Audio: Moscow funding Donbass militiaAugust 24, 2014
Russia claims its 260-truck convoy into eastern Ukraine was just delivering humanitarian aid, not weapons and supplies for pro-Russian fighters.
This would be a good time for a quick review of who has been financing the separatists from the outset of the conflict. Previous reports include:
- Money for the breakaway movement is passed through four Russian banks including state-owned Sberbank;
- Potentially billions of dollars worth of funding was and continues to be provided by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich;
- Reuters recently reported that weapons for the separatists come from Russia; and
- Pro-Russian forces claim their arms come from Ukrainian weapons depots.
Yet most signs suggest that catspaw elements in eastern Ukraine, such as the “Donbass People’s Militia,” receive funding on orders from the Kremlin. Here’s a report from Buzzfeed last month after the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which includes the possibility of a 5 percent tax on businesses to fund pro-Russian rebels:
Ukraine Says New Tapes Prove Russia Finances Rebels Who Shot Down Malaysian Plane
DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine says it has unearthed new evidence that the separatist militia in the country’s east shot down a Malaysian airliner last week and is funded from Russia, after releasing recordings of rebels discussing strategy and military movements.
Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, posted three recordings to YouTube on Friday that it said were phone taps of the separatists’ political leader, military commander, and the loose cannon rebel it alleges shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 on board. The new tapes could not be independently verified, though the content of some other conversations previously leaked by the SBU — some of which involve the same men — has been proven genuine.
The first tape purports to be a leaked phone conversation between Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen and prime minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” and Alexei Chesnakov, a former senior figure in the Kremlin administration and deputy secretary of President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia. During the conversation, which has been edited, the men discuss financing the revolt against Kiev’s government with cash from Moscow and debate how to rein in the militia’s mercurial Russian commander, Igor Strelkov.
“The military situation sucks. You know and understand that,” says the man alleged to be Borodai. “The DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] looks like a dick with Donetsk as the head and it’s not looking promising.”
The man alleged to be Borodai then discusses difficulties implementing a 5% tax on local business that he says is part of a plan prepared by the Russian presidential administration, and then asks the other man for more money.
“The biggest problem I have now is that I’m running out of dough,” he says. “Out of the 150 I took with me, they’re basically all gone, because I gave 50 to Zakhar, a million hryvnia [$85,000] to Igor [Strelkov], plus all the other expenses.”…