« There was this one really blond guy, Russian for sure. "Are you Razor? Where is Cooper?" He flipped when we wouldn't tell him, just went down the line and knifed us, one, two, three, like that.
Simmons informs Razor Team about Karelin

Karelin is one of the main antagonists of ArmA 2's Operation Harvest Red campaign.


Not much is known about Karelin's past, aside from the fact that he became a Spetsnaz team leader at some point prior to or during the Soviet Union's collapse.

He fervently opposes Chernarussian independence and seeks nothing more than (what he sees) a rightful return of all former USSR territories back into Russia's fold.

Operation Harvest Red (2009)

Without knowledge from either the Russian government or the military, Karelin eventually foments a plot to incite civil war in the upstart nation, supplying arms, funding, and equipment to anti-government groups.

The largest of these opposition groups, the so-called Chernarussian Movement of the Red Star (ChDKZ), would be the perfect catalysts. Already, the group had attempted to overthrow the Chernarussian government but had failed miserably due to a lack of support.

Karelin personally contacted the leaders of the rebel organisation - Gregori Lopotev and Mikola Bardak, and through his contacts in the Kremlin, arranged to have arms smugglers and other sympathetic groups support them. Members of Karelin's own Spetsnaz team would also be providing support by training and leading ChDKZ into battle.

For two months, Karelin and his men would continue biding time building up the ChDKZ's strength until the time was right to strike against the Chernarussian government. On September 1st, 2009, Karelin instructed Lopotev to carry out a second uprising.

Unlike their first failed attempt, this uprising was successful in overthrowing the regional government largely due to Karelin's leadership. Within weeks, all of South Zagoria would fall under ChDKZ control. Lopotev would soon announce his intention to integrate the province into the Russian Federation. All that was left now was to wait for the Kremlin to act.

However, the Kremlin was still reluctant to intervene directly or outright back Lopotev's announcement. It didn't help that the U.S. government was also meddling in the crisis, and would soon be invading South Zagoria in support of the Chernarussian government.

As the American-backed offensive allowed the Chernarussians to reclaim territory, time was running out for Karelin. The ChDKZ were losing ground rapidly and Bardak had also been captured. Left with no choice, Karelin initiated "Operation Cobalt", a plan to have ChDKZ operatives carry out a terrorist attack in the heart of the capital's Red Square. Chernarussian extremists would be blamed for the attack, and force the Kremlin to intervene in the crisis.

Operation Cobalt succeeds and two hundred Russians are killed in the attack with countless more being injured. The Americans are forced to withdraw from South Zagoria, and the Chernarussians are to relinquish retaken territory back into the hands of the ChDKZ.

However, Karelin had also received ill-news that "Spukayev", one of ChDKZ operatives involved in Operation Cobalt, was planning to betray the organisation and reveal the truth behind the bombing. Two American Force Reconnaissance teams, Razor and Sabre, were looking into the man's case. Karelin knew the identity of one of the Marines, Matthew Cooper, but couldn't track him down just yet.

Karelin's team bided their time and waited for Sabre Team to bring back Spukayev to their camp. Once Spukayev was in place, Karelin's team struck it with full force and in a single stroke, annihilated the traitor and most of Sabre with mortars and gunfire. Only a few survivors were left now; Karelin interrogated them one-by-one and demanded to know where Cooper was hiding. They refused to answer him; in return, Karelin cut their throats.

Karelin still focused on supporting the ChDKZ, helping them track down NAPA extremists whenever possible. However, Razor Team was still on the run and so as long as they remained, they were a loose end that could jeopardise everything.


Lopotev is eventually captured by the Americans. To make matters worse, his contacts in the Kremlin revealed that a secret deal would be taking place. In exchange for both Lopotev and his testimony over the ChDKZ's involvement in Operation Cobalt, the Russian military would withdraw from South Zagoria and abandon the ChDKZ to its fate.

Karelin couldn't let that happen, even if he had to kill Russian soldiers to save Lopotev. He personally led his team to the exchange point just south of the Vybor airbase. Once his team was in place, Karelin commenced the attack.

However, in the fierce but brief firefight that followed, his team and even Karelin himself were killed. The Russian commander had also managed to flee with Lopotev.

