‘We need to reinforce our positions and launch an attack to chase the bandits out of Ukraine back to Rostov’. An interesting interview conducted by Vitaliy Portnikov (RadioSvoboda) in the framework of ‘Your Liberty’ with Serhiy Vysotskiy (Ukraine MP) and Andriy Tsaplienko (Journalist).
Vitaliy Portnikov: Mr. Vysotskiy, is a full-scale war possible now? How prepared is Ukraine for a full-scale war?
Serhiy Vysotskiy: I think a full-scale war is already in progress – an extensive all-inclusive hybrid war of the 21st century. A world war is already ongoing. It is being waged differently than the wars that had been waged in the 20th century. It is apparent to all of us that this is a world war. And it is spreading through a process of intense destabilization, which is what has happened in Ukraine and is happening across our planet. Conflicts that had been frozen are melting. All of this might be viewed and analyzed under the banner of ‘war on terrorism.’
This is the general, global context. An escalation in the aggressive tendencies of various entities usually follows in the aftermath of a significant economic crisis and serious economic decline that the world financial system is faced with. This happened in the 1920’s, in the 1930’s, and in the 1940’s. And it’s happening now. The criterion for global survival and world progress is changing. Thus a world war is underway.
The problem of ISIS and the war against ISIS is on the same plane for western Europe as the problem of Russia and its aggression in Ukraine and its stance against Europe. Possibly there is a link between the two problems. Because it has to be investigated and made known where the weapons are coming from, how ISIS and Russia are financially intertwined, who is laundering the money for them, and through what channels the financing is done. These are huge questions that need to be answered. Russia cannot be left out of these investigations. Keep in mind that Russia supplied weapons to the terrorists in the Middle East and to countries in Africa.
Putin wants to scare the west by killing more Ukrainians. That does not scare the west. Western countries deal with global issues. After all, many people are dying in other parts of the world, too. A continuation of the war will have no effect on the sanctions against Russia that are in place.
From the point of view of Washington, or London, preserving world order and stability (effectively invalidated with the annexation of Crimea) in order to maintain balance and authority is far more important than is the loss of more lives in Ukraine. In Donbas we are already seeing a dangerous escalation of the war.
Will there be an offensive from all fronts? I don’t know. This question should be posed to Putin’s psychiatrists. What is important is that by now Putin should understand that the no matter how many Ukrainians are killed the west will not step in to stop the killing in Ukraine. And that does not scare us. That is an important point.
Andriy Tsaplienko: I am reluctant to say that your point of view is wrong. But what you are saying and the way that you say it implies that Ukraine is not subject to international law but rather is an object that is being bandied about in international disputes. That there is no decision-making center in Kyiv and that we, the citizens of Ukraine are uninvolved and powerless. And that’s a pretty misguided point of view.
We have to solve our own problems. And at this point we have to solve them militarily.
Serhiy Vysotskiy: In our particular war with Russia we must be much more effective, our national security sector must be reformed at a much faster pace. We need an overhaul of the economic sector in order to be able to finance the war. This is all clearly reasonable. Our salvation is up to us.
To me it is obvious that the ‘Minsk Plan’ is not working, the ‘Minsk Accord’ is not being honored, the whole ‘Minsk Format’ is useless – according the DNR and the LNR some kind of official status. Hence, we need more intense diplomatic negotiations. We need to find a different format. So why aren’t we demanding from our western partners that the Budapest Memorandum be recognized and accepted as a viable format? Why have there still not been any appeals submitted to the guarantor countries?
Vitaliy Portnikov: Each of the guarantor countries can interpret the Budapest Memorandum in its own way. Russia, we know, maintains that the memorandum was all about agreeing not to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
Serhiy Vysotskiy:This needs clarification. Nobody in Ukraine has ever even posed the issue for discussion. I see no solution to this conflict and the war other than to toss this kettle of boiling oil that they themselves brought to the boiling point back at the Russians and their proxies and build a line of defense strong enough to repel the bandits forcing them to run off to Rostov and to cook their oil there.
Unfortunately I do not see any other solution to this besides the military solution. In this I concur with Andriy. A diplomatic solution would mean complete capitulation, accepting Russia dictating the terms of an ‘agreement,’ which is to say federalization, hanging a restraining harness around our necks. It would mean that we would become another Bosnia. That is unacceptable.
