This man had predicted and disrupted Russia's plans during the conflict with Tuzla Island. Then his analytical forecast with regard to the Russian aggression against Georgia had been realized. Today we are talking with Vasyliy Laptyichuk about the Donbass and Ukraine, the possibility of opening the "Belarusian Front" and the interest of Russia in escalating the conflict with Kyiv in general.
- "West 2017" Russian-Belarusian military exercises will be held in Belarus at the end of September. How can they threaten Ukraine?
- They will not threaten us in the short and medium term. The Russian army is not going to attack Ukraine from Belarus for at least two reasons, and one of them is connected with the incomplete integration of Belarus (both the territory and its military structures) into the relevant structures of the Russian Federation. But, if you look at the perspective, I believe that, gradually seizing Belarus, Russia prepares for a possible next, more global and strategic stage - this is the resolution of the Ukrainian problem.
One way or another, Russia will not stop. Russians believe that Ukraine's independence is a deadly threat to the existence of the Russian Federation, what is the reason for this war. We should state today that all these seizures of the Crimea and the Donbass are not related to the fact that Russians needed to "reshape" a piece of Ukraine for themselves. Of course, this is also important, but this is not the goal of the Russian Federation. And Russia's goal is to control the territory of Ukraine, or the most of it.
Russia (at a certain level it did not hide it) had earlier planned to adapt Ukraine as part of the Russian Federation or a very allied state, but without 6-8 oblasts of Western Ukraine, which, they believe, "trouble" the rest of our country. Therefore, during the conflict in the Crimea, Russians offered Poles, Romanians and Hungarians to divide Ukraine from the mouth of Zhirinovsky and some other politicians, via diplomatic channels. This was sounded irresponsibly to the modern person, but such propositions were, and they were voiced even at the official level.
- Does Russia need Belarus for this? Are there any signs that Russia will take the accession of Belarus in hand?
- Yes, there are. I would say that these are not signs, but a process. In 1997, an agreement was signed between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus on the creation of a unified state. According to the signs, this was to be a confederation. But, in fact, it was a federation, or a union state similar to the USSR, because typical confederations do not have such deep integration which was provided for by this union treaty. This is not only a joint defence, customs, economic and foreign economic policy, but also financial, humanitarian and cultural cooperation. That is, everything is affected: language, culture, history, and scientific development. Thus, we are not talking about creating a confederation, as it was stated, but I would analyze this from the point of view of merger of Russia and Belarus just on the basis of this treaty.
After this agreement, Lukashenko put his own hotel demands, afraiding of such a quick merger, but Russians confidently urge him on, and 60% of all trade of Belarus is tied up in Russia today. Actually, Belarus lives by the fact that Russia sells it oil a little cheaper. Therefore, economically, culturally, and humanitarianly, Minsk is very dependent on Russia. Since 2010, the President of Belarus heads this Union State, he has the post of head of the highest state council, and this is the highest post in this quasi-confederate state. And Putin is the head of the council of ministers.
- But does this prevent Belarus from being our main military partner? Especially at the beginning of the war.
- Until June 22, 1941, the USSR was Germany's first ally, and even after the outbreak of war, by inertia, there were echelons with bread and metal. An alliance during the wars, when there is a big boa which wants to swallow both, is a very relative category, because the Russian Federation is not a democratic state, it is a union of political liars. Russia as a state is constantly lying. It signs a non-aggression pact before the attack. It must be perceived as a hypocritical state formation which always prepares some kind of dirty trick. And they call it a national interest or a military cunning. Therefore, if the Russian Federation integrates Belarus we will get the Russian army, reinforced by the Belarusian, not only from the east, but also from the north.
- Will we get it or have already got it?
- They have a confederate army. If Russia enters the war, Belarus automatically becomes a belligerent party. If the Russian Federation officially announces war to Ukraine tomorrow, the Belarusian army, according to the current legislation, also passes into a state of war with Ukraine. And it does not depend on someone's will, it comes from official documents and agreements between Russia and Belarus.
- Do these agreements work?
- In the case of the Russian Federation, nothing works except its national interests and the possibility of their implementation. A treaty of friendship was signed with Ukraine as well and our borders were recognized, but the Crimea was annexed after that.
The Belarusian army will not shy away from the war with Ukraine, only the Belarusian society can do it. The Belarusian army resembles today the Crimean contingent of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the humanitarian sense, which is Russian-speaking, and enviously looks at a higher salary in the Russian Federation. Thus, I think that overwhelming majority of the Belarusian army reacted positively to the fact that it becomes part of a large Russian army.
- Then, why do most of fuel and lubricants continue to be delivered in Ukraine by Russia and Belarus?
