Audio: Moscow funding Donbass militia

August 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.”…


  1. I don’t believe a single word that comes out of Ukraine’s SBU or, for that matter, anything that comes out of VoA either, which is a US State Department propaganda arm.

    The US fomented and funded the Ukraine coup that precipitated this civil strife in the first place. None of this pertains to Islam or the jihad, but rather with US corporate interests attempting to put the squeeze on Russia and to gain control over the EU energy market. The Russian-speaking Ukrainian separatists are not terrorists in any way, shape, or form. If anything, the real terror in the Ukraine conflict is being perpetrated by Kiev’s armed forces. Just because Kiev calls its opponents terrorists doesn’t make them so.

    I am deeply disappointed in this blog for accepting the US government and mainstream media point of view so uncritically in the context of Ukraine and Russia. With all the damage that the US government has done in backing the Muslim Brotherhood and all too often aiding and abetting Islamic terror organizations in the Mideast, Africa, and Asia, the US government has zero credibility when it comes to choosing sides in any conflict – or in knowing when to stay out entirely.

    As I pointed out earlier, the Ukraine conflict is not about jihadi terrorism. I’ve been following this issue for awhile and the only connection that I have uncovered is that a few armed riffraff who have participated in the Chechen jihad were also involved with the anti-Russian Kiev coup.

    • I wouldn’t say that it’s about jihad or Islam either. Sometimes I try broadening things out to look at the funding of other groups, such as rebels.

      I think we disagree about the role of Russia in all of this, but I respect your opinion since you’re very knowledgeable about that part of the world.

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