New commander of Russia's 'Kirkenes Brigade' says his marines are fighting NATO

By admin - February 15, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer
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For almost two weeks, Roman Fyodorov was trapped in the basement of a ruined house somewhere on the frontline as Ukrainian forces pounded the invading Russian troops with artillery and other weaponry.

Judging from comments made in an interview he narrowly made it out alive.

The 37-year old officer has been an active participant in Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine. And he is proud of his achievements in the aggressive and bloody war.

In November 2023, he was awarded the order Hero of Russia in a ceremony organised by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. According to the minister, Fyodorov commanded units that killed more than 230 Ukrainian soldiers, and also eliminated 12 tanks, 6 armoured fighting vehicles of foreign manufacture, two self-propelled artillery installations, 11 cars and 10 drones.

Fyodorov also took part in the building of defensive installations that helped stave off 20 Ukrainian attacks, Minister Shoigu said in the ceremony that took place in the Ministry of Defence’ National Command Center in Moscow.

 

Roman Fyodorov was awarded the Hero of Russia order in November 2023. Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence

 

None of the information provided by the Russian Defence Ministry, as well as in the interview with Fyodorov, can be verified by the Barents Observer, and the reported figures and comments are likely to have been carefully redacted and be of misleading character.

Roman Fyodorov grew up in a tiny village in Altai, local news media in the far east Russian region informs. His father was a driver and his mother a bookkeeper and he reportedly already as a small boy dreamt of a future in the military. He enrolled in a military school and later graduated from a military academy.

In year 2020, he was transferred to the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade in Pechenga, only few kilometres from Norway and Finland.

 

Both the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade are based in the Pechenga region only few kilometres from Norway and Finland. Photo: Atle Staalesen

 

In 2022, he took over the command of the brigade following the death of his predecessor Denis Kurilo, the colonel that was killed outside Kharkiv in the early phase of the Russian full-scale invasion.

Then, in late 2023, Fyodorov moved on to become Commander of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade, the powerful Northern Fleet marines based in the nearby settlement of Sputnik. The Brigade is branded as the ‘Kirkenes Brigade’ because of its engagement in the expulsion of German Nazi troops from the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes in October 1944.

 

Marines from the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in Sputnik. Photo: Womens’ Council of Sputnik on VK

 

According Fyodorov, the war in Ukraine resembles the Second World War.

“The only difference is the technology,” he says in the interview. “The similarity is that we are fighting a regular army, not some kind of militia as sometime reported by the media, but against a similarly well prepared regular army.”

He adds that it is also a ‘cleansing war.’

“For us, the war is also cleansing. I have in mind all the celebrities that have run from Russia — these are people that have betrayed their country, […]”

Fyodorov argues that the enemy is not Ukraine and Ukrainians as such, but “the Nazis that run everything in Ukraine”, as well as “the Western government that stand behind the Nazis.”

Ultimately, it is a war against NATO, the new commander of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade says.

“Now it has all come out and become very clear: the NATO block is our main enemy, it is evident how France, the USA and the UK act. They want some kind of hegemony, power over Russia. And Russia now understands this and therefore we wage a savage war with them.”

Roman Fyodorov commanded the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade before he took over the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade. Photo: ok.ru

The brigade commander does not mention nearby neighbours and NATO members Norway and Finland. The distance from the base of Sputnik to the Norwegian border is only about 15 km.

Moscow has launched several verbal attacks against Finland following its inclusion in the alliance. In December 2023, the Russian Foreign Ministry underlined that it would take “necessary measures to counter the aggressive actions of Finland and its NATO allies.”

Since the start of the full-scale onslaught on Ukraine, Russia has lost hundreds of thousands of men. The two brigades in the Pechenga region are alone believed to have lost several thousand of its warriors. Among them are a number of high-ranking officers, not only Denis Kurilo, the commander of the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade, but also Vladimir Zavadsky, the general that was in charge of several of the most powerful military units in the Kola Peninsula.

Zavadsky was reportedly killed by a mine on the 28th of November 2023 near Izyum in occupied parts of Kharkiv region.

 

Sputnik is the home base of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade. Photo: screenshot of video

 

Roman Fyodorov is now leading the training of Russia’s Arctic marines, and he will send hundreds of more men to the death fields in Ukraine.

According to the commander, his soldiers are now better prepared to fight.

“In 2022, it was honestly quite hard and not very understandable. We entered the territory of Ukraine and the monuments were kind of Soviet and people were speaking in Russian, and in principle they would have torn down [the monuments] had they been hardcore Fascists.”

“But when the summer campaign of 2023 started, it all became clear: where are the Bandera supporters and Azov fighters and the system of management,” he explains

Fyodorov argues that the Russian units currently deployed in the area are better capable of fighting independently, also without the involvement of the commanders of the brigade.

And he underlines that he has no belief in a peaceful settlement.

“We can no make peace now. We must have a fundamental victory and show our character. Only after that can we talk.”