Igor (Strelkov) Girkin was the former FSB and allegedly GRU officer who became the Donetsk People’s Republic’s leading commander. It’s believed that Surkov sacked him because of being too successful. One version says that the Kremlin never intended Donetsk and Luhansk to be independent. Instead, the idea was to divert from Crimea and to create a frozen conflict to avoid Ukraine becoming too close to the EU and NATO. It seems Girkin became too emotional about Donetsk, becoming a problem for Moscow. He still cares.
In a piece published in the VPK on April 21, 2020, he regrets the current situation and draws three conclusions:
1. Attempts at a peaceful settlement based on a compromise between Moscow and Kyiv have completely failed because the concessions made by Moscow in the Minsk agreements resulted in losing the opportunity for politically consolidating what he considered a military victory in September 2014.
2. The war isn’t over. The capitulation of the Donetsk People’s Republic will become the prologue of the general capitulation of the Russian Federation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict around the Crimea.
3. Taking into consideration Russia’s current difficult socio-economic situation and the consequent increasing socio-political instability, a frozen conflict as it is now might become a heavy burden. Losses will increase.
It is clear, that he still expects to see intensity increasing. What is interesting is the VPK publishing such an article. Some military newspapers have become very critical of the central government, and this is only one example. Does it mean Putin is losing his power?