- Russia does not yet consider Ukraine as a territory that will become a ruin. They view Ukraine as the future part of its large territory or some kind of confederal state. Therefore, they are still protecting Ukraine as their future property and people who will be able to fight with the Poles, Lithuanians and so on in the future.
Russia still has an ambiguous attitude towards Ukraine. On the one hand, we are an enemy state for them, which must be broken. On the other hand, this is the territory where it is necessary to preserve the nuclear power plant, the military-industrial complex and to prevent NATO from interfering. After all, if Russia admits a ruin in Ukraine, if, for example, a nuclear power plant explodes or gas stops reaching Germany because of the pipes destruction, then, of course, NATO will have to introduce an unmanned zone over Ukraine and provide us with such assistance which would be enough to clean out the territory of Ukraine on land – this is in case of the conflict development
Therefore, Russia has no benefit from the conflict development in Ukraine today. Therefore, it is still bypassing it from Belarus and is engaged in establishing international contacts. Putin as a manager makes decisions based on the data of those services he trusts - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Intelligence and the FSB. He makes decisions on the basis of these forecasts. They have already deceived him with Novorossia, saying that 8 oblasts of Ukraine are ready to welcome him. That was their overestimation, because they see there Russian-speaking people, smiling at them. They believe that if they are not perceived as an enemy, they are ready to back down and recognize them. This is their misconception of Ukraine, and it was the reason for Putin's half-defeat on his way to Kyiv.
- Do you think that Putin has no interest in escalating the conflict now?
- Putin has no interest in escalating the conflict in Ukraine now. And there will be no escalation in the autumn as well. Otherwise, this war will end with an accident at the nuclear power plant, the blocking of gas to Europe and the resolute actions of NATO in the territory of Ukraine, as they did it in the Balkans and Libya without sanctions of the UN Security Council. This will already be a question of the survival of the European contingent, taking into account millions of refugees from Ukraine and nuclear plants that will cover half of Europe with nuclear fog. Therefore, any military development of events in the territory of Ukraine threatens us with destruction, casualties and environmental losses, but the Russian Federation is also threatened with defeat in Ukraine and the subsequent collapse of the state, because the horde after the defeat always collapses.
- So maybe the West is just interested in such a scenario?
- The West is not interested in the collapse of Russia. It believes that Putin is needed to be changed and everything will be fine.
- Once upon a time, the West was afraid that several nuclear states would be formed with the collapse of the USSR, but as a result, nothing terrible had happened…
- The West lives within the normative acts, there are no decisions of kings and presidents, as in the Russian Federation. There are congresses, senates and parliaments. Decisions that are consistent with international law are very judiciously made in democratic countries, so we should not expect any sharp and adventurous movements from foreigners. They do not need it, because they are engaged in their own affairs: the development of GDP and the standard of living, the adaptation of refugees and so on. A change in the geopolitical situation and the destruction of one of the world's largest countries is not part of their sphere of interest. For the West, there are the Minsk agreements, which were signed, among others, by a citizen of Ukraine, although this is an ordinary paper without signs of international law. Poroshenko just signed it and promised to change the Constitution of Ukraine, territorial structure and violate our own sovereignty, and now they demand implementing this. What difference does it make to the same Germans, where will these Russian-speakers create a border between themselves? Minsk agreements are the surrender of Ukraine on the terms of the Russian Federation. But the French or the Germans are interested only in stability.
- Can we cope without the West? Is there an alternative to the Minsk agreements?
- There is only one alternative - to fulfill international and national law in the field of ensuring external security. There is an international convention giving the definition of armed aggression, there is the Law of Ukraine "On Defence", where signs of war are listed - port blocking, seizure of ships, sending mercenaries, shelling, regular troops and annexation of the territory. Even if there were not a single soldier or mercenary on the territory of Ukraine, no blockage of ships and so on, Russia has already documented the fact of armed aggression against Ukraine. That is, Russia announced the war to Ukraine by annexing its territory - this is in accordance with the international definition of military aggression and national law.
- But after all, Russia did not formally announce the war to Ukraine.
- Therefore, international law has a document titled "Convention on the definition of military aggression", which says that annexation is the peak of aggression. And there is nothing left to do but to free the territory or surrender. Ukraine chose the second option, although it claims about some courts and so on. But there is not a single court in the world that could judge Russia now.
- To liberate the Crimea does not mean to provoke Russia's attack on the entire territory of Ukraine?
- This offensive is already taking place in the Crimea and in the East of Ukraine.
- The other day I was informed that the number of Russian servicemen in Donetsk has increased recently. What is that supposed to mean?
