Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova regularly visits Russia's newly acquired territories. What is happening in Donbass? Are frontline commanders going to come to rule Russia some time in the future? Is it true that it is Russians vs. Russians in Donbass? Daria Aslamova shared her impressions of what she saw there in an interview with Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova.
"Daria, you've recently returned from your yet another trip to Donbass. You have been going there since 2014. What was new for you there this time?"
"First off, there is a new Russian elite being formed in the Donbass. Since the beginning of the special operation, a powerful volunteer movement has been developing. There are no oligarchs or big business players in this movement. There is small and medium businesses there. We have already had a similar process happening in Russia during the 1990s, but that was a negative process in so many ascpets.
"The process that we can observe today is a positive one. Small and medium businesses help the front. They have direct connections with frontline commanders. They call commanders and ask them what they need. They get drones, medicines, car wheels and so on and so forth and send all those items to the zone of the special operation. There is a whole elite of frontline commanders emerging — they develop close ties with entrepreneurs and businessmen that help them. Time will come when this new elite will rightfully ask for a place under the sun in the new world that is now emerging.
"A new Russian elite is being born in Donbass. After the special operation ends, the people from that elite will gradually force out those businessmen who did not support the special operation. They will have the power of the army and the power of business. This process can be a very beneficial one.
"The conflict in Donbass is the conflict between Russians. It's always Russians vs. Russians there. Whenever I go there, I would be told that there are Russians on both sides of the barricades. Those people used to be classmates and neighbours. They know each other and they speak Russian. They speak Ukrainian when they need to make a video. The idea of the West was that the Russians would destroy the Russians, because this is a civil war. They are genetically Russian people, but they were convinced that they were not Russian. They are like our reflection in a black mirror. They scream and shout that they are different!
"This is a dream of the West: to annihilate the Russians by the hands of the Russians. If you shout to them from a trench: "Surrender!" — they respond: "The Russians do not surrender!"
"Even totally stoned Nazis from Azov* surrendered only when they were told to surrender. They had no fear when they were getting on a bus. They are just like us. Their motivation is different, but their mindset is similar to ours. They are the Russians who declared themselves European Ukrainians."
*terrorist group, banned in Russia
The counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is subsiding, and many try to make forecasts about the outcome of military operations in Ukraine