Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin (Russian:И́горь Все́володович Ги́ркин; born 17 December 1970), also known by the alias Igor Ivanovich Strelkov (Russian: И́горь Ива́нович Стрелко́в), is a Russian army veteran and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who played a key role in the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and later the war in Donbas as an organizer of militant groups in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Girkin led a group of militants into Ukraine where he participated in the 2014 Siege of Sloviansk. During the battle he increased his influence and ultimately became the de facto military commander of all separatist forces in the Donbas region, which was confirmed by the "prime minister" Alexander Borodai of the DPR who appointed him as official Defense Minister.
About warfare against Ukraine in Donbas from April 2014
- I was the one who pulled the trigger of this war.
- If our unit hadn't crossed the border, everything would have fizzled out.
- There would have been several dozen killed, burned, detained. And that would have been the end of it. But the flywheel of the war, which is continuing to this day, was spun by our unit. We mixed up all the cards on the table.
- Said about the war in Eastern Ukraine starting in April 2014, quoted in "Russia's Igor Strelkov: I Am Responsible for War in Eastern Ukraine", Moscow Times, 21 November 2014
- Ukrainian military men said to me why are you sitting like cowards, go out into the field, don’t hide behind civilians. Well sorry! Go out into the field to be killed? I’m not Don Quixote, after all!
- "Russian Donbas militant leader Girkin admits to using civilians as human shields & other war crimes", Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, 25 May 2019
About the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
- 29 days of the special operation have passed. No strategic success has been achieved in any direction.
- Even more : The enemy is quite successful in mobilizing and launching a counter-offensive.
- To my regret, I have to say that my most pessimistic predictions that we will be dragged into a bloody, long, draining and highly dangerous mess for the Russian Federation have come true.
- Putin and his circle have recently embarked on a path that I believe will inevitably lead to a collapse of the system. We don’t know how yet, we don’t know when yet, but we’re sure it will collapse, and sooner rather than later.
- For them, I’m an uncomfortable figure. They don’t know what to do with me: am I a hero or a terrorist? They can’t arrest me and put me in jail because that would be considered an admission to the West. To honor me Neither can they, so I’m caught between the chairs.
- "Ukraine: Igor Girkin was once powerful Separatist leader. Then he broke with Putin", 24 World Hours, 26 March 2022
- We must ask ourselves, does the superiority of the Russian Federation’s armed forces in aviation and heavy weapons guarantee victory over an enemy, for whom our offensive plans are obvious, which is prepared for defense and has high morale? My answer is NO — there is no guarantee.
- Without at least a partial mobilization in the Russian Federation, it will be impossible and highly dangerous to launch a deep strategic offensive against the so-called ‘Ukraine.’ We must prepare for a long and difficult war.
- If our forces advance at the speed of a limping invalid this could take a long time.
- "Soldier-spy ‘Strelkov’ snipes from the sidelines at Russia’s setbacks in Ukraine", Politico, 21 April 2022
- Let's imagine for a second, that in the next few weeks the enemy will be after all defeated through continuous frontal and flank attacks, and completely pushed out of [Donbas] borders. And? What will this achieve? Will this end the war? No, not at all.
- When [Russian troops] weakened in heavy fights and bloody assaults reach the borders of [Donbas], they will be met by fresh and well-equipped [Ukrainian] units at frontiers prepared for defence in advance.
- Even if those fresh units for whatever reason decide not to take over the initiative and begin a counter-offensive - still the Russian Federation will face a perspective of a long positional war, which is nearly fatal (in current conditions) to our economy, social and socio-political situation.
- It's meaningless to hope for victory through attrition taking into account that almost all of Europe and North America are acting as a rear for [Ukraine].
- Thus, it will be necessary to try and defeat the enemy in field battles. And, excuse me, with whom, and with what?! If so far not even the partial mobilisation has been carried out?! No one is giving clear answers to these questions. Simply because there aren't any.
- The war in Ukraine will continue until the complete defeat of Russia. We have already lost, the rest is just a matter of time.
- "‘We have already lost’: far-right Russian bloggers slam military failures", The Guardian, 8 September 2022
- The majority of mobilized (and most of the regular) servicemen of the RF Armed Forces have no motivation to sacrifice in the conduct of hostilities against the Armed Forces of Ukraine, since the goals of the war are not only not explained by the authorities, but are not even officially defined at all. At the same time, the disciplinary measures that are at the disposal of the command of the RF Armed Forces “according to the laws of peacetime” are not enough to make military personnel fear them more than death and injury from enemy fire.
- "Превращение России в единый военный лагерь" (Russian; "The transformation of Russia into a single military camp"), Echo of Moscow, 23 January 2023
- I am not afraid to say that we are moving toward military defeat.
- "Putin's Forces Heading to Military 'Defeat,' Former Russian Commander Warns", Newsweek, 2 April 2023