- Russian military intelligence reports that Ukraine is getting ready for a possible liberation, so Russia decided to increase their number for ensuring national interests in the territories of the "DNR" and "LNR". They are not going to attack, they just react flexibly to a possible threat from Ukraine. And they will not back down, no sanctions will stop them.
- But how it is possible to influence this process and to liberate at least the Donbass, where people are dying?
- The only way to liberate the occupied territories is the capitulation of Russia to Ukraine and the international community.
- How realistic is it now?
- It would be realistic if we considered this issue in accordance with international law and the UN Charter: if there is an aggressor state and the victim state, the legislation claims the aggressor as aggressor, introducing martial law, full or partial mobilization, the state of war and reports the UN that Russia is an aggressor. After that, the seventh section of the UN Charter is used, where it is said that all the UN member states provide the maximum economic, military, technical, material assistance and so on to the victim of armed aggression. But there is another part of this seventh section, where it is said that in the case of armed aggression against a UN member, all members of the United Nations take economic, diplomatic and other measures to restrict and pressure the aggressor state right up to the blockade and embargo.
- Were there cases when the UN charter was implemented in this way?
- In 1989 in Kuwait. This was approved by the UN Security Council, including the USSR. Then the aggressor (Iraq) was given an ultimatum, which was ignored. Iraq was defeated in Kuwait and then was finished off on its own territory.
- But Russia is in the UN Security Council and can block any such decision.
- There is a provision that the participant in the conflict does not take part in voting on this issue. But Ukraine has not yet legally recognized Russia as a party to the conflict despite documenting the aggression in the Russian Constitution.
- Why has not Ukraine done it yet?
- Perhaps this is due to the President’s moral and business qualities, reluctance to conflict, because you can lose everything. He is a businessman who earns money for his family. And he can lose everything, because the Russians will punish him and so on. Obviously, someone drew a red line, so that this option cannot be used.
- Maybe our Western partners drew this red line?
- That is right. Thus, the Russian Federation, the EU and the political leadership of Ukraine are allies in terms of changing the territorial structure of Ukraine and defeating its sovereignty, because everyone is interested in the Minsk agreements that provide for Russia's control over the territory of Ukraine through changes in the Constitution. And the leadership of Ukraine owes to Russia, the EU, and International Monetary Fund. The only one to whom this leadership is not obliged is the law of Ukraine and Ukrainians who have chosen it.
- Can we survive without international loans?
- We can. According to independent international experts from Ukraine, 11-12 billion dollars are exported under the existing law on double taxation. And this is many times more than all IMF loans. In fact, Ukraine has a lot of money, but since the days of Leonid Kuchma, all the profits are being exported abroad. This is an occupation power in a certain sense, which every day makes profit from Ukraine. And the liberation of the territory is not its interests, because this is a risk for future profits.
- According to your forecasts, when can the Donbass be liberated?
- There are two scenarios. The first is the scenario of the Maidan. As we know, Yatseniuk and Poroshenko hired actors who, from morning till night, called to stand peacefully while they were negotiating with Yanukovych. But at some point people could not stand it and went on the offensive. Approximately the same, but with less probability, can happen in the East, if any military unit, unable to withstand the senseless patience and shelling from heavy equipment, will respond in return. Someone will go on the offensive, others will support that, and the situation can get out of the control of the General Staff and the President of Ukraine. Naturally, this fight will end with destruction, loss of part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, civilians, but with an indispensable victory. If the Ukrainian army is drawn into the war, it will win on its territory. It is impossible to defeat the army of the 40 million country with almost unanimous support of the Armed Forces by the overwhelming majority of citizens in their own territory, with 100% moral, political, and then military-technical support from the West.
And the West, in case Ukraine starts to fight, will put pressure on Russia. It presses on Ukraine while Ukraine does not fight. But as soon as it is impossible to stop Ukraine, the West will be forced to press Russia on the territory of Ukraine, in order to put an end to it.
And the second option is that the Ukrainian people will choose a normal and conscientious president, and then the law of Ukraine on defence will be finally used with the introduction of martial law, the visa regime with the aggressor, internment of Russian citizens.
- We are gradually getting to this. I mean the introduction of biometric control on the border with Russia.
- Yes, and this is the only positive thing. The introduction of biometric control with the Russian Federation is just a slap in the face of Russia. We can say that the Ukrainian leadership is getting out of Russia's control. This is definitely a movement in a positive direction, but, given the necessary list of measures, 3.5 years ago this decision could only be a detail. In fact, it is necessary to undertake more aggressive and adequate measures, but since nothing is being done, even this decision can be considered a victory.
Interviewed by Serhiy Harmash, OstroV