The Motorola Assassination and the Future of Donbass.

Arsen Pavlov aka Motorola.
Motorola participates in the Novorussia victory parade in 2015.
Motorola in the Novorussian victory parade in Donetsk, 2015.

October 28th, 2016.

The Motorola Assassination.

On October 16th, legendary Donbass militia commander Motorola (born Arsen Pavlov) was killed by an explosion in Donetsk. A device was hidden in the elevator of the building in which Motorola lived with his wife and child, and detonated as Motorola returned home, killing both he and his bodyguard.

He had survived at least two previous assassination attempts, the most recent being an apparent botched bomb plot in August.

Motorola’s life before the Donbass war is low on detail. He was born in 1983 and raised in Rostov, western Russia, he was a Marine in the Russian military, fought in the second Chechnya war early 2000s before coming to prominence  during the Donbass war.

Motorola was a leader of the pro-Russian militia groups that have been fighting the Ukraine government forces since 2014 when a Western engineered colour revolution swept the elected Ukraine government from power and replaced them with ultra-nationalists and IMF flunkies.

Motorola was the commander of the Sparta battalion, who operate as a semi-special forces grouping within the DPR militia, he was involved in many of the most significant battles fought by the militia, playing a key role in the successful Second Battle for Donetsk Airport among many others.

Motorola engaged in numerous noteworthy acts of courage, exposing himself to close range tank fire, and generally leading from the very front of the front, giving his men confidence by the sheer force of his will and personality.

As a professionally trained soldier, Motorola was not only a fighter, he also operated training camps for less experienced fighters where they were taught infantry tactics.

Who Murdered Motorola?

The sad truth is that such is the state of Governance in the Donbass republics that there may never be any real investigation into this murder.

The attacker managed to sneak into the lift, plant the device, which could be done in ten seconds, and then  monitor the traffic into the lift in order to press the button at the correct moment.

My initial assumption that the Ukraine and their allies must have murdered Motorola did not survive the reading of a typically thoughtful analysis from the Saker.

The Murder of Motorola – questions which must be answered | The Vineyard of the Saker

Having had a rethink, this is the picture that has emerged of the potential suspects.


The operation is widely regarded as being beyond the level of professionalism of the Ukraine security services, and while it remains possible that they were behind this it seems at the less likely end of the hypotheses on offer.

Western Intelligence.

At face value it also seems highly unlikely that the operation would be directed by a Western agency as the death of Motorola does not change the overall situation to the benefit of the West to the degree worthy of the risk or resources the operation required.


The idea that Russia was involved can also be all but discounted. Motorola was an employee of Russia, if Russia thought he was dong a bad job, they would simply send him home. They had no motivation to waste time sneaking around planting bombs, he was their man, he obeyed orders, whatever they wanted to do to him, they would simply summon him.


The details of the attack mean it was either a very high-tech operation or it was done by someone very close to home. In recent years, almost all the major military and political and military leaders of the Donbass republics have been targeted for assassination, including the two putative heads of state in the respective republics, Alexander Zakharchenko of Donetsk and Igor Plotnitsky of Luhansk.

Infighting is part of the story and the Motorola killing fits into a broader pattern of events in the self-declared republics, with a partial breakdown of law and order and the absence of a real system of justice.

The best explanation for Motorola’s death, without having access to hard facts, would be some type of inside attack directed from within as part of some rivalry or betrayal.

The Impact.

The loss of Motorola is an immense psychological and symbolic blow to the beleaguered self-declared republics but it will not change the fundamentals of the situation in east Ukraine.

In the eastern Ukraine, Russia created a military and political force able to veto any attempt to include the Ukraine in NATO ans once that goal was achieved the Russian priority changed to mending political ties with Europe, hoping to end the EU sanctions.

Donbass battalion commaders Givi and Motoriala, a classic odd couple but also a very formidable combination as seen in the second battle of Donetsk airport and many other battles.Givi, born Mikhail Tolstykh has sworn to avenge the loss of Motorola many times over. It is likely however that Russian political imperatives will make this impossible.
Donbass battalion commanders Givi and Motoriala.
Donbass battalion commanders Givi and Motoriala.


The New Cold War.

In order to understand why this war is happening, we must look back at the post Cold war period.

At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union unilaterally dismantled itself, ended the European empire built on the back of the victory over the Nazi’s, abandoned communism and ended the reason for NATO’s existence, the Warsaw pact alliance grouping.

Rather than engage in a constructive reconciliation process, the West simply viewed Russia as a weakened enemy, to be exploited and attacked.

This was inexplicable because the official reasons for the conflict between the West and Russia, communism and the Soviet empire, were gone.

