"The war will definitely end with our victory. It won't be any other way around," Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, is convinced.
In an interview with Ukrinform, he talked about Ukraine's fight against the Russian Federation, the participation in the war of Russian agents and representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a partial change in Russia's plans for a coup d'état in Moldova, work on a new version of the Strategy for the Deoccupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and also assessed statements of the Russian president on plans to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.
The National Security and Defense Council is working on an updated version of the strategy for the de-occupation of Crimea
- The other day you published the 12 steps of the deoccupation of Crimea and announced a new edition of the Strategy for the Deoccupation of Crimea. At what stage of development is this document now? When could it be presented?
- Let's put legal accents. First of all, we have the Strategy for Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, adopted by a decision of the National Security and Defense Council in 2021. This document was developed taking into account the events until February 23, 2022.
It is clear that a lot has changed since February 24, 2022. We were approached by the Representation of the President of Ukraine for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and we appealed to all competent authorities and public expert centers with a request to submit their proposals on the issue of updating the Strategy. We are now gathering opinions on what changes to make to the Strategy approved in March 2021. The decision will be adopted by voting at the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council before the Strategy is approved by the Decree of the President of Ukraine.
The 12 points that I posted on Facebook are my tentative thoughts on the urgent issues of the Crimea deoccupation. This is not yet a legal document.
- Which way of the Crimea deoccupation do you consider to be the most realistic: military or diplomatic?
- Currently, there is an understanding that this path can be both military and diplomatic. Everything depends on the behavior of the terrorist state that seized part of the Ukrainian territory.
Of course, we would really like to pursue the diplomatic way to avoid victims and tragedies due to these killings. This is a priority. However, if the diplomatic way doesn’t work, if the terrorist state doesn’t want to pull from Ukraine voluntarily, we have the right to develop our vision regarding our further way to liberate our territory.
- And in what way should the deoccupation of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including their regional centers, take place?
- The hot phase of the war is going on there now. If it has not yet started in Crimea, the hot phase of liberation continues in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
- Does that mean there is no need to employ diplomatic mechanisms for the full deoccupation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions?
- And how do you imagine using diplomacy amid such an intense war?
- Perhaps in the future perspective?
- If someone wants to have our president politically assassinated, they can propose it. The Russian Federation did not remove the task of removing Volodymyr Zelensky from the agenda. They did not succeed in physically liquidating the head of the Ukrainian state, so now they will try to engage in his “political liquidation.”
A lot of processes taking place on the territory of Ukraine must be carefully analyzed from this perspective. Russia seeks political liquidation of our President because he has shown and proved to the whole world that he is the leader of our nation, the leader of our country. The Russians are definitely not happy with it. Volodymyr Zelensky demonstrates incomparable humanity, decency, and many other virtues, and the president of the Russian Federation is the world’s No.1 terrorist in a bunker. Imagine how annoying that would be for them.
- Has Russia finally given up on idea of the physical elimination of Volodymyr Zelensky?
- There was a hot period late February - early March last year. We’re not observing this now but the threat to the president always exists. Therefore, the relevant agencies work out all these issues as they should.
RUSSIA DISPOSES OF CONVICTS AND NATIVES OF COLONIZED TERRITORIES
- Ukrainian defense forces eliminate hundreds of Russian invaders on a daily basis. The number of Russian soldiers killed already exceeds 176,000 (as of April 5). And how many are currently fighting on the territory of Ukraine?
- Unfortunately, there are more of them than we would like. They crawl on like cockroaches. They are sent from all cities across Russia. Now it’s mostly those who used to be behind bars are now being "disposed of". The "disposal" of natives of territories colonized by Russia - Tuvans, Yakuts, Buryats, and other occupied peoples - is also ongoing. Very few, almost no residents of Moscow or St. Petersburg. They are not sent to the front because they are worried about the possibility of a rebellion.
- Can we talk about the estimated number of Russian soldiers currently fighting on the territory of Ukraine?
