Former Head of Security Service in Ukraine, General of the Army of Ukraine Yevhen Marchuk in exclusive interview to Elena Poskannaya (for Gordonua) told why Western society fears to convey defensive arm to Ukrainian troops, how Russian president Vladimir Putin blackmails world leaders and what former Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov has really said in his interview.
Everyone has forgotten that USSR missile troops located in Ukraine were pointed to U.S. There were 1,5K of nuclear warheads, 30 Hiroshimas each, Yevhen Marchuk says.
The possibility of defensive arm supply to Ukraine has been discussed for several months in countries of Europe and the USA. Western partners restricted themselves to imposing economical sanctions against Russia and providing humanitarian aid and military hardware. The decision on allocation of lethal arms is still under consideration.
Head of the International Secretariat on Security and Civil Cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, former Head of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Defense General Yevhen Marchuk believes that the reason of Western leaders inactivity is the risk of escalation of the military conflict in Donbass region and nuclear blackmail from Russia.
«Countries that guaranteed our sovereignty left Ukraine one-on-one with angry Russia armed to the teeth.»
– Despite Senators’ pressure, the US President agreed to give Ukraine only unmanned aircrafts and armored cars. Does this mean that America refused to provide real military support to Ukraine?
– The US authorities made their decision concerning this point. So far so good.
I think that neither the USA nor Europe will provide military aid. They will not give us lethal weapon. Russia is waiting for that. Firstly, the decision won’t be secret and Russians will immediately send several special forces units to Ukraine to take items at any costs.
Secondly, if the USA adopt a decision on giving us lethal weapon (anti-tank and anti-aircraft), Russia will use this matter to make cause for mass weapon supply to the conflict zone. This is common logic: if the USA enforces Ukraine, then Russia has to enforce itself. Of course, it is pure invention. The Russian Federation has flooded whole Donbass with different types of modern offensive weapons. Not all countries of NATO have such scope of military hardware as soldiers of DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic).
– The USA doesn’t want to take the risk, Europe is afraid and NATO can’t take action without politics’ decision. Commitments of the Budapest memo turned out to be hollow promise. What should we do?
– Really, it’s hard to believe, and it’s even offensive that countries that signed the Budapest memo and guaranteed our sovereignty left Ukraine one-on-one with angry Russia armed to the teeth.
Did everyone forget that huge 43rd army of USSR missile troops located in Ukraine were pointed to USA? This is 1,5 thousand of nuclear warheads, 30 Hiroshimas each. We unmounted this colossal threat under the US guarantees. Nuclear supplies were transferred to the Russian Federation in exchange for the nuclear power station fuel. And what did we get in exchange? Fear of the USA and Germany to provoke Russia! And this is when they provide Donbass with super lethal offensive weapon and kill more and more Ukrainian soldiers.
This gives us the right to not only ask, but to demand lethal weapon provision to deal with Russian aggression, doesn’t it?
I have some lingering hope that we managed to find a solution during President Poroshenko trip to military showroom in the UAE. We have the right to buy everything we need. It’s very expensive, but we have to use all the possibilities.
«We have to prepare for the new burst of military activity from Russia and understand that nobody will fight instead of us.»
Baltic states, which experienced danger more than others, the United Kingdom and the USA will continue to support us, even if their leaders change.
But there is other Europe that is tired of conquest. Big business is losing money which means loss of jobs and voters who is needed to win the election. This fatigue is exactly what Putin wants.
The Russians know how to corrupt different fields in Europe. We see Putin’s team gradually blurs the European consolidation on the Ukrainian question. They have already succeeded in many things, according to the reaction of Hungary, Greece, and even Germany. Walter Steinmeier, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germanystarted talkingabout the need to comply with strategic patience in negotiations on Donbass, and French President Francois Hollande said that France is against Ukraine joining NATO.
West is reconsidering its attitude to Russia. I think, that NATO’s new strategy is about to be made. Russia will face additional economic and military-strategic pressure.
– On 11th of March Russia has totally pulled out of a Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (TCAFU). Will this decision affect the course of military actions in Donbass?
– The Russian Federation made this decision in 2007, and at the same time announced it to the whole the world. It was a signal that the West wasn’t able to decode. A year later, there was a war with Georgia and the annexation of part of its territory. West swallowed this as well. Based on the fact that Russia destroyed the entire world security system in 2014-2015, Western leaders wouldn’t see nothing sensational in this fact, I think.
