“Marchuk: Everybody has forgotten, USSR army missile rockets situated in Ukraine were pointed towards the USA. It was 1,500 nuclear warheads, containing 30 Hiroshimas in each.”
In an interview with “Gordon”, ex-chief SSU and Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian army general spoke about why the West is wary of transferring defense arms to Ukrainian soldiers, how Russian president Vladimir Putin blackmails world leaders and what exactly ex-prime minister Nikolai Azarov said in his interview.
The interview was published on March 17, 2015, but it is still actual because the situation hasn’t changed much and there is a great possibility of the further Putin’s aggression.
Marchuk: We only see the very top of Putin’s activity, and therefore sometimes it seems he might let impromptus happen. Photo: Tatiana Danakina / gordonua.com
The possibility for defense arms transit to Ukraine has been discussed for over a few months in European countries and the USA. Western partners limited by imposing economic sanctions against Russia, providing humanitarian aid and military equipment. The decision about lethal arms allocation still has not been approved.
The head of international defense secretariat and civil cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, ex-chief SSU and the Ministry of Defense general Yevgeny Marchuk thinks the reason for inactivity from western leaders is a risk of aggravation of military tension in Donbas, and also the nuclear blackmail from the Russian side.
“The countries, that guaranteed our sovereignty, left Ukraine on one to one with armed to its teeth angry Russia,” Yevgeny Marchuk
- Despite the pressure from the senators, the USA president agreed to transfer only drones and armored vehicle to Ukraine. Does it mean, that America declined Ukraine in a real military support?
- The USA government practically agreed the decision about this. This help is welcomed.
I think, the direct military help will not be provided neither by the USA nor by Europe. Lethal arms is unlikely to be given. The RF is expecting just that. Firstly, the decision will not be a secret one, straight away Russians will send several special troops to Ukraine, in order to get samples by any price.
Secondly, even if the USA agrees to a lethal arms transit (antitank and antiaircraft), Russia will use this as a reason for justifying a new mass arms transit in a conflict zone. The logic is simple: if America strengthens Ukraine, then, Russia needs to do the same. Off course, it’s nonentity. Already Russia flooded Donbas with different kinds of the most innovative attacking machines. Not all of the NATO countries have such an amount of military arms as DPR and LPR.
- The USA doesn’t want to risk, Europe is scared and NATO cannot act without political decisions. The Budapest memorandum guarantees turned out to be an empty promise. What needs to be done then?
- Indeed, it is hard to understand, even a little bit offensive that the countries which signed the Budapest memorandum and guaranteed our sovereignty, at the moment, left Ukraine on one to one with armed to its teeth and angry Russia.
Has everyone really forgotten, that gigantic 43rd USSR missile rockets army located in Ukraine that was pointed towards the USA? It had 1,5 thousand atomic warheads, containing 30 Hiroshimas in each. We demoted this colossal threat under the USA guarantees. The nuclear ammunition were given to the RF in exchange for atomic power stations fuel. And what did we get in return? The fear from the USA and Germany, for oh, not to provoke Russia! And this is when, it is openly pupping Donbas with super lethal offensive weapon, killing more and more Ukrainian soldiers.
Does it all give us the right not just merely ask for but demand the lethal weapon help to fight back Russian aggression?
Marchuk: No all of the NATO countries have such a volume of military ammunition as the fighters in ‘’DPR’’ and ‘’LPR’’
I have a glimmer of hope, that some solution was found during the president’s trip in the army salon in the UAE. We have the right to buy everything we require. It is very expensive, but we must use every opportunity.
“We have to seriously prepare to a new Russian military outbreak and realize nobody will fight for us.”
Baltic countries, felt the danger sharper than others, Great Britain and the USA, I think, will continue supporting us further, even if there will be a change of leaders in these countries.
However, there is a different Europe, tired of conflict. Big business is losing money, this is job and electorate for the victory in elections. Putin is counting on this debilitation.
Russians know how to corrupt various environments in Europe. We can see, how Putin’ team gradually is washing away European consolidation around Ukrainian topic. They have achieved a lot, judging by the Hungarian, Greek and even German reaction. Already the head of German MFA Walter Steinmeier started saying about having to stick to a strategic patience in Donbas negotiations, and French president Francoise Hollande announced France is against of Ukraine’s joining NATO.
The West is changing the way they think about Russia. To my mind, NATO is just about to come up with a new strategy. Soon, Russia will feel additional pressure in both economic and military- strategic sense.
- Russia withdrew completely from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) 11 of March. Would this decision affect the military actions in Donbas?
