By Margarita Menshikova, translated by John Helmer, Moscow
On the day before Good Friday (Orthodox), Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported at the Kremlin to President Vladimir Putin that at Mariupol, inside the Azovstal steel works, about two thousand troops remain underground, including foreigners. Putin issued the following order: “There is no need to penetrate these catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.”
Four days earlier on April 17, the Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov told the press that “up to four hundred foreign mercenaries were trapped [at Azovstal]… Most of them are citizens of European countries, as well as Canada. We have already reported earlier that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol are conducted in six foreign languages”
Today, an unusually detailed report by the Moscow internet broadcaster Tsargrad was published to signal the strategic significance and political value of the NATO officers in their command bunker under Azovstal.
Read the original report by Margarita Menshikova here. A verbatim translation follows between opening and closing quotes, with excerpts from the identified sources in italics. The illustrations, captions, links, and sources have been added to amplify the original text.
“Soon after the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, Mariupol turned out to be the centre of attention — and more specifically, the Azovstal plant where a group of neo-Nazis based themselves. It is in the underground catacombs of the plant that the notorious Azov regiment is hiding, which is, in fact, a real gang. However, everything suggests that the Ukrainian militants are not hiding underground alone — there may be foreign mercenaries there with them, and not necessarily ordinary ones. There are also public versions that high-ranking NATO officers who were instructors and advisers of the Ukrainian Nazis have been trapped at Azovstal.
Since the end of March-beginning of April, information about a large group of officers from NATO member countries stuck in Mariupol began to spread in the Russian segment of Telegram and in the press. According to well-informed insiders, it was fears for their fate which forced French President Emmanuel Macron to telephone the Kremlin [on March 29], and the Turkish leadership to offer its ‘help’ in the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.
These rumours arose for a reason, of course. The foundation for them, at least, was given by the fact that is no secret to anyone — even before the special operation, foreign military specialists openly walked about in the open places of the Nezalezhnaya [literally Kiev’s Independence Square, the Maidan. This term is figuratively used in Russian to refer to Kiev-controlled Ukrainian territory]. Why, an entire foreign legion was formed in Ukraine. As it is easy to guess from this name, it was not the indigenous people who served there at all. It would be strange to believe that after the start of Russia’s special operation, the foreigners will just jump up and get out of the Ukraine, where they have diligently contributed to the cultivation of Russophobia and neo-Nazism for many years.
Military correspondent Semyon Pegov, while in Mariupol, noted in his Telegram [War Gonzo] channel:
‘[I’m in the port of Mariupol right here. Almost whole. It is there that the Azov militants and the foreign military who are with them are drawn away. No one touches the civilian infrastructure and surrounding buildings so long as enemy firing points are not installed there. Please remember this picture. I’m expecting further developments — now the neo-Nazis, after retreating from other city blocks, will take up positions in houses adjacent to the port (hiding behind people locked in them), will put mortars and surviving materiel on the piers and will start operating in all directions (including those neighbourhoods with civilians from which they just escaped), and then the whole world will scream that we are wiping cities off the face of the earth. I repeat once again: the actions of the Azov [territorial battalion] are a well-coordinated special operation by foreign advisers. And it is carried out according to a clear scheme. Which we have just described.’
So, soon after rumours started circulating, literally excited by the public, that foreigners together with the Azov militants had taken refuge in the dungeons of Azovstal (ironically, it was the plant built by the forces of the USSR, so hated by Ukrainian radicals, that eventually turned out to be their last stronghold).
Soon, scattered data flashed out of the internet into the media, while picking up a variety of details. For example, this version was broadcast: allegedly, the militants forcibly captured a group of senior French military intelligence officers in Mariupol. The purpose of capturing such respected allies was to hide behind them as a human shield. And on March 30, employees of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) allegedly arrived in Mariupol from Stuttgart. The Germans wanted to free their colleagues from an awkward situation and for this purpose brought flash drives with bitcoins. However, the brave Ukrainian National guardsmen, and part-time neo-Nazis, sadists and drug addicts, took these decent people hostage with their customary technique. It was also reported that officers from Great Britain and neutral Sweden are in the hands of the Azov.