I see a diabolic signal in this information. Russia started the process of withdrawal from TCAFU just before the war with Georgia. May the fact of final session be an omen of a new stage of Russian aggression against Ukraine?
NATO General SecretaryStoltenberg’s concern on this occasion won’t have any impact on Russia’s behavior. It goes further. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already made some hints about possible withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The West is not capable of developing effective non-military technology to Russia peace enforcement. We have to prepare for the new burst of military activity from Russia and understand that nobody will fight instead of us.
«Only inadequately huge loss of manpower and equipment could stop Putin. And because of this we need lethal and defense weapon.»
– Authorities prepared the plea with the request to send UNO and EU peacemakers to Ukraine. Will this help to suppress aggression from Russia?
– The plea concerning peacekeeping contingent is a good idea, but impossible for quick realization. Even if the decision is positive, peacekeepers will arrive no earlier than November. This is the procedure. The main condition for sending the mission is the agreement of both sides. Russia is demonstratively objects, and considers that bringing of the peacekeeping contingent is the violation of Minsk agreements.
EU Police Mission can arrive faster, though the process of adoption and implementation of the solution is also very complicated. It should also be taken into account that if Putin decides to carve out land corridor to Crimea, no peacekeepers will stop him. Only inadequately huge loss of manpower and equipment could stop Putin. And because of this we need lethal and defense weapon, new tactics and strategy of UkraineArmed Forces.
– If bringing of peacekeeping forces doesn’t lead to the liberation of Donbass, what will happen to this region in the nearest future?
– Russia won’t leave Donbass soon. They spent a lot of effort and money, reclaimed the region in military-operational sense. This is almost fully formed enclave. Until Russia change its political leadership nothing will be solved, I think.
We have to make difficult decision: what kind of education this will be – Donetsk and Luhansk enclave. Let’s see how today, March 17, the Verkhovna Rada will enact the presidential draft law on the special order of the local government in the occupied areas of the two regions.
Being maximalists at heart, we have to become pragmatics, make the maximum of the possible. The situation is dramatic: the boundary between the ‘DPR’– ‘LPR’ and the rest of Ukraine. Even if we admit that for some time fighting stops and peace is established, this won’t be Transnistria. The situation is much more complicated – there is an open border with Russia and other level of conflict, different involvement of world leaders and other core of the problem.
The Russians do not need Donbass. Putin wants it to be Ukrainian land, but as a springboard forconstant blackmail of Ukraine, when it will be necessary to the Russian Federation.
I would advise state leaders to startdeveloping tactics and strategy of our actions in relation to this region.
– Should Ukraine for the sake of the world to listen to the demand of Russia to maintain a non-aligned status?
–We should not return to the non-aligned status, no matter how hard will Russia insist. Putin has claimed long ago that Ukraine isnot even a state. He wants to destroy the country.
Each of our attempt to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic area will be used for a variety of provocations. However, if we amend the constitution at his request and introduce a non-aligned status, for Europeans it will be clear signal: Ukraine has agreed to be in the wake of Russia.
For 23 years we were non-aligned and faced Russian aggression. We have no other choice but to join the collective security system. The only organization in Europe that can ensure it is NATO.
«We have to organize Presidential closed seminar ‘The oligarchs of Ukraine and the war’, and appoint the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau as its secretary.»
– Politicians are constantly arguing whether to introduce martial law or not. What do you think?
– There is no decisive answer. There is a populist level of assessment of pros and cons. Yes, the economy is on a war footing, various restrictions are introduced… Although, the main thing is not the restrictions, but the state of the economy. It’s impossible for army to exist without effective economic base, its reserves willbe quickly depleted.
A lot of people fear the requisition of premises and vehiclesto the state. But we must understand that it is not necessary, temporarily and assumes compensation. According to the law on the military situation, the Parliament decides not at large, but prescribes very clearly what will be done and what is limited.
Imposing martial law is not enough.It is necessary to change a lot in government politics and in society as a whole. To make a decision, it is necessary to conduct an honestdeep analysis of internal resources, with understanding of the fact that the West will help us (diplomatically and economically), but at the same time realizing that Russia will behave even more aggressively.
Overall, the leadership of the country acts correctly in the international sphere. And personally Poroshenko works like the whole Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The only serious misstep is that many embassies are without ambassadors. When the Ambassador is not sent, this means something in the diplomatic language, usually something bad.
Domestically, the mobilization of all resources is needed, taking into account non-peaceful time. The government and the President have to execute homework for correction of domestic social and economic policy.
– What do you mean when you say ‘homework’?