- Russia made the decision about the exit back in 2007, announcing about this to the whole world. That was the signal, the West did not de-code. A year later the war with Georgia and annexing a part of its territory happened. The West swallowed it as well. Coming out from the fact, that Russia destroyed all world security system in 2014-2015, western leaders will not see anything sensational, I think.
I can see more so a devils signal in that information. Russia began the exiting process of CFE in the eve of attacking Georgia. Would the fact of the complete exit mean a sign to a new stage of Russian aggression against Ukraine?
The NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg upset will not have any influence on the Russia’s behavior. It is moving forward. The RF MFA has already voiced the hints about possible exit from the agreement about the ban of spreading of nuclear weapon. The West cannot come up with the effective nonmilitary technology that would make Russia accept peace. That is why we have to seriously prepare for the new outleap of Russian military activity and clearly understand: nobody is going to fight for us.
“Only inadequately large losses of live forces and machinery are able to stop Putin. It requires a lot of defense arms.”
- The Government prepared the appeal in order to send UN and EU peacekeepers to Ukraine. Would it help to stop Russian aggression?
- The appeal for a peace keeping contingent – is a good idea, however it is impossible for a quick turnaround. Even in the case of a positive outcome, the peace keepers would not arrive much earlier than November. This is the procedure. The required condition for sending the mission – is an agreement from both sides. Russia is openly refusing and considers the deployment of an international peace keeping contingent – as moving away from Minsk agreement.
A European Union police mission could arrive quicker, although the process of agreeing and realization is not very easy either. Also, you have to remember, if Putin decides to fight for the land corridor to Crimea, no peace keepers would stop him. Only inadequately large losses of live forces and machinery are able to stop him. It requires a lot of defense arms, new tactics and strategy from Ukrainian Army Forces.
Marchuk: If Putin decides to fight for the land corridor to Crimea, no peace keepers would stop him.
- If the deployment of the peace keeper forces would not result to the Donbas freedom, what is a perspective for this region?
- Russia is not going to leave Donbas any time soon. They lost a lot of power and recourses, and came to know the region in a military-operational sense. The enclave is practically formed there. Until there is a change in ruling political government in the RF, I do not think anything will change.
We will have to agree on an uneasy decision: what formation it is going to be – Donetsk – Lugansk enclave. We will see how Verhovna Rada reacts to a president project about a special course of regional government in two occupied regions today, 17 of March.
Being maximalists on the inside, we have to transform to pragmatics, and get the most from the opportunities. The situation is dramatic: we have a border dividing “DPR” and “LPR” and the rest of Ukraine. Even if the one imagines, that the fighting will stop for some time and the peace is established, this is not going to be Transnistria. The situation is much more complicated- there is an open border with Russia and a different level of conflict, differentworld leader’s involvement and the different heart of the problem. Russians do not need this Donbas. Putin wants it to be a Ukrainian territory, but as a platform for and ongoing blackmail whenever Russia needs it.
I would advise the country governance to begin the development of tactics and the strategy for our actions towards this region right now.
- Should Ukraine listen to Russian demands for keeping out of NATO block in order to keep peace?
There should not be return to out of block status no matter how Russia protest against that. Putin was claiming a long time ago that Ukraine – is a non-state. He wants to destroy the country.
Every effort to intensify the Euro Atlantic direction will be used for different provocations. However, if we change the Constitution on his demands and agree on out of block status, for Europeans it will be a clear signal: Ukraine agreed to be a fairway for Russia. We remained out of the block for 23 years and ended up with Russian aggression. We have no other choice, but to join the system of collective security. The only organization in Europe that guarantees that is NATO.
The closed seminar ‘’Oligarchs and War’’ should be created alongside President, and its secretary should be a head of National anti-corruption office.
- The politicians are always debating, to go ahead with martial
law or not. What do you think?
- There is no universal answer for this. There is a populist evaluation level of cons and pros. Yes, the economy is shifted towards the military needs, there will be some restrictions… Foremost not the restrictions, but the state of economy. No efficient army is possible without economic base, its recourses will quickly drain. Many fear the buildings and transport requisition in the governments favor. But we have to understand that this is not definite, it is temporary and suggests compensation. In the martial law, the parliament makes a decision not as a whole, and is rather precise details what exactly is happening and how it is limited.
It is not enough just to enforce marital law, a lot needs to be changed in the state governance and in the life of the society. In order to make a decision, there should be a deep and honest analysis of the internal recourse, with understanding that the countries of the West will help us indeed (diplomatically and economically), but also realizing that Russia will be acting more aggressively.
