An important role in the fact that citizens were able to freely designate their position, being protected from violent and psychological pressure from extremist gangs, both Islamist and Bandera, was played by Kuban Cossack detachments that ensured the security of the Crimean isthmus and public order in the peninsula .
In fact, the Crimean Spring, was the first large-scale operation in stories New Russia, in which the Cossack formations acted in close cooperation with the units of the Armed Forces of Russia, carrying out military orders of the High Command.
Moreover, the actual preparation for action on the Kuban Cossack army peninsula was carried out independently and ahead of time. So, long before the events of “Euromaidan”, Kuban people came to Crimea several times to support the Orthodox, who were under pressure from the Islamists with the full connivance of the Ukrainian authorities.
Just before the start of the Kiev insurgency in the Crimea, the embassy village of the Taman branch of the Kuban Cossack army was established. This representative office, staffed by local Cossacks, played an important role at the initial stage of the transfer of Kuban people in February 2014. It resolved issues related to the creation of a transshipment base and the search for vehicles to transport Cossacks in the Crimea.
The fact that the roads of the Crimea and Ukraine diverge became obvious immediately after the victory of the Euromaidan and the overthrow of Yanukovich, and at the same time, the Kuban Cossacks began preparing for the landing in the Crimea. It must be said that although this initially “grassroots” initiative received support at the level of Krasnodar and Moscow, the Cossacks decided most of the technical problems with its implementation. First of all, lists of volunteers who wanted to participate in the defense of the Crimea were compiled. Then the issues of transportation of the Cossacks to the port of Kavkaz and their placement at the place of the crossing on the territory of the camp site were solved. The first Kuban were transported in small batches and in civilian clothes, trying not to attract the attention of the Ukrainian (at that time) border guards and customs officers. However, the abundance of young, strong men with obviously military bearing, who, by agreement, went to the Crimea “on pilgrimage” or “visit relatives” so alerted the border guards that at some point they stopped the ferry service altogether.
However, by this time the Cossacks had crossed over enough to convince the border guards not to interfere with the movement of the ferry. Now they were transported, not particularly hiding, in field uniform, and in large groups.
Cossacks have been waiting. At the St. Andrew's Church in Kerch, the parishioners deployed a “transit point” at the embassy village by the forces of parishioners and Cossacks. Here Kuban met, fed, allowed to rest, and sent on.
The problem of transportation became quite acute - the SBU, the Nazis and the Islamists put pressure on road carriers, forbidding them to transport Cossacks, intimidating with all sorts of punishments, up to physical violence against drivers and their families.
Nevertheless, with the efforts of the Cossacks of the embassy village, parishioners of St. Andrew’s church and personally its prior, Archpriest Nikolai Zenkov, several buses still managed to find several buses that began to transport Cossacks to the most key places of Crimea - to Sevastopol, to Simferopol, and above all - on the Crimean Isthmus, where the situation was the most threatening.
At this moment, the borders of the peninsula were defended by only a few dozen employees of the “Berkut” who found themselves on the shafts of Perekop and Chongar immediately from the burning squares of Kiev. Their strength was clearly not enough to stop the attempt to break through. And there was no doubt that extremist attempts to break through to the peninsula would certainly follow.
The Cossacks arrived just at the last moment - on the other side they were already preparing for a breakthrough. From the drivers it became known that up to eight Ikarusov with armed militants of the Right Sector (banned in Russia, an extremist organization) approached the border.
The Kubans literally jumped out of the buses, grabbed machine guns from the boxes, cartridge pouches with shops and cartridges, and ran up in a run. Extremists on the Ukrainian side, having learned that help arrived at the “Berkut”, refrained from direct provocations.
The Cossacks of the Yekaterinodar Division occupied positions on Chongar, the Taman Division and the Black Sea District of the Kuban Cossack Army on Perekop and the Turkish Wall. With their arrival, the fighters of the “Berkut” felt incomparably calmer, although it cannot be said that the situation became less tense.
Employees of the "Berkut" carried out border control, and if necessary, inspection, vehicles, Kuban covered them, and also were in the positions they had prepared - rifle cells, opened on the crest of the Turkish shaft, covering the isthmus. At the disposal of the Cossacks, in addition to the machine guns, there were PC machine guns; in addition, there was one RPG-7 with two shots on the Turkish shaft, as well as incendiary bottles.
On the Ukrainian side, in addition to extremists, troops and armored vehicles were pulled up to the border, and volley fire systems were deployed a few kilometers from the Turkish shaft. The intentions of the potential adversary were not entirely clear. Whether he was preparing for an offensive, or, on the contrary, strengthening the border, was difficult to understand. It is possible that the Ukrainians themselves did not really understand this. But be that as it may, the Cossack secrets regularly recorded in the "neutrality" the activity of Ukrainian reconnaissance groups, the "signaling" triggered several times, and they had to open warning fire. Constantly noted the work of infrared lights.
Several times a day, combat alarm was declared. The APU armored vehicles repeatedly approached the border and defiantly turned into battle formations, imitating the preparation for the attack.
