Russia doesn’t see Ukraine as an enemy. This perspective is simply inconceivable. Ukraine could never be Russia’s enemy. It is a fraternal state and part of Russians’ history and life.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine on the border with Russia goes on. Ukrainian border guards and other military personnel seem not to be very well trained, because the shells they are firing keep straying into Russian territory. On the other hand, their “inaccuracy” could be interpreted as an attempt to do as much damage as possible to Russian border stations, which hundreds of Ukrainians are using to flee into Russia.
This appears to be an attempt to provoke Russia into striking back, in order to involve it in the conflict between Kiev and the anti-Maidan fighters. If Russia did this, the failures of Kiev and its armed forces could be blamed on Russia.
The mobilization announced in the Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa regions is nothing more than a propagandistic gesture; Ukraine will hardly risk attacking Crimea, as this would entail a firm and adequate response. This is likely a reactive action on the part of Kiev, rather than real preparations for a war to retake Crimea. Ukraine is unable to do this. It’s true that President Poroshenko said that Crimea would eventually return into the fold of Ukraine, and the new Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey promised to “restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine” and even to hold “a victory parade in Ukraine’s Sevastopol.” But Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has responded by saying that he “would not advise anyone to do this.”
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a biting reply to Heletey’s arrogant but unsubstantiated statements, saying that those who had planned to hold a parade in Red Square during WWII were later marched under Soviet guard along the Garden Ring in 1944. And if Valeriy Heletey wanted to march on the same route, under escort by Russian soldiers, this could be easily arranged for him.
Russia doesn’t see Ukraine as an enemy. This perspective is simply inconceivable. Ukraine could never be Russia’s enemy. It is a fraternal state and part of Russians’ history and life. But the current Kiev government is made up of a group of people who are hostile to Russia. Still, we never conflate the pro-fascist Kiev government with the Ukrainian people.
I can’t imagine what would have to happen to provoke hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. Russia will never start a war against Ukraine, also because this would only benefit the United States. And Russia won’t play into Washington’s hands.
Viktor Litovkin is Head of Military Desk, ITAR TASS
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