Marchuk: The time has come, for everyone to begin marital law at home
and at work. Photo: Tatiana Danakina /gordonua.com
Internationally the state governance is acting mainly in a correct way. And Poroshenko personally, is working, as well as the whole Ministry of the Foreign Affairs. The serious protocol is in the fact that there are a lot of embassies without ambassadors. When the ambassador is not sent, in a diplomatic world it is a sign of something rather bad.
All the resource must be mobilized inside the country, taking to consideration the unrest. The government and the President have to do homework in order to correct internal social and economic politics.
- What do you mean by referring to homework?
There is an exigency to sort out our internal resource. One component of this resource is a national consolidation. Maidan and the events that followed, demonstrated – we have large unused potential. But public consolidation could be destroyed under the influence of social and economic problems that exist in our country nowadays. We must stop any hints on justified criticism limitation about government. The government must be open as much as possible and constantly keep explaining its citizens, what is going on in the country and not once in 100 days.
People will understand a lot, although not everyone is ready to accept and forgive. We have rather difficult process ahead of us. But we cannot give up. We can make it, we are such a nation: getting ready for a long time, moving ahead quickly. The potential of Ukrainians is high, and there is a resource with the help of international partners to stand up to Russia. To stand up to it in such a way for it to go back home.
The president and his administration should find a different public and backstage approach in communicating with the participants within the political process. It must be explained: if we are fighting any longer that would end in a ruin for all. And further – do some individual work. Maybe, it is worthwhile to remind, who and how came to become a millionaire or a billionaire.
I think, the closed seminar ‘’Oligarchs and War’’ should be created alongside President, and its secretary should be a head of National anti-corruption Office. I think there would be no problems with the agenda for the day.
I have a feeling, it could be rather hot in the direction of Kharkiv and Chernigiv
At present Russia is openly supplying Donbass with military arms, including heavy, attacking weapons. We understand, it requires a land corridor to Crimea. Hence, Mariupol is under the threat. But I do have a feeling, there could be rather hot in the direction of Kharkiv and Chernigiv.
- Kharkiv is often restless, Chernigiv on the other hand is relatively calm. Why such fears?
These are the most frightening points. In Chernigiv direction – you could get to Kyiv in no time, it is around 200 kilometers. My friend is a frontier guard in Chernigiv region. A year ago Russians warned them: if you see a particular sign, bear in mind we have a command, and we will be doing our duty, apologies upfront.
Off course, I do not believe that Russians will try to attack Kyiv. Although… Lately I always catch myself thinking that we should not say this anymore: I do not think, I do not believe. But nobody could predict Russia will go ahead with the aggressive annexing of Crimea, or with war in Donbas, killing our civilians, setting up sabotages. And as Putin once said he could get to Kyiv and to Warsaw, we must not rule anything out.
Kharkiv and Odesa are still Russian centers for the sabotage activity and more complicated development of the situation is possible.
For further defense we require well prepared and equipped national army. And also, united management.
Army requires personal structure filtration in order to take out those who are lazy and turned out to be not as productive as others in the current conditions.
All the new commanders and volunteers have to get through modern military study.
- Some experts are suggesting to let go the top military management, in order to cleanse the army from the traitors. Would you say it will increase Ukrainian army effectiveness?
Laying off everyone – is the easiest method. However, we cannot do it in our case, as we are acting in war circumstances.
It was suggested to get everyone through a lie detector. Understandably, a well prepared person, can easily fool any polygraph, although it can scare people really well.
The cleansing process in armed forces and security services will happen. But the Russian side still will be looking for the different methods in order to recruit and attain the information sources in all levels of the military management. Main thing to bear in mind, secret service is always the most valuable in different spheres of the political management of the country, as the army is governed by politicians.
A smart agent of influence surrounded by people, making decisions on important government decisions, could be the most effective for the enemy, more than a chieftain of a high level. It is a lot harder to detect such an agent. There was a justified scandal around Russian agency amongst the military which moved away a more dangerous problem in the civil conscience – the influence of Russian special agency in a political sphere.
There are a lot of complicated problems. For instance, is SSU capable of deducting a search counterintelligence work amongst MPs in Verhovna Rada, Presidential Administration, in the Ministers Cabinet… Common sense says yes.
Putin’s plot: to convince the West – Ukraine is historically justified area of the Russian interests, and without the RF involvement nobody would be able to change anything in this region
- As an analytic do you understand the idea of the game Putin is playing?
I think, it is a shame, some of our media and politicians were ‘’presenting’’ Putin in a simplified way for the past two years, as a harsh, but not farsighted leader, who is just about to be cornered by the international sanctions. That was a mistake.
