situation was to surrender”, he said.

Labuzov said that somewhere around 10 March, high command ordered forces in Mariupol to “hold on”, promising repeatedly to break through a corridor by which it would be possible to replenish supplies and medicines and to evacuate the injured. “And from 10 March, even 2-3 days, they would constantly tell us ‘soon-soon-soon’”, he said.

Classified us army manuals found at Azov neo-Nazis' base near Mariupol - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.04.2022
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The 36thMarine Brigade lost about 130 troops killed and at least 300 seriously injured, according to the medical officer’s calculations. “These are the troops I know about. There are also those missing in action that I don’t know about yet”, he said, noting that these number at least 100 people.
Labuzov also indicated that high command seemed unconcerned about the scale of losses which he would regularly report. He recalled that he would tell them “guys, we have 12 wounded and 9 dead, and this is only for today. And if we take the week as a whole… They were very disinterested in attempts to evacuate the heavily wounded. Very disinterested”, he said.
1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th Marine Brigade surrendered on 13 April. On Thursday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that some 2,000 fighters from nationalist formations were trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks. On Friday, the Russian president told European Council President Charles Michel that Kiev was deliberately preventing the besieged Ukrainian forces at Azovstal from surrendering.
“All servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as militants of the national battalions and foreign mercenaries, who lay down their arms, are guaranteed life, decent treatment in accordance with international law and provision of qualified medical care. But the Kiev regime does not allow this opportunity to be seized”, the Kremlin said in a press statement.
Dutch independent journalist Sonja van den Ende in Volnovakha  - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.04.2022
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