Mykola Nazarov: Crimea no longer sacred Russian territory for West
Russia's peace proposal is a diplomatic game
INTERVIEWS 06 December 2022 - 10:20
Our today's interlocutor is Mykola Nazarov, Candidate of Political Science, and head of the Center for Regional Security Studies at Sumy State University. In the meantime, many interesting events are taking place on the Ukrainian front, and Mr. Nazarov kindly agreed to answer a few questions on the topic of the day.
- Do you think the strengthening of Russia's positions on the left bank of the Dnieper is for a long time? I mean the strengthening of manpower and the construction of fortifications. After all, mobilized and troops withdrawn from Kherson are being transferred there. How much will this slow down the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
- I believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will continue the counteroffensive and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will be forced to leave the left bank of the Dnieper. As in the case of Kherson, these will not be head-on attacks with huge losses, this will be a search for a “window of opportunity” to force the enemy to leave the territory. High-precision GMLRS projectiles allow you to accurately hit enemy command posts and bases and destroy equipment. Consequently, a bet will be made on squeezing the enemy through the inability to hold positions anymore.
- For a long time, there has been an opinion in the expert community that the West is not interested in a quick victory for Ukraine at the front and that the task of the West is to exhaust Russia as much as possible both militarily and economically. And it is precisely with this tactic that the dosed supply of weapons to Ukraine is connected, including the lack of deliveries of Soviet-made aviation equipment that are in service with the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. Do you support this opinion?
- I have already said in previous interviews that the West is not homogeneous in this matter, this is fundamental. If we were talking about the United States, then their strategic line is to weaken the Russian Federation as an ally of China. Of course, for the United States, a quick defeat of the Russian Federation is unprofitable, and they rely on the stagnation of the Russian Federation and its focus on internal problems. It is also important for the States not to go into direct confrontation with the Russian Federation, and to clearly dose military support to Ukraine so as not to cross their “red lines”. The countries of conditional "old Europe" in general share this approach - the defeat of the Russian Federation for France and Germany is unacceptable, but the loss of Ukraine is equally unacceptable for them. For "old Europe" it is important to stop the advance of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, but then, if possible, restore economic relations with Russia. But for the countries of Eastern Europe (Poland, the Baltic countries), the defeat of the Russian Federation, the full-fledged victory of Ukraine is important. Because only this scenario can contribute to ensuring the national security of these countries. It is for this reason that we see unprecedented support from Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and calls for allies to support Ukraine more resolutely.
- There is also a version of the artificial prolongation of hostilities due to uncertainty in the Western community about whether it is worth pushing Russian troops out of Crimea, as this could lead to a further escalation of the conflict with unpredictable consequences. But I will ask you, as a military expert, whether Ukraine is militarily ready for such a serious conquest as Crimea, taking into account the Black Sea Fleet missile carriers and several airfields, as well as the presence of the Crimean bridge as a way to supply troops?
- In the statements of European politicians and experts, I increasingly stress the position that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and should be returned to Ukraine. These statements became more frequent after the military successes of Ukraine - the Kharkiv and Kherson operations. I believe that in the picture of the world of Western politicians, Crimea has ceased to be a sacred territory for the Russian Federation, which cannot be talked about, and the peninsula is no different from other occupied territories. For Ukraine, such an understanding in the West is very important - Crimea should be in the same package with other occupied territories in order to return to Ukraine.
From a military point of view, Ukraine is ready for such an operation, but this does not mean that Crimea will return by military means. Many expected the battle for Kherson with huge losses and destruction, but in the end, the Russian troops were forced to retreat under certain conditions. I believe that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is developing different strategies for the de-occupation of Crimea and will rely on the one where there will be the least losses for personnel. You should not discard such an option as an international conference and agreements on the status of Crimea, Türkiye will most likely be a supporter of this idea.
- It doesn't look like Russia is going to start peace talks on Ukraine's terms. On the contrary, it accelerates the transfer of industry to a military footing and increases mobilization. What will it give Russia? Is it capable of producing high-precision weapons in the quantities necessary to achieve the goals of the special operation (victory in the war)? Is it possible that a large number of manpower will be able to overcome the motivation and more modern Western equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
- The Russian Federation does not leave attempts to turn the tide of the war and still reach the minimum acceptable result for it - the capture of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. At the same time, the Kremlin is signaling through various channels that it is ready to negotiate. Ukraine understands that this cannot be trusted, and the main task of the Russian Federation is to take a breather to replenish personnel and equipment for the next strike. The proposals from the Russian Federation for negotiations are nothing more than a diplomatic game, but the Russian Federation itself understands that these proposals are not taken seriously in Kyiv. This is also an attempt to show the world that the Russian Federation is for peace and wants an end to the war, which is completely untrue.
Mobilization in the Russian Federation is essentially the recognition of the Russian Federation of the failure of the "special operation" and the beginning of the war. It is ridiculous now to punish those who call war a war. Mobilization is needed by the Russian Federation to stabilize the front, we are not talking about moving forward, we are talking about not retreating too quickly. I doubt the ability of the Russian Federation to produce high-precision weapons in sufficient quantities, both in terms of the technological structure in the Russian Federation, as well as sanctions and the inability to obtain technology from Western countries. At the same time, Ukraine does not underestimate the ability of the Russian Federation to accumulate sufficient human resources, which was recently confirmed by representatives of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
- And finally. I have always been interested in the figure of Yuri Podolyaka. During the second Karabakh war, he fairly objectively covered the course of hostilities and created the impression of a competent specialist. However, few people in Azerbaijan knew that Podolyaka was from Sumy (Ukraine), but at present, apparently, he is in Russia and from there broadcasts on all channels about “the heroic deeds of our (Sic!) troops". Can you say a few words about this person and the expert?
I don't know him personally, but I've watched his videos. From my point of view, having a technical education allows him to describe events in a fairly systematic way, which gives his videos a feeling of expertise. But he is completely dominated by the Russian narrative directed against Ukraine. As soon as it reaches a key moment, all his analytics boil down to well-known Russian positions: Ukraine is ruled by the USA and Great Britain; Russia has chosen its own path, and now the entire Western world is taking revenge on it; in Ukraine, the Nazis seized power, and so on. And at this moment, the expertise disappears and he reincarnates into the role of a Russian propagandist. I believe that it is very useful for Ukraine that, as a result of the war, those who do not consider Ukraine their home left it and honestly “showed their cards”. If one can say good things about him, then only in the aspect that he honestly declared his position and moved to the Russian Federation.
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