Russia has got one of the most powerful intelligence – information and analytical technology in the world. It is wholly working for Putin, as well as his closest team – people, he has been working together with for around 15 years (government, police force, security soviet, Presidential administration, parliament). This is a powerfully formed group, held together by the sinful initiation of the war with Ukraine and not only by old network connections.
We can only see the very top of Putin’s activity, and therefore sometimes it seems he might let impromptus happen. In real life, this machine is preparing everything very precisely, finding out, forecasting and acting according to developed plans.
The signs for the strategic plan for the Ukrainian special operation became apparent before the annexing of Crimea, when the RF began the series of wide spread military maneuvers near our borders. The first phase of the Crimean operation by Russia was a copycat of operation for the Crimean occupation in 1992-1994.
Putin: I told all of my colleagues, there were four of them, a situation in Ukraine turned out in such a way, we have no choice but to begin work in order to return Crimea back to Russia. We cannot leave this territory and people who live there in the lurch, to be tortured by the nationalists. Having set out defined tasks, I said what and how we should do.
The Putin’s idea is generally understood: to wear out, to exhaust and divide Ukraine. Tightly block its opportunity to join NATO. To convince the West, and most of all the USA, Ukraine is historically justified area of the Russian interests, and without the RF involvement nobody would be able to change anything in this region.
- Economic sanctions introduced by the countries of the West – is it too week argument for the Russian president?
Putin is not scared of any economic sanctions. On the contrary, they help him to keep all the political beau monde under control and pump up its rating. In his understanding – he is a global player, a head of nuclear country, although weak in economy, but large in territory and with massive armed forces. Putin is hinting to Obama, Merkel and Hollande that in the next few years they might not be elected again and he is going to be a president for as long as he wants. He can wait as he has a large margin of safety and different scale to measure time.
’’Do you want to block me off, make me an outcast? Go ahead. But you will not sort anything out without me.’’ – this is the main message from Putin. He prepared himself to become an outcast. They say, he divorced in order to avoid being blackmailed through the close ones.
His main argument is a nuclear weapon. In order to demonstrate his daring confidence, Putin sends bombers and submarines to NATO countries. He zoned through all of the alliance perimeter, even in the west coast side of the USA, he directed strategic bombers with petrol stations. I think, he will continue to demonstrate everyone – he leads a global game and the world leaders will not come to an agreement without him.
The idea for the recently appeared Yanukovich and Azarov interviews on the central Russian channels is clear in this context. Yanukovich did not have any strategic motives for the interview, Azarov did have them. He voiced Russian establishment message, with hints for Yalta number two. If you remember, at the end of the Second World War, the leaders of the anti – Hitler coalition countries conditionally divided the world during the meeting. Later on those borders became real.
Now it is obvious, that Ukraine being the participant of the global problem, is not a leading player any more. Hence you get Putin’s behavior in Minsk, long negotiations and agreements, he was not going to sign. If you look at it as a whole, these agreements were beneficial to the RF.
- So the visits to Minsk did not benefit Ukraine?
The first and second Minsk negotiations did not resolve anything on a large scale. It does not mean they went completely wrong. There are tactic and strategic level evaluations. For example –captive exchange is a tactical joy. In a strategic sense Minsk agreements, especially the second one, amongst seemingly present positivity, did not grant Ukraine anything. Our country demonstrated to the whole world, it follows the pact and Russia does not.
Putin demonstrated many times, he did not give a toss about any arrangements. He went ahead with breaking Europe security system, Budapest Memorandum. Some sort of Minsk agreement does not matter to him at all.
It is evident now, the format for the European four will not reach anything. We need Geneva format with the USA taking part. But the chance is lost. We should have insisted on the change of the format before visiting Minsk, when Putin was under unprecedented pressure.
Kharkiv’s agreements from April 2010, without doubt, were the compound part of the Devil’s plan to annex Crimea
- Judging by your words, Russia already tried to get the Crimea back in the beginning of 1990s. How did you cope with the aggression back then?
If we did not block the whole military component, that operation could end up with the annexation of the peninsula. It began from the Cuban Cossack festival in Simferopol in 1993: all the Cossacks were young, with short haircuts and obeyed the leader. The local political parties were used in order to set more anti Ukrainian feelings.
The Black Sea Fleet joined in as well (BSF), it had its own media- radio, TV, newspapers. Military bases are situated locally in the whole world, surrounded with the fence and in Simferopol the military structure is integrated in the civil life. BSF had the military intelligence and counterintelligence, they were in control over the whole situation in Crimea.