At the behest of Neo-liberal ideologues the assets of the Russian state were sold off at a tiny fraction of their value and later, foreign jihadists were inserted into Chechnya in order to start the Chechen war in the 1990s.

Shamil Basayev and Ibn Khattab, the CIA's men in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s.
Ibn Khattab (l) and Shamil Basayev(r), two of the CIA’s men in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s.

Key leaders of the Chechen insurgency were trained at the same training camps the CIA and the Pakistani ISI had earlier trained the Afghan mujaheddin.

As Michel Chossudovsky writes “the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants (Khattab included) to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf,” (Source)

Shamil Basayev was later responsible for operations that led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including the Moscow theatre siege and the Beslan massacre.

Wayne Madsen reported that the NSA “went dark” over the North Caucuses at the time of the Beslan attack. The implication is clear.

Basayev, along with Saudi jihadist Ibn Khattab,  led insurgent attacks on the provinces bordering Chechnya in 1998, attacking both Dagestan and Ingushetia, a ridiculous provocation designed to end the relatively peaceful informal independence of Chechnya.

In 1998, along with Shamil Basayev, Khattab created the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB) group (also known as the Islamic Peacekeeping Army). In August–September 1999, they led the IIPB’s incursions into Dagestan, which resulted in the deaths of at least several hundred people and effectively started the Second Chechen War.” (Source)

Russia’s Gradual Encirclement by NATO.

On the external front, a dozen former Warsaw pact nations were included in an eastward expanding NATO, breaking numerous assurances made to Russia at the time of the German reintegration.

The broken deal is a secondary issue, the elephant in the room is why does NATO even exist post Warsaw pact?  And if the purpose of the expansion was not to encircle Russia then what was it?

Breaking Point.

The leadership of the West continued the Cold War unilaterally and for a very long time they met very little resistance, (the 2008 war against Georgia being a major exception) until they staged the colour revolution in Ukraine at the start of 2014.

The Coup.

The Ukraine had an elected government, all the politicians on all sides were corrupt. Protests against the government began after the President chose not to pursue closer economic ties with Europe. After several months the protests grew extremely violent and caused an equally violent response from the security forces.

At this point, Russia made a compromise deal for the President to stand aside and hold early elections but the West continued with the putsch and in  late February during the latter stages of the Sochi Winter Olympics the coup succeeded and the President of the Ukraine fled. This was the breaking point for Russia.


Russia could not risk losing the Sevastopol naval base to a hostile NATO takeover of the Ukraine, sOnce the Olympics were finished, Russia took dramatic action, a co-ordinated military political operation saw the Ukraine military evicted from the Crimea with very little violence and soon after that the people of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and to join the Russian Federation.

Russia was able to achieve these things at very little cost and the reason for this was despite the fact that the Russian actions were driven by the need to retain Sevastopol, the people of Crimea were genuinely horrified by the coup government, largely regarded themselves as Russians all along and were relieved to leave a dysfunctional in the best of times Ukraine.

The operation was a huge success and Crimea is well in the process of being integrated into Russia, the operation succeeded because the goals of the Russia government broadly matched the goals of the people of Crimea.

It was one of the most stunning events in recent history, the West was powerless to act and the subject is so painful that it still reduces the minions of the West to quivering rage whenever it is raised.

The Donbass.

The core support for the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych was in the east of the Ukraine and the coup government decision to banish Russian as a language of the Ukraine, along with the ultra-nationalist elements in the government saw a rebellion begin in the east in the months following the coup.

By the middle of 2014, militia groups had formed in the eastern regions, the Ukraine armed forces tried to enter the east and evict these groups from their positions and a war broke out between them for control of east Ukraine.

At some point Russia decided to lend military and logistical support to the insurgents and by August 2014 the militia were bolstered by the presence of covertly inserted Russian soldiers, the Ukraine attempts to seize the eastern areas largely failed and following a terrible defeat for the Ukraine forces in the Battle of Ilovaisk the first Minsk agreement was signed in early September 2014.

The Donbass war in many ways resembles the West’s “dirty war” operations all over the world, from Syria to El Salvador and Guatemala, the core tactic is the same, an enemy is attacked using cut-outs in a proxy war.

Minsk 2.

Following Minsk the people of the Donbass are trapped in a netherworld with no prospect of escape. The Ukraine state regards them as foreigners, enemies, people to be shelled as punishment for their disloyalty.

The Donbass militias are also trapped, they cannot win the war, they cannot lose the war, instead they must simply fight to keep their pocket of territory and remain the Russian bargaining chip in the Ukraine.