— There is an urgent need to deal with our internal resources. One component of this resources is the consolidation of the nation. Maidan and subsequent events shown that we have a great unimproved potential here. But public consolidation may collapse under the influence of socio-economic problems that already exist in our country.
It is necessary to stop all inklings of normal criticism of power. The government should be open and constantly explain to its citizens what is happening in the country, not only once in 100 days.
The potential of Ukrainians is high, and we have resources to confront Russia with the help of international partners. And to make Putin go home.
We have to organize Presidential closed seminar ‘Oligarchs of Ukraine and the war’, and appoint the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau as its secretary. There won’t be any problems with order-paper anymore.
Now Russia is openly supplying Donbass with military equipment, including heavy and offensive equipment. We understand that they need a passage to Crimea. So, Mariupol is under threat. But I have a feeling that Kharkov Chernigov regions will also be influenced.
– The situation in Kharkiv is rather unstable, but it is calm in Chernihiv. Where information is coming from?
– These are the most frightening points. Chernihiv is not far away from Kyiv, about 200 kilometers.
Kharkov and Odessa remain objects of Russian subversive activity and situation can become more complicated. For further confrontation we need well-trained regular army. And, of course, a single command.
It is necessary to select the military personnel in the army and deselect those who are lazy or incompetent in current conditions. All the new commanders and well-proven volunteers should learn modern military science.
– Some experts suggest dismiss senior military leadership in order to clean the ranks of the traitors. This will help increase the efficiency of the Ukrainian Army?
– Mass dismissal is the easiest way. But in our case this can’t be done, because we act in military environment.
There will be the process of screening of the armed forces and security services. But Russian side will continue searching for ways of recruiting and acquisition of sources at all levels of the military leadership. The main thing is to understand that agents in various areas of the political leadership of the country are the most valuable resource for the enemy, because military officers are always controlled by the politicians.
The hype around Russian agents in the military forcespushed out more dangerous problem from public consciousness – Russian agents of influence in the political sphere. There are many complex issues here. For example, is it possible that the State Security Serviceperforms counter-intelligence work among the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, the President Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers… According to the war logic – yes.
– As an analyst, do you understand the game Putin plays?
– I think, some of our media and politicians for the last two years shouldn’t put Putin simply as hard, but short-sighted leader, who will be soon forced into the corner by sanctions. That was a mistake.
One of the most powerful information and analytical machines in the world operates in Russia. It all works on Putin, as well as his closest team – people with whom he spent more than 15 years (government, law enforcement agencies, the Security Council, the President Administration, parliament). This powerful group is not only unified by their long on-duty bonds, but also mutual sinfulness of starting war with Ukraine.
We can see only the top of Putin’s work, that is why sometimes we think that he acts out off hand. In reality, this machine prepares everything very carefully, analyses, predicts and acts according to plans.
Signs of a strategic special operation plan in Ukraine emerged even before the annexation of the Crimea, where Russia started series of large-scale military exercises near our borders. The first phase of the Crimean operation of Russia almost fully repeated the same operation in the Crimea in 1992-1994.
Putin’s idea is quite clear: exhaust, deplete and crush Ukraine. Lock any possibility of its accession to NATO. To convince the West and, above all, the USA, that Ukraine is historically justified zone of Russian interests, and nobody can change anything in this area without participation of the Russian Federation.
– Economic sanctions imposed by Western countries are not enough for Russian president?
– Putin is not afraid of any economic sanctions. Indeed, they help him to keep the entire political elite in check and improve his ranking. In his view he is a global player, the head of the country with nuclear weapon, economically weak, but geographically large and with a huge armed forces. Putin hints Obama, Merkel and Hollande, that they will be re-elected after a couple of years, and he will be the president as long as he wants. He can wait because he has greater margin of safety and a different scale of time measurement.
His most important argument is nuclear weapon. To demonstrate his insolent confidence, Putin sends bombers and submarines to the NATO countries. He probed the entire perimeter of the Alliance, and even sent strategic bombers with refueling units to the West coast of the United States.
Now it is clear that Ukraine, as a member of the global problem, is no longer a major player. This explains Putin’s behavior in Minsk, long negotiations and agreements that he was not going to sign. As a whole, these agreements were beneficial for the Russian Federation.
–So talks in Minsk were not beneficial for Ukraine, weren’t they?
– The first and second Minsk talks didn’t influence anything in large. This does not mean that they were useless. There are assessments of the tactical and strategic level. For example, the exchange of prisoners is a tactical delight. But in strategic terms Minsk agreement, especially second one, did not give anything to Ukraine, in spite of the positive influence. Our country has demonstrated to the world that we can keep the agreement, but Russia cannot.
