Code: 1166819 A

The Russians have engaged in a variety of "active measures" directed against Ukraine and Ukrainian interests around the world.

Lubomyr Yaroslav Luciuk is a Canadian academic and author of books and articles in the field of political geography and Ukrainian history. He is currently a full professor at the Royal Military College of Canada. Below is ILNA's interview with this authentic analyst about recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

 

ILNA: What is the role of the NATO, EU, and the United States in tensions between Russia and Ukraine?

Russian forces invaded Ukraine in early 2014, illegally occupying Ukraine's Crimea and extensively damaging some of Ukraine's eastern oblasts, where the Russian military continues to engage in an unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. Ukraine is a sovereign state and has every right to negotiate bilateral or multilateral treaties or join in any alliance structures it wants to. The Russian 'Federation' has absolutely no role to play in deciding whether or not Ukraine elects to join the EU, NATO, or any other international body. Fortunately, the EU, NATO, and the rest of the free world appreciate that Ukraine is today fighting a "just war," a defensive war, against the imperial project of the KGB man in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

 

ILNA: Will these tensions lead to war? In your opinion what is the likelihood of an outbreak of war?

If Mr. Putin launches a further invasion of Ukrainian territory, which I do not believe he will, the Russians will suffer significant losses since Ukraine is now (unlike in 2014) prepared and has a well trained and reasonably well equipped military that has become "battle-hardened" by having had to fight against Russian forces for some 7 years. Talk about a "separatist" movement in eastern Ukraine is nonsense - there was no insurrection or violence in eastern Ukraine before the Russian forces arrived and most certainly those "separatists" (who are really mercenaries, local misfits, criminals, and the like) would definitely not have been in possession of the kind of military hardware that they somehow managed to "find" and use against Ukrainian forces responding to this attack. We need to see the situation in eastern Ukraine as it is - the result of an unprovoked Russian attack against a sovereign state in Europe.

 

ILNA: Some people believe that the use of Turkish-made drones by Azerbaijan in the recent Azerbaijan and Armenia war changed the military situation in favor of Azerbaijan. Doing the same thing by Ukraine (buying drones from Turkey) is the main reason for recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine?

Ukraine acquired Turkish drones and used them only in a defensive manner after Russian artillery units began bombarding Ukrainian soil. The Russians were warned and told to cease but they ignored that warning and continued to provocatively engage in the shelling of Ukrainian positions. OSCE observers confirmed that the Russian side began the bombardment, were contacted, and asked to cease and desist, but continued. Ukraine then deployed a drone, taking appropriate steps to neutralize the threat to Ukrainian civilians, soldiers, and property. If the Russian side had not begun the bombardment it would not have been responded to. The Ukrainian side has continued to show remarkable restraint in the face of Russian 'Federation' provocations. Keep in mind that Russian 'Federation' troops are occupying Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian forces did not invade the Russian 'Federation', nor does Ukraine have any territorial claims against the so-called Russian 'Federation.'

 

ILNA: Some consider Turkey as the main player behind the Black sea region’s tensions and they believe that Turkey creates these tensions to put pressure on Russia. In your opinion, what are the implications of Turkey’s support of Ukraine on the S-400 missile system deal and Turk stream projects?

Turkey has its own interests in the Black Sea region and, understandably, is concerned over Russian aggression against other Black Sea states (not just Ukraine but Georgia, for example). Russian forces invaded Georgia in 2008, as you know, and Russian forces continue to occupy Georgian territory. Turkey is only responding to Russian aggression against its neighbors. I see no evidence of Turkey being behind the geopolitical tensions in the region - again, Turkey has not conquered and retained the land of any of its neighbors. The same cannot be said for the Russians. They seem bent on reconstituting a "Greater Russia" - something the civilized world doesn't need, nor do any of Russia's neighbors want (probably not even Belarus).

 

ILNA: Some people believe that Russia is exaggerating the tensions with Ukraine so that it can use it as a pressure lever against anti-Russian sanctions imposed on itself by the west. What is your opinion on this? 

It is incorrect to speak of "tensions" when what is happening is a continuing war against Ukraine. See #1 above. Russian forces invaded a sovereign state, have defied all attempts to reach a peace agreement that would see their forces withdraw from Ukrainian lands. They staged a bogus referendum in Crimea to justify their illegal annexation of that territory (much like Saddam Hussein did in Kuwait), and have continued indulging in hostile, provocative, and violent measures aimed at Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine has returned (since 1991) to its rightful place in Europe and has become, over the past 30 years of its (renewed) independence, a liberal-democratic state, which, while not without its faults, is remarkably different from Soviet-era Ukraine. Today's Ukrainians have no interest in any "Eurasian" polity of the sort that Putin and his confederates proclaim as their goal and Ukrainians reject the imperial project (a settler-colonial one at that) of Moscow. Ukrainians, simply put, are not Russians and have no desire to be part of a reconstructed Russian Empire. Civilized countries, and those with rich historical traditions like Persia/Iran, should understand that. Who wants to be included into someone else's imperial project?

 

ILNA: What is your evaluation of an unsuccessful military coup in Ukraine, possible Russian involvement, and Russia’s denial of playing any role in it?  

The Russians have engaged in a variety of "active measures" directed against Ukraine and Ukrainian interests around the world. I have no information about the alleged coup but it is clear that Russian agents and operatives have been involved in the suppression of a free media and democratic movements inside their 'Federation' and have conducted operations abroad, including the assassination of people deemed hostile to Russian interests. The Russian Federation of today is not only a failed state but a rogue state. I have often said that I hope the Russians will finally have a genuine "Russian Revolution" and free themselves from the tyranny of those who have oppressed them, from the time of the Tsars to the Soviets to the current crooks in the Kremlin. 

 

ILNA: Russia’s intelligence agency recently released an evaluation that the situation in the region is similar to 2008 which will lead to a war between Georgia and Russia. What is your opinion on this matter?

Russian reports do not constitute credible intelligence, they tend to be self-serving propaganda assessments used to justify revanchism and imperialism. At the (welcome) collapse of the Soviet empire, in 1991, the states that emerged from the USSR all agreed that the borders they inherited might not be perfect but would be respected - that is they accepted as inviolate the borders as they were in 1991. Since then only the Russian 'Federation' has undermined that agreement, invading and occupying Ukrainian and Georgian lands and threatening other states (e.g. Estonia, Lithuanian and Latvia, Moldavia) by propagating false narratives about how "Russian minorities" in those countries have allegedly be oppressed. That is, of course, fake news since all of those countries do not prevent anyone from leaving - and yet, despite the alleged "discrimination" that "Russian minorities" are suffering there very, very few people from anywhere seem interested in moving to Mr. Putin's Russia. Why would that be? Why do people flee Belarus (Mr. Putin's client state) or, if they have a chance, from the Russian Federation? Why are so many Russians parking their wealth abroad? Why, by the way, has no one wondered about just how Mr. Putin became a billionaire (on his KGB pension and president for perpetuity salary? Really?). The Russians who can afford it (a minority) prefer to live or at least spend a lot of time outside of Russian. I don't hear or read very much about anyone trying to get in to stay.

Interview by: Ardavan Malekpour

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