However, units of the Black Sea Fleet with heavy weapons, which formed the second echelon of the isthmus defense, soon arrived.
Ataman of the Tamansky Division, Cossack Colonel Ivan Bezugly, who commanded the Cossacks on the Turkish shaft and Perekop, said: "I told the commander of the military group:" You will be given an order to withdraw, and you will leave, leaving us alone. He objected: “No, we will not leave. This is my first combat operation, and I intend to conduct it as it should. ” And the next day, early in the morning, he comes to me and sees that his lips are trembling. “What is the matter?” - “We were ordered to move away!” He says. “Well, the order must be carried out,” I reply, “but leave us heavy weapons. I understand that you may have problems, so let's take pictures on camera as we disarm you. ” He thought and said: “Don't. We will leave you with armored personnel carriers and mortars. And if it becomes very difficult, you will be supported by helicopters. ” Well, the Cossacks quickly wrote on the armor "Glory of Kuban!", Formed the crews and calculations. "
But the troops on the isthmus returned. For the Cossacks, the meaning of these maneuvers remained unclear, and they decided that, in this way, the enemy was “lured away to live bait”. Colonel Bezugly said that after the marines were set aside, he gathered the Cossacks, and suggested that anyone who for some reason could not, or did not want to remain on the isthmus, return to the Kuban, or perform tasks in Simferopol. But there were none.
On March 8, the Cossacks shot down a Ukrainian reconnaissance aircraft. The twin-engine, light aircraft, flown in from the Kherson region, began to fly around the positions of the Turkish shaft. Kuban machine-gunners opened a warning fire. And then, since the crew did not react, and to the defeat. The plane began to smoke, and went to the Ukrainian side. According to radio intercept data, the pilots, fortunately, did not suffer, and managed to land the damaged car.
The next day, the Cossacks shot down the UAV UAV already over Perekop.
However, in addition to the threat of a force breakout, Bandera tried to infiltrate the peninsula to organize provocations and terrorist attacks aimed at disrupting the referendum. In the early days, Cossacks and fighters of the "Berkut" detained dozens of militants, seizing firearms from them. weapon and explosive devices. But soon they stopped carrying explosives and guns, realizing that it was useless, while the provocateurs themselves tried to hide behind the “crusts” of human rights activists, journalists, and even deputies.
So, for example, on March 9, a group of Avtomaidan activists was arrested, consisting of Ekaterina Butko, Alexandra Ryazantseva, Elena Maksimenko and two men. Their task was to coordinate the activities of extremist forces on the Crimean peninsula in order to disrupt the referendum. Extremist propaganda materials, huge amounts of money in hryvnias and dollars, intended to pay for provocateurs and bribe officials, communications, a notebook with a list of contacts and callsigns were seized from them. The members of the group had covering documents - editorial certificates of various Ukrainian media.
The Cossacks in a short time launched vigorous intelligence work. They received a lot of information from drivers of heavy trucks, minibuses and regular buses. Very close contacts have been established with the locals. From them, in particular, it became known that in one of the camp sites in the vicinity of Armyansk there appeared young people speaking in a Ukrainian dialect of a sporting appearance. While working on these data, it turned out that neo-Nazis and ultras gathered on the base, trickling to the peninsula one by one and in small groups, and preparing provocations during the referendum. Thanks to the vigilance of the Crimean people and their close contacts with the Cossacks, this danger was eliminated, and the provocateurs were expelled from the Crimea.
At his own expense
It should be noted that the Cossacks, most of whom had serious military experience, acted on the Turkish shaft and Perekop. The general management was carried out by the army colonel of the reserve, the special forces major, a knight of two Orders of Courage was in charge of the operational work. Among the Kuban were many participants in the fighting, officers and warrant officers of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Some of them managed to work in the private security committees, including in Syria (as part of the “Slavic Corps”) and in anti-piracy groups that protected the seafaring off the coast of Africa and conducted operations against sea robbers.
Almost all those present participated in the rescue operation in 2012 during the flood in Krymsk. In addition, from the very first steps of the Cossack revival in the Taman branch of the Kuban Cossack army, much attention was paid to the combat training of draftees and military personnel of the reserve. After the adoption of the Federal Law "On the State Service of the Russian Cossacks", the combat training groups turned into battalions in the Taman Division first, then regimental self-defense regiments (after the Crimean Spring, they were reduced to the 1 Taman Cossack Division). Within these subdivisions, field classes with the Cossacks are regularly held, command and staff exercises, annual regimental (today - divisional) field training are held. So in the Crimea, there were well-coordinated and prepared units. There were no questions with who would lead the BTR, or enter into mortar calculations. So, even the fighters of the “Berkut”, seeing the Kuban training, suspected them at first of the disguised special forces fighters.
It should be particularly noted that the Cossacks' combat training and the existence of territorial units, the state costs almost nothing (except for the cost of ammunition shot by Cossacks at the test site), even the fees are mainly due to district societies and sponsorship.
