What weaponry is defending the Donetsk People’s Republic from NATO-backed Ukrainian aggression and what equipment are Donbass militias using to defend their embattled right to self-determination? Russian media reports and military analysts have offered the latest insight into the unique arsenal of besieged Donbass.
The multiple rocket launcher Cheburashka was first introduced to the public on May 9, 2018 during the Victory Parade in Donetsk. Two weeks ago, the DPR tactical missile troops used these new weapons against the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Avdeevka. The attack was opened in response to the Ukrainian murder of the famous Donbass militiaman Mamai, and showed off the precision and power of the new system.
It is worth mentioning that the Donetsk engineers decided to build two versions of the system: with one or two rocket blocks for 32 and 64 shots, respectively. The reach of the Cheburashka, in turn, varies between 600 meters and 10 kilometers.
According to Russian military expert Aleksei Leonkov, the Cheburashka system, however, cannot be compared to the Russian Grad or Smerch systems.
“The rocket systems produced in Donetsk are of a very high quality, but because of their combat characteristics, they lose a lot for the mass-produced equipment used by the Russian Missile Troops. Our multiple rocket launchers are supported by a whole team of military and technological scientists. The components of the systems, the guidance systems and the rockets – all this is produced with deep knowledge. But if we speak of ballistic fire, the Cheburashka can shoot effectively at short distances, which will be enough for several tens of shots,” the expert explained.
In the opinion of the expert, the main objective of the new armament is to hold back possible advances of the Ukrainian army across the front line.
It is interesting to note that DPR leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko has also commented on the creation of a naval version of Cheburashka, but for now no details have appeared in open sources.
The large-caliber ‘Separatist rifle’ can hardly be called a simple light weapon, as it looks more like a small cannon. It was created based on the Soviet anti-aircraft gun ZU-23 and has the same caliber – 23 mm. It is fired by individual firings – with conventional, incendiary, fragmentary ammunition and armor piercing.
Obviously, it is impossible to use this rifle with a simple bipod or with the hands, as it weighs almost 45 kilos, so the Donetsk builders invented a special tripod for this weapon. In addition, the Separatist is equipped with telescopic sight and has a range of up to 3.5 kilometers and it can drill light armor and brick walls.
Another novelty of the DPR in the field of light weapons is the precision Donchanka gun that, and according to the authorities of the republic, is Donbass’ counter to the supply of American Barrett M107A1 rifles to the Ukrainian army. The weapon has a caliber of 14.5 mm and a reach of 1,200 meters.
Close combat weapons
The Oplot pistol is, in turn, a completely “domestic” product by the DPR’s builders. Its main peculiarity consists of two removable and replaceable barrels for cartridges of different types. The less powerful version is aimed primarily for military forces, while the lighter modification is planned to be used by the police.
Taking into account that the DPR does not have its own ammunition production, the universal character of the pistol and its ability to use ammunition of different types are key factors.
“The weapon builders in the Donetsk region have all the resources and capabilities to produce their own weapons,” Leonkov said. “Previously, in the territories of the DPR and LPR there were weapons depots, and as a general rule, there are companies that are recovering and maintaining military equipment. By the way, Kiev is also trying to resuscitate old tanks, but they cannot do much. I think the successes of the DPR are thanks to their very great motivation. We work conscientiously here because it is understood: any mistake, failure or low quality of the weapons can lead to deaths among the local civilian population,” he summarized.