Friday, May 27, 2022

Russian Berets #2: The Sparta Battalion

The Sparta Battalion is a Russian separatist military unit of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine. It has been fighting against the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbas War and the 2022 Russian invasion.

Vladimir Zhoga

Formed in 2014, it was initially led by the Russian-born Arsen Pavlov (nicknamed “Motorola”) until his death in October 2016, and then by Vladimir Zhoga from Sloviansk, until his death in March 2022.

Arsen Pavlov (“Motorola”)

The Sparta Battalion has "a reputation for ruthlessness". It has been accused of war crimes in Donbas. In February 2015, Ukrainian SSU started an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed in January 2015 by the Battalion and its leader Arsen Pavlov, with charges including murder, bullying, torture and forcing people into slave labor.

The battalion flies the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire and, according to the European Eye on Radicalization, the unit "uses a combination of symbols of the Spartan military culture, well-known drivers of the far-right, and from the Tsarist era".

Its flag includes a letter M. According to a fighter interviewed by The Independent, this is "because it is dedicated to Motorola, our commander... a DPR hero".

Putin and Zhoga on 9 May 2022

Some observers had noted how the stylized red "M" looks identical to the logo of the Sparta Rangers, a fictional faction of elite soldiers from the Metro franchise, a series of books by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky and videogames by Ukrainian developer 4A Games.

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