Andriy Tsaplienko: People who live in a state of denial about Russia could not begin to imagine how hot the conflict would become. They did not believe that Russia could or would annex Crimea. They did not believe that Russia would set in motion its ‘novorossiya’ scenario even as everything had been prepared in advance. For years Russia has been funding the pro-Russian parties in Crimea and Donbas, and their leaders, and for years there were Ukrainians who were blind to this practice because, in fact, they couldn’t care less about Ukraine and about Ukrainian statehood. And now these same people who after the Maidan have started taking responsibility for Ukraine as a state, these very same people are resorting to fear mongering.
The annexation of Crimea took place without a shot being fired, because it was a ‘legitimate reunification with Russia’ following a ‘referendum’ (I am using Putin’s logic here) with the ‘official concurrence’ of the Crimean Parliament and the Russian Parliament, the DNR and the LNR, the so-called peoples’ republics that came into being at a pseudo-Maidan rally. They tried to duplicate the Maidan. But no further steps after their pseudo-Maidan were taken.
Vitaliy Portnikov: So with Putin’s logic in mind, what can we expect next?
S. Vysotskiy: It is quite clear what he is capable of. Renewed battles and a new offensive in the two so-called republics can intensify. According to Putin’s logic the ‘young anti-fascist peoples’ republics’ are ‘retaking’ the territory that the ‘Kyiv junta has occupied.’ Preparations are underway for that to be completed. Columns of heavy military equipment stand ready, a plan of attack is being worked out. And the Ukrainian military forces are preparing to defend the places that have been liberated from the Russians and their proxies.
What will happen next? A strategy is in place to destabilize other cities in Ukraine including Kyiv. According to the Kremlin plan with this coming offensive against Donbas and in their attempt to destabilize the internal political situation rocking the situation into a third Maidan will force Poroshenko to make concessions and to agree to a federalization scheme.
But the Kremlin strategy is inadequate. Because Petro Poroshenko is not the center of power. Ukraine is strong and powerful precisely because we are so anti-authoritarian.
Vitaliy Portnikov: So who is prepared to follow in that direction? All of this is mere conjecture.
Serhiy Vysotskiy: I am not saying that Putin is prepared for that. I am simply describing a possible outcome that following your logic and your thinking might be formulated in the Kremlin. They don’t understand that even the decision to concede to Putin in regard to the federalization of Ukraine will not be the personal decision of Petro Poroshenko. We do not have a single-leader system of governing. We have a parliament which will never agree to something like federalization. Our elites are not like the Russian elites. We have opposition elites. In Ukraine, governing is more complicated than it is in Russia.
Andriy Tsaplienko: We have an ongoing war in our country. We have to be realistic in assessing the situation as we keep in mind that we do not have enough forces to conduct an offensive war. Presently we have approximately 50 thousand troops who have been deployed. We need at least three times as many troops to launch a massive offensive war. We can only hope to keep a balance of power under our present capabilities.
I think that what is happening now is that the Ukrainian armed forces are being put to the test. The Russians are looking for a weak spot. And they will find it. And once they find it, the regular Russian army that is stationed along the Russian/Ukrainian border will be deployed. They certainly have enough troops to wage an offensive war.
Vitaliy Portnikov: So then following your logic, we shouldn’t be doing anything? Not to expose our weak spot?
We have no real way of knowing the Kremlin’s reasoning and judgment.
The truth is that nobody wants to die. Ask yourself honestly and tell me are you prepared to go to the front, to be mobilized, or to volunteer to fight? Look inside yourself and tell me. Nobody wants to die. Or to go to the front. Everyone wants victory but few are ready to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Question on the hotline: If you are right then there would be no Armed Forces of Ukraine, there would be no volunteer battalions. In all the wars waged throughout the history of the human race, most of the population of a given country did not participate in the war. Wars have been waged by professionals or by volunteers who agree to loss of life. And the victory of a country depends not on the willingness and readiness of every citizen to go to war but on the number of military professionals a country has and on how many volunteers are prepared to join them.
Right now for us to be able to solve our current problem militarily we need to have a battle-ready army of 200 to 250 thousand soldiers. We have 50 thousand.
As far as military matters go, we have to realize that it took Croatia five years to prepare for Operation Storm. But the problem isn’t even that. The problem is that from a human, a civilized perspective we cannot execute a scorched earth operation like Russia did in Grozny, creating parks on top of the bones of innocent children afterward.
And we are not prepared to wage concentrated urban warfare. Our tactics must be consistent with the latest NATO standards using American techniques, we have to train specialized units within the army. Of course the regular army will serve as the skeleton for the modernized armed forces. And we need to develop complex, high precision weaponry.
Full version of the interview is avaible on radiosvoboda.org