Those in power in Ukraine must realize that Russia has always regarded the Crimea and the rest of Ukraine as its patrimony. We have vivid proof these days. Russia is feeling at home in Ukraine. It tells our independent Ukraine what kind of political system and official language to adopt, whether or not Ukraine can join NATO, which countries Ukraine can contact. Russia, while telling the world it has proposals aimed at settling the conflict in Ukraine, is reiterating its ultimatum… Civilized countries don’t act that way (I won’t mention any “fraternal” ones, least of all Russia that has long stopped being one). What we have is not the end of story. The annexation of Crimea actually means Russia’s defeat, in terms of economy, politics, and human factor… While focusing on the Crimea, Russia may well lose some of its territories simply because it will have no time to deal with them while trying to cope with the Crimea, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and other regions. I read an analytical article recently and learned that Russia has spent 132 years fighting wars, including only six years of defense. The rest were acts of aggression.”
How could Ukraine get back the Crimea?
“It will be back and knocking on the door, begging to be let in. For this to happen, Ukraine must quickly raise its living standard, to a level the Russians in the Crimea could only dream about. This will happen when Ukraine can be free to travel across Europe, when it adopts the European standard and human values, when it becomes an associate member of the European community… then people in the Crimea will join pro-Ukrainian rallies, because the peninsula will by then most likely have become an outcast in the eyes of the international community, with no Crimean resident being allowed to visit any country except Russia, with only Russians willing to visit this peninsula. The living standard [in the present-day Russia-occupied Crimea. – Ed.] won’t be higher than the average in any given province in Russia. They separated [from Ukraine] because they thought they’d live better. I think that a number of Crimeans will learn this lesson and revise the role Ukraine is playing in regard to them. You will agree that quite a number of Crimean residents are euphoric at their newly granted Russian citizenship while openly despising Ukrainians.”
Is there a real possibility of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia that will turn into a full-scale war?
“Ukraine will never start this war. Russia is waiting for it. It must have the sociopolitical situation in Ukraine destabilized, in the first place. What they [Russians] badly need is an unstable Ukraine, so they can show the rest of the world that Ukrainians are unable to run their own country. Once Russia senses a rift in Ukraine, its troops will start crossing our borders. However, this will be the beginning of the end of Russia.”
What about the threat of Russia trying to disrupt the presidential elections in Ukraine?
“It is doing just that, by putting out feelers, staging [pro-Russia] rallies. Therefore, it is very important to keep every canvassing campaign under slogans with a short and clear message that will unite the electorate and encourage our people to defend their country. I think the first question each such candidate should answer would be something like ‘Do you support or reject Ukraine’s NATO membership?’ Ukraine must join NATO, that’s vitally important. I think that all those opposing the idea are acting counter to the interests of Ukraine. Samooborona [Maidan Self-Defense], National Guard volunteers, all this looks and sounds great, but our forces are nothing compared to Russia’s military capacities. One has to realize that Russia will try to annex the territory of Ukraine tomorrow or maybe years from now.
“The new administration must visit the east [of Ukraine] and broach more acute issues while showing us Ukrainians the results of their work. Moscow will keep adding fuel to the fire within Ukraine. I’m convinced that Yanukovych is personally financing this project. There are no other reasons behind the pro-Russian movements in the east and south of Ukraine. No one has done anything to denigrate these regions or ban the Russian language. None have suffered any restrictions on the part of the new administration – except as alleged by Russia’s propaganda with its Spielberg-like stories about Banderite cannibals having Russian babies for lunch. Regrettably, many people in Russia believe these hair-raising tales. Any kind of propaganda can be counteracted by questioning or simply disbelieving certain stories. Putin is taking advantage of the Russian mentality: when faced with a clear and present danger, they quickly join forces, act as ordered, and refuse to consider the situation critically. The Kremlin gave them a clear-and-present-danger signal and designated the target: Banderites… Recent events are reminiscent of the Norilsk uprising, the way the prison camp guards tortured us, calling us fascists and Banderites… The methods haven’t changed, but truth will out.”