MP, head of the "Azov" regiment, 36-year-old Andriy Biletsky comes to give an interview accompanied by two men. He appointed the meeting in the metropolitan cocktail bar "Silver Spoons" on Baseyna Street. Two waiters at the entrance recognize Biletsky and smile. There are lots of flowers in the bar. One plant covered the entire wall. A black candlestick with white candles is placed all along the windowsill. We order three bottles of still water. Companions of Biletsky sit a few tables back. They drink coffee.
"Now I spend half of the time in Kyiv," says Andriy. "The interests of the "Azov" regiment require it. This is the issue of equipment, weapons, and outfit. For the past weeks it got worse due to the attack on the volunteer units. It affected "AZOV," too," he added.
- How and who does attack?
- Now that's quite a coordinated public position. In particular, by the initiative of the General Staff. And starting with the withdrawal of the volunteers from the front line in accordance with the secret agreements in Minsk. We received an order to withdraw the rear bases of the "Azov" regiment's unit which since May 5 of the last year has been continuously on the front line, without rotation. To retreat in the Zaporizhzhya region and to stay in a field in tents. Start digging with shovels the third line of defense as during the First World War. But we are not engineers. We have not a single tractor or construction equipment on our balance sheet.
- What is the purpose?
- To get people deeply offended morally. They hope that after this they will either violate the order, or start writing en masse the applications for dismissal. Above all, Russia is dissatisfied with existence of these battalions. Partially they also cause concern in the West. Under pressure from these two forces they twist Poroshenko's arm during the negotiations. Win the whims of Moscow and the West instead of the state interests.
There is absolute disbelief in the possibility of victory in our government. Thet rely on the help of the Western forces. But not a single war has ever been won by somebody else.
- You harshly criticize the policies of the West.
- But what does the West do? All their diplomatic policy consists in pressure, not so much on Russia as on us. The most outrageous example is Debaltseve. February 14 we signed the Minsk agreements-2 and added a map in which were determined our positions. The next day began the offensive, was made an attempt to create a trap, and we lost a huge amount of equipment and soldiers in wounded and killed. We departed from Debaltsevo, and the West required us to accept already these positions.
- And now we retreated from the village of Shyrokyne near Mariupol, as it was agreed on July 24.
- This is despite the fact that Shyrokyne was a nightmare for the enemy. The separatists suffered huge losses there. We controlled the strategic heights.
- "Azov" and "Donbas" are withdrawn from there and replaced by the marines. How will this affect the control of territory?
- Marines with whom we fought in Granitne are combat-ready enough. But they are poorly equipped. And where are they now? Are they in the old positions of "Azov" or 15 kilometers away from that point, in accordance with the demilitarized zone, and in fact do not control Shyrokyne? Nodody knows.
- Has any success been achieved in building up the army for the past year?
- Nothing. We did not even bother to use the most valuable resource that has appeared. This is combat experience of people. We demobilized 80,000 people - two-thirds of those with combat experience. And once again we find ourselves with the army built from a scratch. The guys who now go to the front have zero combat experience. A year later we will again recruit the new people who will get some bumps and bruises along the way through mutilation and deaths, won't we?
- How should the army look like?
- It should be mixed. The first level is the professional army personnel held in constant combat readiness. It shall consist exclusively of the officers and sergeants with combat experience. The number is 40-50 thousand. This is the backbone of the armed power of Ukraine. The second level shoud be similar to a Swiss or Finnish army. This is the territorial defense which is formed by the call-up for 9-12 months. It should constitute the reserve for a professional army - about 200 thousand people.
- How much time do require such reforms?
- A year.
Biletsky's mobile phone starts riging. He turns to his two companions and says:
- Tell Hors that we meet at 18.30 at the destination.
"Now the volume of hostilities significantly reduced," he continues. "But it says nothing. Russia will not abandon the strategic plans for Ukraine, anyway."
- What is the purpose of Putin now?
- In one form or another it's all about liquidation of Ukrainian statehood. The geopolitical goal is to regain control over Eastern Europe.
- How will influence the situation the election to local authorities on October 25?
- Openly anti-Ukrainian forces will gain momentum. "Opposition Block" in the remains of the Donetsk region will take 70 percent. Then it will be used by the West, Russia and the authorities themselves that will say as follows: there are people like that, and we should serach for a compromise. All this will happen at the expense of Ukraine. All this time nobody took care of the people in the Donbas, in the eastern regions. Therefore, their sympathies are partially on the side of the "Opposition Block".
- What did happen with the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) officers who took an active part in destruction of Maidan, kidnapping and killings of the activists and surrendering Crimea and Donbas?
- In the Kharkiv region they were promoted. Now their activities are directed against "Right Sector" and the volunteer units. However, the financial schemes of the Party of Regions in the Kharkiv region still exist. They forward the money to Russia that are used for funding the separatist groups. All of this is "covered" by the SBU.
- President insists on a special status for the Donbas. What are the dangers?
- It will give an opportunity to call the criminals not the separatists, but the deputies. And the killers - not the terrorists, but "police," as they are already called now by General Olexandr Rozmaznin, deputy of Muzhenko. They killed five thousand of our soldiers. And now we'll be patrolling the streets along with them.
- Rozmaznin said that on the border with Ukraine were situated 52 thousand of Russian troops. Is there a probability of a full-scale offensive?
- Russia has a huge, albeit I wouldn't say that a battle-worthy army. It must be constantly involved in military action to keep them fit enough. The large-scale attack could begin at any time.