Putin has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not care about any agreements. He went for scrapping the security system in Europe, the Budapest Memorandum. Some agreements in Minsk don’t mean anything to him.
–According to your words, Russia has already made attempts to take the Crimea in the early 1990s. How did you manage with the aggression?
– If we hadn’t blocked the military component, operation could result in seizure of the peninsula. It began with the festival of the Kuban Cossacks in Simferopol in 1993. Local political parties have been involved to raise anti-Ukrainian sentiment.
Black Sea Fleet (BSF) of Russia was also involved, which had its own media: radio, TV, newspapers. Military bases around the world are situated locally, fenced, and in Sevastopol, Black Sea Fleet military structure is integrated into civilian life.
Then there was the dissolution of the Supreme Council of Crimea. The President was Yuri Meshkov. Few people know that the government was headed by the Saburov, who arrived from Russia. General Hubenko, who was chief of the Border Troops of Ukraine, helped us to get secretly to the peninsula at low altitude by helicopter. The operation was headed by my deputy Valery Malikov. We managed to occupy the building one night previously.
To some extent, the fact that Yeltsin was the President helped us save the Crimea in the 1990s. Despite the incredible complexity, we managed to divide the Black Sea Fleet without blood. There were very intense episodes, a few times we were close to the use of weapons, but nothing happened.
– In the film ‘Crimea. Way home’ Putin said that the decision to capture the peninsula was made in several days …
– Special op on the annexation of Crimea had been being prepared for a long time, and very carefully during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. No wonder that the mountain master by occupation,Dmitrij Salamatin moved from Moscow to Ukraine and received citizenship in 2005. In 2010 he became a member of the Party of Regions and was immediately appointed as the head of the ‘Ukrspetsexport’ (an abbreviation of ‘Ukrainian Special Export’), in 2011 – the head of state concern ‘Ukroboronprom’ (‘Ukrainian Defense Industry’), and a year later – the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Back in Moscow, Salamatin naturally became advisor of Putin.
His “work”was taken up by Crimea businessman Pavel Lebedev, native of Krasnodar region, who was appointed by Yanukovych asMinister of Defense in December 2012. February 21, 2014, after the execution of the Heavenly Hundred, he escaped from Kiev to Sevastopol and six days remained in the status of Minister with full powers and authority. At this time, from 23 to 27 of February, there was a forcible change of power in Sevastopol and began the visible part of a special operation of annexation of Crimea by Russia.
To understand the preparation for theannexation of Crimea lets consider one more appointment. In summer 2012 Yanukovych has appointed the former commander of a separate brigade of marines, Yuri Ilyin, as the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, and a year later awarded him the rank of Admiral. In February 19, 2014, the day before the execution of the Heavenly Hundred, Yanukovych appointed him as a Chief of General Staff – Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. His signature is on the plan to ensure a state of emergency in the country. You can find this on the Internet. Ilyin also escapedto Crimea, and like Minister of Defense Lebedev, remained in Sevastopol till 28th of Februaryin the status of Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
These facts are small component of the long-term preparation for the annexation of Crimea. So-called Kharkiv agreements dated April 2010, without a doubt, were part of this diabolical plan. Remember the ratification of the agreement in the Verkhovna Rada, who provided it and how. This decision legitimized the Russian Black Sea Fleet stay in Ukraine until 2047 and gave the right to complete modernization of the entire infrastructure and navy weapons. As you know, immediately after the annexation of Crimea Russia denounced the agreement.
All eventsduring 2014-2015 brings us to an important conclusions. First of them: the West (the United States, Europe, NATO) wasn’t ready for that kind of behavior of Russia in the person of Putin.
Second: the Ukrainians were naive and too trustful, believing that Russian aggression can be stopped with the help of Budapest Memorandum. There was an expectation that Europe and America can affect the situation so severely, that it will be possible to block Russia. Did not work out.
Third: unpleasant, but valuable conclusion that we should turn ourselves in.
And finally, there is no fraternal people. Russians can kill us. There are a lot of good people in Russia who support Ukraine. But this does not affect the behavior of Putin.
If we repeatedly ensured that Russian military forces and mercenaries can kill in our soldiers, and Russian people support this, and the West cannot resist this effectively (although trying), so in the nearest future we will have a great neighbor-enemy. And all of us, without exception, must learn to live with this neighbor.