If there is even a shred of truth in these assumptions, it will be a very ironic coincidence. After all, many military experts agree that it was the foreign instructors who taught the Ukrainians to use the human shield in military conditions, that is, cynically hide behind civilians.
Advisor to the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, political scientist Igor Kimakovsky has already said that information about the presence of foreign instructors and specialists, including intelligence officers, on the territory of Azovstal, is confirmed.
‘Since 2014, an entire intelligence network has been formed in the Berdyansk—Mariupol agglomeration; these included instructors who advised employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). I personally saw one of the CIA officers in Mariupol when I was on the premises of the Mariupol SBU building, where investigative actions were carried out against me. There were, so far as I know, representatives of German, French, British and American intelligence services. This is what I know from my own sources… The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) and the territorial battalions used residential buildings and social facilities as fortified areas. Just yesterday I was in Mariupol, and residents told me that mortars, snipers, and target spotters were placed on residential buildings. This is at the intersection of Shevchenko Boulevard and Metallurgov Avenue — the so-called first line of defence. They evicted people from the upper floors, put weapons there, shot them, called fire on themselves, then mined the floors on which they had placed the weapons, and left. This is just one of the operational schemes that were worked out with the help of instructors of the western special services’ — Kimakovsky said.
Igor Kimakovsky broadcasting from Mariupol in March. For background on Kimakovsky, including his imprisonment by the SBU and subsequent release in a prisoner exchange, read this.
The secret of the underground bunkers of Azovstal is not yet opening up. It still excites the minds of both ordinary people and military specialists. However, there is no doubt that any data now, during the influx of fakes, should be treated with extreme caution. An excellent example of this would be the story of the ‘capture’ of American Lieutenant-General Roger L. Cloutier Jr., who was engaged in training militants of the Azov regiment banned in Russia.
He was allegedly captured on the territory of Mariupol along with a number of other foreign mercenaries, and [it was claimed] the Russian side intended for the time being not to announce the capture of such a ‘large fish’ in its nets, in order to use the prisoner as a major trump card in due course. However, soon Cloutier Jr. began to refute the data about his capture. ‘The rumours are false,’ he declared on the LinkedIn social network. Similar information was published by the NATO spokesman Major Brian Andris. ‘Cloutier currently heads the NATO Allied Ground Command in Izmir, Turkey, and has not been in Ukraine since July 2021’ — he wrote about Cloutier Jr., without failing to add that – NATO claims — ‘not a single NATO soldier or commander is stationed in this country [Ukraine]’.
But it is quite difficult to believe these assurances, because those who used to call themselves our ‘western partners’, and only recently finally let slip their masks, have been paying very close attention to Mariupol and Azovstal. You can’t help but think that something serious is really hidden behind this interest.
A member of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Alexander Losev (right), in an interview with a correspondent of Tsargrad, recalled that, in his opinion, Ukraine, being under the external control of the United States, also transferred control of its troops (including the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the territorial battalions banned in Russia).
‘That is why there are instructors from NATO countries and western countries, even non-NATO countries, who carry out the main control of Ukrainian troops. Well, as for the Azovstal plant, then indeed any industrial zone in guerrilla warfare is such a fortress… It seems to me that it is not plastered only because civilians may be held hostage there. Because you can plaster it with anything. Detonating ammunition, the so-called ‘bunker busters’, appeared, and concrete-piercing ammunition, and everything else. Also, the heavy flamethrower system. But the fact is that civilians of Mariupol may be held hostage there’ — Losev believes.
As already mentioned, the very fact of the presence of foreigners in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is certain. Our military regularly reports that foreign mercenaries who came to the Ukrainian territory to kill Russians themselves are literally dying in bunches. For example, at the end of March, the Russian air forces destroyed more than a hundred foreign mercenaries based in the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine with one strike. Earlier, we officially warned: the mercenaries will not have the status of prisoners of war — it’s better to run.
On April 17, the official spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said: ‘In total since the beginning of the special military operation, the Kiev regime has attracted 6,824 foreign mercenaries from 63 countries to Ukraine.” With reference to the testimony of the soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who surrendered, Konashenkov also announced that up to 400 foreign mercenaries were trapped on the territory of Azovstal as part of the Ukrainian military group. Most of them are citizens of European countries, as well as Canada. We have already reported earlier that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol are conducted in six foreign languages. In case of further resistance, all of them will be destroyed’, said the official spokesman of the defense department.