- We know their exact number, but I can’t name it.
WE’RE HOLDING ON TO BAKHMUT BECAUSE THIS IS OUR LAND
- The fiercest battles have long been going on in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka, Bilohorivka... What is the situation there now?
- The situation at the front is always difficult. There isn’t a time when the situation isn’t difficult there. This is the front line after all. This is war. Unfortunately, people die there every day. These are the consequences of this war. The situation is difficult not only in the settlements you mentioned. We are at war with the Russian Federation. War is always difficult because each death is always a tragedy for the whole country, for the family whose loved one dies.
- On the eve of our interview, there were many reports about the alleged partial capture of Bakhmut by Wagner Group mercenaries, in particular, the city administration building. How would you comment on these reports?
- Bakhmut is a district center. On part of the territory, there are our troops, on part of the territory, there are enemy troops. (Wanger Group leader Yevgeny - ed.) Prigozhin's statement claiming that they captured the town “center” is false.
As we speak, battles are raging in Bakhmut. We’re holding on to Bakhmut because it is our land. If we start surrendering our land, we will be pushed toward the borders in Western Ukraine. Our duty is to defend our country. Our military determines the strategy and tactics of the liberation and defense of certain settlements.
- As for other hostility zones...
- It does not matter what zones we will talk about. We are monitoring the situation regarding all enemy troops in various areas. If certain units of Russian terrorist groups appear somewhere, our military will surely receive information from Ukrainian intelligence, from our partners, and from other sources. After that, a decision is made.
The war continues throughout the territory of our country. We do not currently have war-free territories. The enemy is insidious. The enemy does not take into account any international legal acts. That’s despite the fact that Russia currently chairs the UN Security Council, which in itself is complete and utter absurdity. In general, the world has now moved into the theater of absurdity. A terrorist country that is killing children is a member of the United Nations Security Council, and it also chairs it…
Unfortunately, no one is immune to the consequences of this war. They destroy civilian infrastructure, they can launch their bombs and shells at any populace. They fly planes which launch long-range missiles. This used to happen more often, now it’s not as frequent but still we are not safe.
Our military records everything. Intelligence spots everything. The military makes decisions according to the circumstances that exist as of today. It is difficult for me to say what happens tomorrow. I can tell what happened yesterday and what happened today.
If the enemy makes certain decisions, we will definitely be aware of that because our intelligence and other agencies are working, getting information and passing it on to the military. The military makes appropriate decisions so that the absolute majority of citizens feel safe. But considering the war, we cannot ensure 100% security. This is a difficult task for us.
STATEMENTS BY PUTIN ON PLACING NUKES IN BELARUS ARE BLACKMAIL OF EUROPE AND NATO
- How do you evaluate the statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin on plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus?
- This is blackmailing Europe, blackmailing NATO allies. There are certain international obligations. If Russia completely pulls from all international obligations, the world should react to such actions in a completely different way.
The transfer of nuclear weapons to the territory of another country is unacceptable from the point of view of international law and international processes. Of course, Russia believes that it has its own internal law. They have even passed legislation claiming that domestic laws take precedence over international law. But we are not seeing an adequate reaction on the part of the international community to this. When people are killed en masse, the reaction must be instantaneous...
RUSSIA PARTIALLY ALTERED ITS PLANS FOR THE MOLDOVA COUP
- In February, reports of Russia's plans to carry out a coup d'état in Moldova were actively circulated. Now there is informational silence around this topic. Has the Russian Federation given up on its intentions?
- Thanks to Ukrainian intelligence, the issue gained publicity. Russia partially altered its plans. However, we are more than sure that they will not change their general plan. The same aggressive policy is observed toward Moldova as it is toward Ukraine. But there is a so-called attempt at a "quiet" occupation, and here we see an attempt at occupation by force. It should be understood that the Russian Federation is an imperial nation that seeks to capture, capture, and capture again.
- If the coup in Moldova does happen, how will it affect the Russo-Ukrainian war?