The people were given false hope that Russia would either help them achieve independence or absorb them as it had Crimea. Neither option was ever part of the plan so the war, despite the tactical victories and the courage and skill of the fighters, was a trick played on the participants.

The Donbass militias and the people are a pawn that are there to be able to give Russia the ability to veto any attempt to include the Ukraine in NATO as well as act as an armed buffer on Russia’s western border.

That is why they can never be allowed to lose, that is why they are not supposed to win independence or to join Russia, and that is why while the Russia actions in Crimea can be seen to have improved the lives of the Crimeans the same cannot be said of the Donbass.

What Russia has done to these people, whilst being perfectly rational and probably in the Russian interest, was low and cynical in many ways. 

For the Ukraine state, the Donbass war has been an immense disaster and humiliation. Once the border posts between east Ukraine and Russia fell, the war was effectively over with no possibility of a victory as Russia now had the ability to provide sufficient assistance at any time in order to protect the Donbass pocket.

The Agreement.

The Minsk 2 agreement, reached in February 2015, is the concrete representation fo Russia’s decision to walk away from the Donbass war. The agreement is highly favorable to the Ukrainian side, including for example the condition that the Donbass militia groups go into exile upon disbandment.

This commentary from Mikhail Belyayev provides a good summary of the one sided nature of the deal that Russia forced upon the Donbass republics.

Minsk: A Betrayal and Tragedy for Donbass

The publicized text of the ceasefire agreement that was signed in Minsk is what this very real betrayal looks like. The betrayal of everything that the Novorossiya Militiamen fought and died for. The betrayal of Novorossiya itself, because, based on the text of this agreement, there is no place envisioned for Novorossiya, nor for the Militia and nor even for any “special status” for the People’s Republics.

All that this so-called ceasefire agreement provides for is a temporary status of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions. Even that is conditional on the complete elimination of the Militia and the release of all Ukrainian prisoners of war; moreover, the Militiamen are obliged not only to lay down arms, but also to leave the territory of Ukraine. In return, Ukraine promises amnesty to the parties to the conflict, a national dialogue, and certain measures aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in the Donbass. The LPR and the DPR are not even mentioned in the text of the agreement, and their representatives have signed it without any titles or ranks.

Independence and statehood? Novorossiya? A temporary special status in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions—here is all you have of independent Novorossiya. Here is all your freedom and sovereignty. You can write out these words a thousand times, print them on paper, and then shove them deep down your throat. In any event, death by strangulation is better than death through shame. Ukraine does not even intend to give autonomy to the People’s Republics. She did not even deign to mention these very Republics in the agreement. Temporary self-government in certain areas—that is the extent of Ukrainian generosity for the rebellious Donbass.

The Militiamen? According to this agreement they are now exiles and must leave the Donbass. Forever. Yes, the merciful Ukrainian side undertakes to pardon and not to criminally prosecute them. But only after they lay down arms and remove themselves from the territory of Ukraine. After all, according the agreement, all the unlawful military formations (meaning the Militia) must immediately be withdrawn beyond the boundaries of Ukraine.”

( Source)

The commentary finishes with an unanswered question “it remains a mystery as to how the representatives of Novorossiya could have signed this masterpiece of Ukrainian arrogance and conceit.”

The answer is obvious: Russia told them to sign it and they completely depend on Russia for their existence so had no choice but to sign.

In the 20 or so months since the Minsk 2 agreement was made, a low intensity wear has continued, the Ukraine have the upper hand but the achievements are slight. Meanwhile,  Russia is only providing the absolute bare minimum of military assistance to the militia groups.

It has been a very disappointing time for the people of the Donbass as it sinks in that Russia will never accept the eastern republics into Russia, nor will the Ukrainians implement the Minsk agreement.

Discontent in Donbass | crimesofempire

The Ukraine may well be continuing the war at this time simply in order to maintain the flow of US military assistance. Given the immense corruption of the Ukraine government and the futility of what they are doing, this may be the best explanation for their actions.

The ongoing fighting only deepens the psychological chasm between the people of the Donbass and the Ukraine state.

If the Ukraine wants to retain the Donbass in any meaningful sense the Ukraine must take steps to implement Minsk, and begin the slow process of the physical and political reintegration.


Over the long-term, the West is undoubtedly the chief party in the creation of the Ukraine disaster. Treating Russia as an enemy for a quarter of a century at the end of the Cold war was an act of madness, albeit one that is now paying off as Russia’s responses to Western aggression enable the NATO parasites to resuscitate their original raison d’etre- the threat of Russia!

