Another civil war within a civil war may be brewing in Lugansk subject logo: DONBASWAR
Posted by: badanov

For a map, click here. You can enlarge the map, if you open it separately.

By Chris Covert

As fighting in Donetsk continues to heat up, a small civil war within the civil war in Luganks has been going on since last month, according to Ukrainian Russian language news accounts. reported Wednesday that the popular leader of Cossacks in Lugansk and others was liquidated by Russian security services and by rebel forces in Lugansk.

A Facebook post on the page of the Ukrainian run Donetsk Regional Administration quoted Colonel Valentin Fedichev, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian command in southeastern Ukraine, as saying that Ataman Kozitsyn "no longer exists," and that several other Cossack commanders loyal to Ataman Kozitsyn have been eliminated by forces loyal to Lugansk president Igor Plotnitsky, Kozitsyn's chief rival, Colonel Pavel Dremov, and by Russian "security services", which can only mean either Russian FSB or GRU Spetsnaz forces.

Said Colonel Valentin Fedicheva: "... the Cossacks, who sincerely believed in the creation of an independent Cossack republic - killed or arrested by Russian security services." He further characterized the military campaign against other Cossacks by Dremov as a "cleansing" of Cossack units.

Ataman Kozitsyn has long antagonized both Plotnitsky and Plotnitsky's Russian backing by pushing for a separate Cossack republic, and by maintaining a military force of soldiers loyal to him, dubbed the Grand Don Army of the Cossacks.

Since last summer, his forces directly engaged by fire forces loyal to Plotnitsky several times in response to policies maintained by Plotnitsky, to include trading with Ukraine.

A separate news account in said that pro Russian Cossack units have been fighting with forces loyal to Kozitsyn and his Grand Don Army of the Cossacks, according to data supplied by another Ukrainian military officer, Colonel Aleksandr Motuzyanik.

Plotnitsky has a long history with Kozitsyn's Cossacks by his statements late last year, saying that the end result for Lugansk should be a republic in the Russian federation.

Kozitsyn was last heard from in a news article in, March 24th, when he was quoted as saying his Cossacks were engaged in agricultural work.

Plotnitsky's decision to kill a popular military commander, Aleksandr Bednov last January 1st, did not set well with several Lugansk commanders, to include Alexei Mozgovoi, commander of the Lugansk Ghost Brigade, which is posted in Alchevsk in western Lugansk.

Plotnitsky has been pushing since the start of the year to combine forces posted in Lugansk under a single command, to include logistics, but news emerging from rebel media suggests that Mozgovoi, one of the commanders who have publicly antagonized Plotnitsky, has not received the same consideration as Don cossacks loyal to Plotnitsky have received.

It was reported in rebel media Wednesday that Dremov's Cossack unit received its battle flag April 11th as the 6th Cossack Motorized Cavalry Regiment with the honorific Matvei Platov, a Cossack commander of some note during the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century.

In Slavic military circles, a unit battle flag is considered to be a defining characteristic of a unit, so much so, whole divisions have been disbanded for having lost their banner in battle.

According to the post, Mozgovoi's brigade to date has not received either a battle flag or an honorific.

Also, pro Russian Cossack units are currently receiving pay, whereas Mozgovoi's units are forced to rely on personal resources, donations from abroad and support from locals in Alchevsk.

Last month, Mozgovoi was attacked by a remotely detonated directional mine near Alchevsk, one of six top field commanders who were attacked by a roadside bomb or by small arms attack that month. Of those six field commanders, two were killed.

Plotnitsky was fingered by an investigator just after the incident as possibly being responsible for the attack.

Mozgovoi had severely criticized rebel commanders in the Debaltsevo, salient operation which ended in February, characterizing the operation as a Pyrrhic victory, instead of the great victory claimed by rebel media.

In a translated video just before the conclusion of the Debaltsevo operation, Mozgovoi also directly addressed Plotnitsky, saying to the camera(paraphrasing, from memory), "Do you think you matter now?"

That remark as well as his revelation about rebel casualties in the Debaltsevo operation was the clearest indication of how deeply the Russian Federation is influencing events in southeastern Ukraine, and how much relations between Plotnitsky and his commanders have deteriorated.

One other top Cossack leader, mayor of Pervomaysk, Evgeny Ishchenko, was killed along with three others in January, is it said, by a Ukrainian special forces team. However, it has been hinted that Plotnitsky was the author of that attack as well.

Ishchenko was said to be a close friend of Colonel Dremov.

Ataman Kozitsyn disappeared from rebel news for a few weeks before emerging just before the conclusion of the Debaltsevo operation. His units were involved in mopping up operations on the eastern side of the Debaltsevo pocket.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for He can be reached at and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

If you have something to add, Fire Away!

Number of Comments so far: 0

Click here for a list of stories in the The 2014 War in Ukraina category