Rebel Commander Aleksey Mozgovoy Killed in East Ukraine, Frozen Conflict?

Yahoo. Quoting, “The defence ministry of the self-proclaimed Lugansk republic confirmed that Alexey Mozgovoy, the commander of a police battalion in the war-torn region, was among the dead and said it was hunting for the assailants behind the attack.”

So let’s round up the usual suspects. Russia makes the list, and here’s a helpful guide to the others: A Guide to the Warlords of Ukraine’s ‘Separatist Republics’

There has been of a lot of friction between the various rebel commanders, so they cannot be excluded. A Ukraine based site,, says the Russian GRU killed Mozgovoy, because he would not obey orders from Moscow. But every interest has a conceivable motive to name someone other than the actual. A rebel commander would name either Ukraine, or a rival, which avoids irritating Moscow and also weakens the rival.

But quoting from a 5/24 article in The Independent, “Over the past six months, several of the most unwieldy rebel leaders have been removed – and many assume Mr Mozgovoi is next on the list. It is well known that Mr Mozgovoi is on difficult terms with the Kremlin-annointed leader of the Luhansk republic, Igor Plotnitsky.”

Why he was on difficult terms is concisely described by the title: Ukraine crisis: Separatist rebel commander Aleksey Mozgovoi says he is ‘ready for more deaths’ – and warns ceasefire with Kiev won’t hold.  Mozgovoy’s assassination accords with a pattern of murders that overlap in time with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, and includes the execution of one, and possibly more, of Chechnya ruler Kadyrov’s men, discussed in Chechnya threatens Russia; Expansionist Complex.

A reasonable surmise is that the murder of Nemtsov catalyzed thought in the Kremlin, particularly Putin’s own, that the Expansionist Complex now poses more of a threat to Russia than Ukraine ever did. The situation has evolved into the political equivalent of a thunderstorm supercell, in which the natural tendency to dissipate is thwarted by cyclonic updraft. The unexpected energy supply owes to the instability of North Caucasus, evidenced by Kadyrov’s men doing a hit for the separatists. So Moscow may now  try for a frozen conflict.

As early as 9/2014, an article in the International Business Times, with Novaya Gazeta as a source, claimed “Cash-Strapped Russia Won’t Support Ukrainian Separatist Regions Of Donetsk And Luhansk.” The article cites financial burden, but the danger of  imported political instability is more compelling. Moscow would have to kill off every member of the rebel leadership who has  a mind of his own, and try to absorb the others, who would remain security risks. And as a reservoir of disaffection, the general population would not be without risk.

A purge is not as practical as it seems. Despite the occasional assassination, Russia has become, compared to what it was before, a humanitarian state. We abhor some of the methods, such as extrajudicial execution. But Russia is nothing like it was before. The mind of today’s Russian has not been brutalized by purges. It has merely been deceived by Russian news media. Whatever type of the state Vladimir Putin desires to construct, it is distinct from the totalitarian familiar.

A purge  would not kill their ghosts, which  would live in the minds of others, brutalized by knowledge of the deed. And the Caucasus is a graveyard of ghosts yearning to escape from the grave.