NATO and all the other US instruments deserve execration but the cynicism of Russia’s action regarding the eastern Ukraine cannot be overlooked. It would do well for the Syrian Government and their allies to understand that Russia is not anyone’s benefactor, it acts in the Russian interest and in the Russian interest alone.

Russia is equally capable of walking away from Syria when it is no longer in their interest and Syria and their allies should always have contingency plans that consider this possibility.

For the people of the Donbass the world might as well have frozen over, they are trapped between the geopolitical aims of the West and Russia, their lives are of apparent little concern to either party and the future is bleak.

For as long as the Second Cold war persists they will be trapped, sandwiched between the competing geopolitical goals of Russia and the West.

[eng subs] Motorola guides a tour through “Sparta’s” museum [eng subs]

[eng subs] “Main fight of the Republic: 300 Steel riflemen” by Gennadiy Dubovov

18+ Donetsk Airport: Guided Tour with Motorola (English Subtitles) 18+ Donetsk Airport: Guided Tour with Motorola (English Subtitles)

“You will pay in blood for Motorola” – Givi

Assassination of Motorola: the last straw? Chilling message

8 thoughts on “The Motorola Assassination and the Future of Donbass.

  1. Its hard for me to get too interested in this event. What I can say is that assassination is too easy to carry out. Our system does not work if the choices of the people for leaders, can not be respected. We are at the mercy of a world wide Cartel/Crime syndicate. The rules of “might makes right” is in full force. Only God can fix this mess but first, a test to see who shall survive to start again, and who shall not.

    • Many thanks for bothering to comment on a piece that did not particularly interest you truth1. Please do not feel that you need to do so. The piece does not especially interest me either, I was bored writing it and that is why it took me twelve days to come up with a very tepid three thousand words.It is actually the fact that the story is so depressing that makes it boring for me. Many thanks for commenting and hopefully there will be something more to your taste here in the near future.

  2. Quite the history lesson. I now better understand. Few words/clear as, so thank you. Easy to blame the murky and murder not-caring hands of western behind the scenes powers for everything, once tribal alliances breakdown, yet – it’s not hard to see the obvious instigators in these vulnerabilities. ‘But the West continued…’ and so it goes. On and on. Meddling madness to steal, kill and destroy – what cannot be controlled otherwise. Now bitterness and hatred erupts, a generation of younger fighters find what meaning they can, in war. Ideological violence. Or maybe – claimed here, in one of the clips – those with chemical intoxication, in the absence of ‘defending against invaders’. Curious about the motives of ‘ultra-nationalist elements’ certainly in the general population? Doubtless, a degree of outside supported provocateurs, helped/s this along? Stoked up, so now for those finding counter-ideals, ask for a dictator and go racial? What a wound-up dreadful horror. Do I turn away or face this brutal other kind of world? ‘Other world…’ for now/here. Except here, domestication and take us down through decadence and laziness, the way. Donbass fighters seem of a different calibre. Not saying it’s all good strength and us bad-not but can’t imagine we care such, about land, language, culture – anything that much. And all about? Make-ready for a world with one organisation called government, have us globally begging for this, as Ukraine/Donbass type battles rip more fragile nations among nations apart.

    What it does show, is those spouting; “Russia, the all threatening monster…” the media and its politico masters or dupers are fuelling destruction. Ever shocking. Sure, we need to be careful to see whatsoever is there. Search for counter-claims. And then, like you, somewhere like one of the decreasing number of outlets I allow myself. Here and… (I won’t name my small list). As for the pundits who take Western people, who think they’re thinkers, on some deceptive paths. I try and find mainstream-ish debate, at least to see some movement, in the more popular domain. Pray certain ‘consider-progressive’ readers grow and become an exodus into more sense and incisive evidence. This article and those raw clips are like splashing cold water on our face to wake. It’s despairing but won’t change by pretending. As usual/think: Where/who should read this update/Ukraine alt. primer?

    • The prodigal friend returns! Thanks for that contribution Mark. This is a very potted history that makes many short cuts, many of which you refer to in your comment. You make a lot of great points, I would suggest regarding the “we don’t care as much as them” argument, that we would care a lot if we felt these things to be threatened but we are complacent. I really appreciate your generosity towards me as a writer but I must admit that this area is a stretch for me. It is not a strong area knowledge wise at all and if you or anyone else is interested the sources that I have left in the piece may make a good starting point. The Saker is actually a great place to start for all matters Russian related, his knowledge is immense, the only caveat is that he has trouble saying unkind things about Russia but that site serves like the Corbett Report on other matters, as a great starting point on any subject. There is really no comparison with CoE, he has forgotten more than I know on the subject, the only advantage I have is that I do not love Russia!
      Many thanks for that comment and all the others, it means a lot.

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