Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the DNR Vostok Battalion, reported in an interview with “Dialog Channel” that his battalion suffered 200 dead and 300 wounded, during the course of 2016. To put that into perspective, Julian Röpcke, who tallies the official Ukrainian military casualty figures, states that in 2016, the Ukrainian army suffered 225 dead and 1342 wounded.
Khodakovsky, a former SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) Alpha unit commander, who was DNR “Deputy Prime Minister” from May to July 2014, and has been DNR “Security Minister” since May 2014, has become famous for exhibiting candor, eloquence, and intellect that is typically absent from other figureheads of Russia’s proxy DNR/LNR militant groups. The following is a brief list of his more attention-grabbing statements:
- Khodakovsky referred to himself as a “terrorist,” presumably by virtue of being affiliated with the DNR . This supports the Ukrainian government nomenclature of calling the war in Eastern Ukraine an “Anti-Terrorist Operation.”
- In July of 2014, about a week after the MH17 tragedy, Khodakovsky admitted that Russia’s proxy forces in Eastern Ukraine had a BUK anti-aircraft system, of the type that was used to shoot down the MH17 airliner, stating, “I think they sent [the BUK] back. Because I found out about it at exactly the moment that I found out that this tragedy had taken place. They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence.” He blamed Ukraine for “provoking” the DNR/Russia side for using the BUK, in a situation which put civilian aircraft at risk, all but acknowledging Russia and its proxy groups’ culpability.
- Khodakovsky contradicted the Orwellian Russian propaganda that Ukraine is fascist state. He stated that the DNR are well aware that the “fascist” propaganda is false. Although Khodakovsky is an unabashed Russian imperialist, in the interview where he disavowed the propaganda about fascism, he claimed to be an opponent of nationalism. He also stated, “we don’t perceive Ukraine to be our enemy.”
- In September 2015, Khodakovsky claimed that Russia provides 70% of the DNR budget, and makes the decisions about high-level DNR appointments.
- In November of 2016, Khodakovsky admitted that the DNR wants the Minsk II peace process to fail, because peace would not be in the DNR’s best interest .
- In November 2016, Khodavsky admitted that the Vostok battalion, and possibly other battalions, position their artillery near residential quarters, out of contingency. This echoes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s infamous March 2014 statement that Russians will be “standing behind, not in front” of women and children, when they invade Ukraine “for the defense of Ukraine’s citizens.”
Khodakovsky (00:24:18) states:
We have officially confirmed, in 2016, 200 dead and around 300 wounded. That’s about 70% of the number of casualties that we suffered in the period of the year 2014-2015. 2016, strange as it seems, is the year of an incomprehensible truce, which brought Vostok such casualties.
Khodakovsky’s outspokenness and his tendency to contradict Kremlin propaganda, have led many observers to speculate whether he’d be the next DNR/LNR figurehead to meet an untimely demise.