Volunteers or paid fighters? The Vostok Battalion looms large in war with Kiev

Pro-Russian Vostok battalion seizes regional administration in Donetsk

At the headquarters of the Vostok Battalion on the outskirts of Donetsk, the rebel in command was ordering an attack on 30 Ukrainian soldiers and two fighting vehicles in a nearby town. “Shoot to kill,” he said, speaking with a subordinate over one of three mobile phones he carries. “What negotiations? If they wave a white flag, then of course that’s different.”

The commander, a Russian army veteran – who like all the men in the battalion is known only by a nickname (“Major”) – told his deputies to assemble 40 men and tank-busting weapons. A few minutes later, a soldier ran in with six rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Throughout the day, fighting vehicles and lorries loaded with armed men roared in and out of the base.

The Guardian

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