- First of all, I’d really like this not to happen. Secondly, the world needs to respond to Russia-instigated coups, often carried out in certain territories. The world should put a stop to these experiments Russia has been doing. Had the world reacted in a timely manner, we would not have been in a situation of war today.
THERE WERE MANY REPRESENTATIVES OF RUSSIA’S INTELLIGENCE IN THE UOC MP
- In parallel lines with the fight against the external enemy, it is necessary to fight against the internal one. Unfortunately, one of the most powerful enemy networks in Ukraine hid behind religion. Throughout the full-scale war, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) has ultimately proved that it works for Russia. What can Ukraine do about this religious organization?
- Russia has been influencing Ukraine not only through religious organizations but also through its network of human assets, which, unfortunately, continues to meddle. The Security Service of Ukraine is fighting this, counterintelligence is engaged in identifying persons who help Russia.
As for the Moscow church, I’d like to divide the issue into two parts. We have no issues with religion. People are free to believe in the Lord, Allah, or whatever god they wish.
We have issues with an institution that is not registered in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. Do you want to go and pray somewhere? Go and pray. But institutions that are not properly registered on the territory of Ukraine cannot operate here.
In addition, there were many representatives of the so-called Russian intelligence community in this institution. We have already exchanged some of them for our prisoners of war. These are facts that the Ukrainian community must be aware of.
Regarding the ownership of religious objects. Is this your property? If it is, you can operate it however you wish. And the state has the right to operate its property as it deems necessary, too. For example, if we are talking about the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, it is a nature reserve. It is subordinate to the relevant government body. If some cleric decided it was his private property, it's not the case at all.
- Is an ultimate ban on the activities of the UOC MP possible? As an option, perhaps by the decision of the National Security Council and corresponding presidential decree…
- In Ukraine, we have our legislation. If you run an organization, you must comply with our laws and have the appropriate registration. If the regulatory and legal documents of your organization do not comply with the laws of Ukraine there is no need for NSDC decisions or presidential decrees. This organization is beyond the legal framework. Re-register if you and then go about your business. If you have a direct relationship with Moscow, with Gundyaev (Kyril Gundyaev, a primate of the Russian Orthodox Church – ed.), with those people who call for the killing of our citizens, if you cooperate with them... And if they previously denied this fact, now the reaction of the pro-Moscow priests and the all those evil people of Moscow testifies to the fact that the UOC MP are Moscow’s envoys.
THE NUMBER OF MISSILES IN RUSSIA DECREASED TO THE CRITICAL LEVEL
- In the last few months, we’ve been observing Russia launching significantly fewer missiles and drones during massive strikes at the territory of Ukraine. Does this indicate that their stocks have significantly decreased?
- We monitor the number of missiles located on Russian territory. It really dropped to the most critical level. But this doesn’t mean that the threat is gone. Any missile strike that kills our citizens and destroys infrastructure is a tragedy.
- Does Russia have the opportunity to replenish these stocks?
- Not in the amount they’d like.
- Which countries send military aid to Russia?
- Now we will be proving that Russia has been receiving drones from Iran. They cooperate and they don’t hide it.
- And besides Iran?
- We currently have no facts as regards other countries.
- In general, what is the situation of Russia’s economic and military capabilities? For how much longer will they have sufficient resources to wage their war of aggression against Ukraine?
- It’s hard to say. I don't think you can find an answer to this question.
THE WAR WILL DEFINITELY END WITH UKRAINE’S VICTORY
- How do you see the end of the Russo-Ukrainian war? What will the geopolitical map of the world look like after that?
- The war will definitely end with our victory. It won't be any other way around.
After the war, new alliances will emerge. Preparations for the creation of such unions are now underway. The world will be a completely different place. The world has started to change since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then it became different. And after this war, it will be completely different. There will be a totally different life. The life that existed before February 24, 2022, will no longer exist.
Angelina Strashkulych, Kyiv
Photo: Ruslan Kaniuka