It must be said that in Crimea, too, the special participation of the state in supporting the actions of the Cossacks was not striking, except for the issued automata, old cartridge pouches and helmets of the US-68 (looking ahead, I will note that there are no problems with the lost automata, shops and bayonet knives , it was not - everything was handed over clearly on the list).
Even to pay for the buses that brought them to the isthmus, the Cossacks had to fold. Feeding was carried out at the expense of the local population. Crimeans carried food in such quantities that they soon had to refuse, although the Berkut soldiers and soldiers from the units deployed by the second echelon also went to the Cossack "canteen".
It was striking that many Cossacks were dressed in Ukrainian camouflage, reminiscent of the Soviet "butane". This phenomenon was explained simply, the Cossacks who crossed the strait in the first installments were, for obvious reasons, in a particular dress. And in order to give themselves a “statutory look”, they bought a uniform in the military trading centers of Simferopol and Armyansk.
Guarding the border of the peninsula is not the only task that was solved by Kuban during the days of the Crimean Spring. Their significant forces were attracted to the cordoning off of the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers of Crimea, participated in blocking the places of permanent deployment of parts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who did not want to accept the will of the people of the peninsula, ensured the safety of polling stations. Under the control of the Cossacks of the Taman department, there was also an airport in Simferopol. In the internal territories of the Crimea, the Cossacks were unarmed, and acted as civil activists. But at the same time they acted much more efficiently and more harmoniously. This work was also familiar to them - in the service in the public order squads, which help the police in the Krasnodar Territory, and took an active part in ensuring the Sochi Olympics.
Moreover, the Cossacks at the same time quite successfully acted as agitators and negotiators, unmistakably finding ways to smooth out emerging conflicts. It is noteworthy that the Kuban balachka (a dialect of the Kuban Cossacks, in which there are many words consonant with Little Russian), acted soothingly on the inveterate "svidomitov." Although all the Cossacks rushed to Perekop and the Turkish shaft to serve with arms, their activity in the “rear” (if there was a rear in the Crimea) was no less important. They neutralized dozens of provocateurs and extremists, prevented many incidents. In a number of cases, they managed to convince Ukrainian servicemen to submit to the will of the people of Crimea.
And finally, they were able to detect the intelligence center of the Western special services in the center of Simferopol. Even before the events of the Crimean spring, foreign agents rented empty premises in the building of a closed cafe overlooking the square outside the building of the Supreme Council, and delivered there almost a ton of spy equipment that allows for wiretapping of the Crimean parliament and government.
Thanks to the vigilance of the Cossacks, this espionage nest was discovered on time (four foreigners and two Russian citizens serving it, had already completed the installation of the equipment) and neutralized.
As you know, in Kiev, the Crimean Spring was called the “hybrid war operation”. And if we accept this terminology, the Cossacks must be recognized as the most effective "hybrid fighters" capable of solving the widest range of tasks.
Recall that during those events, the law-enforcement structure of the Crimea was to a certain extent disoriented and disorganized. In contrast to the "Berkut" a significant part of the militia of the peninsula did not know what to do, who to obey and was at a loss. For obvious reasons, the military personnel of the Russian Federation could not assume the functions of protecting public order or defending the external borders of the peninsula. The hastily-created self-defense of the Crimea, although enthusiastic, had neither the necessary organization nor the appropriate training. And in this situation, the Cossacks became the force that was able to cover in these crucial days the most "thin places", not allowing them to "break."
I must say that the "hybrid" capabilities of the Cossacks have been known for a very long time. So, in difficult times for Russia, which came after the Time of Troubles, when the Muscovite state was too weak to enter into direct confrontation with Turkey and the Crimean Khanate, the Cossacks carried out very effective measures to contain these predators. And on all the complaints of Istanbul and Bakhchisarai, Moscow, secretly assisting the Cossacks and directing their blows, declared that it had no relation to this, and the offenders of the Turks and Crimeans act independently, and contrary to the royal will.
"Hybrid" can be recognized and the movement to the East, where the Cossacks, acting at their own risk and risk, acting not only as a military force, but also merchants, missionaries and enlighteners, regularly "beat the king" with new lands. And even when Russia gained strength and became an empire, the Cossacks very often acted where the use of regular troops was inexpedient for political, diplomatic or economic reasons.
The revived Cossacks, with varying degrees of efficiency, took part in almost all armed conflicts in the post-Soviet space, guided by the principle of protecting the interests of the Russian world and Orthodoxy. And it acted absolutely independently, not only because the country's leadership often did not have a clear and consistent position in these conflicts, but also frankly did not know what to do with the Cossacks.
So the Crimean Spring has become a real symphony of the Russian authorities and Cossacks, perhaps the first in the history of new Russia. The head of the country, Vladimir Putin, highly appreciated the contribution of Kuban to the reunification of Crimea with Russia. All participants of the events were awarded medals of the Ministry of Defense and the Government of Crimea. Colonel Bezugly was awarded the title Hero of Kuban. But the most important award for Kuban was the right to participate in the Victory Parade, for the first time since 1945.