President of Russia Vladimir Putin arrogantly scoffed at the defeat of the Ukrainian military in Debaltseve, gloating at their “shame” of losing the battle “to yesterday’s coal miners and tractor drivers.” In reality, Ukraine is fighting against Russian military that is hiding behind the fraying veil of local “separatists.” Much like Russia’s “little green men” in Crimea, Ukraine is crawling with regular Russian troops and armaments. Russia is using its most sophisticated weaponry in eastern Ukraine, including the truck-mounted SA-22 surface-to-air missile system (Pantsir-S1). Ukraine does not possess these types of weapon systems, which immediately dispels ludicrous claims of separatists about “capturing” weaponry from the Ukrainian armed forces.
Russian media dropped the pretense of tractor-driving local separatists with the recent report published by Ilya Barabanov in Russia’s newspaper “Kommersant.” It confirms longstanding reports by Ukrainian soldiers that they were fighting Russian regular troops, and not local militants, in Debaltseve. Barabanov writes: “20-year-old Misha was born in Yekaterinburg, 21-year-old Alex – in Mozdok, Artem is 22 years old, he is from the Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Dima is 23, he is from Vladikavkaz. Other guys are from Chita, Norilsk, Ulan-Ude. At the first glance, they have nothing in common. And yet, they do: the city of N, military unit *****, separate motorized infantry brigade 'N'.”