Source: Russian Ministry of Defence morning briefing by Maj-Gen Konashenkov, April 17, 2022. The reference to the Canadians among the foreigners in the Azovstal bunker occurs at Min 3:04.
Reporter David Pugliese is a military specialist in Ottawa and one of the only mainstream journalists in Canada to report honestly. Canadian military sources believe that the removal of Lieutenant-General Trevor Cadieu (pictured above) from succession to the Army command, and then to the Ukraine, has been orchestrated to conceal more than the sexual offences which have been leaked to the press. The sources speculate that Cadieu’s disappearance at Azovstal would be preferable to Ottawa than to exchange him alive.
By the way, two British citizens, Aiden Aislin and Sean Pinner, were recently captured in the Ukraine. These citizens came to Ukraine as a kind of safari in order to ‘shoot at Russians’, which they actively boasted about on their pages in social networks. But in the end, the would-be hunters themselves found themselves in the role of prey. In captivity, there is no trace of their ostentatious bravado — now, with downcast eyes, they mumble that they were supposedly some kind of tourists. They are asking for their homeland.
January 2022 -- Sean Pinner (left) and Aiden Aislin (right) In this piece broadcast in London by the Murdoch media, Aislin called himself “Johnny Wood”. Pinner admitted to being based in Mariupol and to have married a Ukrainian there.
April 2022: Left, Sean Pinner after surrendering to Russian forces in Mariupol. Admitting he had served in the British Royal Anglian Regiment, he claimed “he doesn’t want war and wants to go home”. Right, Aiden Aislin, reported by the Murdoch media now as saying he had been in Mariupol but “didn’t do any fighting.”
Every day the mystery of Azovstal is getting closer to disclosure. The fact that the plant will sooner or later be taken by our forces is beyond doubt, despite all the efforts of Ukrainian and foreign figures.
Military expert and chief of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis Alexander Mikhailov, in a conversation with Tsargrad, expressed confidence that, despite the pervasiveness of fake information, it is very likely that foreign fighters may be found in the depths of Azovstal.
‘Representatives of several NATO states were present in the east of Ukraine in large numbers, at least before the start of the special operation — this is obvious, these are the facts. Moreover, they acted as instructors, coordinators, in fact, supervisors of orders to the military leadership. It is no secret that the security forces of Ukraine are controlled directly by specialists of the British and American special services. Therefore, I think that representatives of these divisions could be there for this very reason. That is, they were originally there. They have not been transferred since the beginning of the operation; they have been there since the autumn, perhaps. And maybe even earlier on a rotational basis. And the [Azovstal] location in which everyone has taken refuge now — well, firstly, it is very difficult for military reasons to capture it; it is really a very fortified object from a fortification point of view. And secondly, I think they [Russians] are dragging their feet as much as possible. Because there is probably a shadow negotiation process going on, which we do not see in the open sources. But it is always being conducted, there are always diplomatic channels. Therefore, perhaps they [the foreigners] hope that they will somehow be pulled out of there’ — the expert argues.
For Russia, such ‘cadres’ can be very valuable, and certainly if they can be taken alive. After all, even with ordinary mercenaries like Aislin and Pinner, our side managed to play the right combination nicely: when the Ukrainian side announced that it demanded in exchange the captured deputy of the Rada Viktor Medvedchuk for neo-Nazis captured in Mariupol, Moscow made an unexpected move — a video appeared of the two British militant prisoners of war from Mariupol, who tearfully begged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exchange them for the same Medvedchuk.
According to blogger and journalist Anatoly Shariy, now British citizens can put pressure on Prime Minister Johnson to influence the decision to exchange a citizen of Ukraine for the British. Showing captured assassins from Britain could cause a political scandal in the UK [Shariy says] and increase the pressure on Johnson who is already in a precarious position himself. Shariy is sure that the SBU and the Zelensky regime have driven themselves into a corner by offering the politician Medvedchuk in exchange:
‘I told you they were stupid. Now they kicking the ball into their own goal’, the blogger has written. But how many such trump cards can there be after Azovstal falls?”