« Razor Team! Come, look at this. Your man is correct, they were Spetsnaz..
The Russian officer identifies Karelin's corpse

His identity is visually confirmed by one of the Russian officers who remained behind at the scene. The officer quickly relays information of the rogue Spetsnaz operative's involvement in the Red Square bombing and conspiracy back to the Russian government.

Combined with the evidence gathered by Razor Team, this eventually culminates in the Russian military's withdrawal from the country and the final destruction of the ChDKZ, putting an end to Karelin's conspiracy once and for all.

Personality and Appearance

Karelin appears as a blond-haired, middle-aged Slavic male who wears the standard gear of a Spetsnaz team leader, complete with a red beret, Kora-Kulon body armour vest, and a Gorka mountain suit.

Not much is known about Karelin himself, save for his obvious extremist goal of bringing Russia back to the glory of its Soviet days. He is stated to have a brutal, almost borderline delusional personality and will gladly eliminate anyone who he deems expendable for his plans; regardless of whether they're American, Chernarussian, or even his own countrymen.

« Some blond bastard named Karelin was in charge. He was a madman! Kept raving about Lopotev being too soft! He was just about to knife us all in cold blood when you attacked the city!
Karelin's involvement is confirmed at last by the NAPA guerillas after Novy Sobor's liberation.

This is particularly evident by how he coldly executes every single one of the remaining Force Recon Marines from Sabre Team one by one with a knife when they refused to tell him the whereabouts of Razor Team. Or by how he tortured NAPA collaborators in order to punish them for supporting the guerillas. Even during the final ambush to save Lopotev, he guns down Shagarov's personal detail without a second thought.

All of this eventually leads to his own downfall however, and ironically brings about the one conclusion that he didn't want to see happen; Chernarus moving away from Russia's sphere of influence and becoming firmly pro-West.


  • It is never specified as to whether "Karelin" is merely his operating codename or is a part of his real name.
    • Internally, he does have what appears to be a real name and is called "Ivan Nikolayevich". Since this is never actually mentioned in-game however, whether or not this is true remains unclear.
  • Karelin is one of the few antagonists throughout the entire series that lacks a speaking role despite being behind most of the campaign's events.
    • In spite of being mentioned continuously both by name and appearance throughout Harvest Red, his first and only physical appearance is in the latter stages of the final mission for the campaign. And even then, the player will most likely only see his corpse - assuming they manage to find it amongst the other Spetsnaz team members.


See also

Characters of ArmA 2
USMC 27th MEU Carl DresslerDavid ArmstrongEd Winter* • John MaddoxShaftoe
Force Recon Brian O'HaraChad Rodriguez† • Ian Simmons† • Matthew CooperPatrick Miles† • Peter Adamson† • Randolph SykesRobert Johnson† • Sanjeev Raj† • Steve Kaminski
U.S. Army Task Force Knight Ben HerreraC.F. KaneGarry PierceHoward Drake
Delta Force Terry Graves
ACR Bohuslav KoubaJan KristekTomáš VybíralZabu
CDF BegunovR.A. StavovichTomas Marny
ChDKZ Gregori Lopotev* • Kostey† • Mikola Bardak* • Nikola Nikitin
Russian Armed Forces Karelin† • Lev Zotkin* • Mikhail Istcov* • Shagarov
NAPA Prizrak† • Little JohnYidashYuri Olegich
British Army Jack GallagherJames IrvinePhilip Stephenson
Bystrican Militia Andrej KasunBorz KazbekovDragan KasunRadan Miyović
Smugglers Aslan Radayev
ION Brian FrostFrank "Tanny" Radcliffe† • Henry AsanoJames Eckersley† • Mark ReynoldsPatrick Dixon† • Roland Saunderson
Takistani Army Muhammad R. Aziz


Anita BakerAntonia LagushinaIvan Ruce† • Joe Harris† • Josef Sova† • Lucin* • Rita EnslerValentina Galkina† • Vojtech Hladik
indicates deceased characters | * indicates character status is unknown
DLCs that the character was first introduced in:
Operation Arrowhead | British Armed Forces | Private Military Company | Army of the Czech Republic
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