Then there was the spoliation of TRC and Supreme Soviet of Crimea dissolution. The President – Yuriy Meshkov. Very few people know, that the government was headed by person who arrived from Russia with the last name of Saburov. And one of his closest assistants was a Russian secret service agent Minin. When they began planning the SSU seizure, we managed to parachute in Crimea. Deceased general Gubenko, who was the head of the border army, helped us to secretly get to the peninsula in low flying helicopters. The operation was led by my second in command Valeriy Malikov. We managed to get the building under our control on the night prior. It was a surprise to everyone, even for the head of Crimean SSU. ‘’Alfa’’ from Kyiv met him, when he arrived to work.
In a way, to certain extent we managed to retain Crimea because Eltsin was a president. Despite incredible difficulties, we managed to divide BSF without shedding blood. There were some rather intense episodes, a few times we were close to using weapons, but everything sorted itself out.
Marchuk took part in division Black Sea Fleet negotiations with Eltsin, and being a vice prime minister of Ukraine, signed the Friendship agreement in 1995, about cooperation and partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Photo: Evgeni Marchuk/Facebook
Once I rang president Kravchuck and said that I am sending a telegram to Moscow and warned him, Eltsin will be calling him back. The telegram was sharp, in order to hold the Russians I warned, we will be holding up Russian militia that are entering Crimea without prior agreement with Ukrainian side. Kravchuck said – “a standard telegram’’. He called back later that evening to say Eltsin did call back and complained: what is tour SSU chairman playing at – preparing to stop our militia in Crimea.
No wonder the mountain master, Muscovite Salamatin moved to Ukraine, became a member of the Party of Regions, then defense minister after. He is an advisor for Putin now.
- In the film ’’Crimea. Way home’’ Putin announced that decision about annexation of Crimea was only taken a few days before …
The special operation for the Crimean annexation had been in preparation for a long time, most meticulously during the presidency of Yanukovich. No wonder the mountain master, Muscovite Dimitri Salamatin moved from Moscow to Ukraine, received Ukrainian citizenship in 2005. In 2010 he became a member of the Party of Regions and immediately appointed as a head of ‘’Ukrspezeksport’’, in 2011 – as a head of government trust ‘’Ukroboronprom’’, and a year after that – defense minister for Ukraine. On his return to Moscow, rightfully Salamatin became an advisor for Putin.
His “cause’’ continued by Crimean businessman Pavel Lebedev, born in Krasnodar Region, appointed by Yanukovich as a defense minister in December 2012. 21 February 2014, after the Heavenly Hundred shooting, he run away from Kiev to Sevastopol and for the next six days were still retaining his status as a minister with all the authorities. In the meantime, from 23 to 27 February, the forced change of power happened in the governance of Sevastopol and the visible part of the annexation Crimea special operation had begun.
In the context of understanding a preparation to the annexation of Crimea is falling another recruitment appointment. In the summer of 2012 Yanukovich named the head of MNF of Ukraine ex-general of the separate navy infantry Yuriy Illin and granted an admiral status a year later. On 19 February 2014, a day before Heavenly Hundred shooting on Maidan, Yanukovich appointed him as a head of the General Office – Head of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He signed country emergency situation plan. It is available to view on the internet. Illin also runs away to Crimea, and as the Ministry of Defense Lebedev, was situated in Sevastopol with the head chief of AFU status until 28 February. These facts only a small part of a long preparation in order to annex Crimea by Russia. The other signs of the operation will come out soon. Now I can only say that so called Kharkiv agreements from April 2010, without doubt were the part of this devils plan. Remember the course of the ratification for the agreement in government, who and with what means was sorting it out. That decision legalized Russian NF presence on the Ukrainian territory practically until 2047 and was granting the right for the full modernization of the whole infrastructure and arming the fleet. It is known, that as soon as Crimea was annexed, Russians denounced them.
If Russian military and contractors can cold-bloodedly kill our soldiers and the RF civilians support this, it means, in the near future we will end up with a giant neighbor-enemy
Everything that happened in 2014-2015 is leading us to the important conclusions. First of all: the West (the USA, Europe, and NATO) turned out to be unprepared for such behaviors from Russia in the face of Putin.
The second: Ukrainians were naive and too trusting, hoping that Russian aggression can be stopped, relying on the Budapest Memorandum. It was expected, Europe and America were capable of a serious influence of the situation, in order to block Russia. It didn’t work.
The third: there is no brotherly nation. Russians can kill us. The RF has many nice people, who support Ukraine. But it has no influence on Putin’s behavior.
If we repeatedly see that Russian military and contractors can cold-bloodedly kill our soldiers and the RF civilians support this, the West cannot stand up to this effectively enough (although is trying), it means, in the near future we will end up with a giant neighbor-enemy. And all of us with no exceptions would need to learn to live aside with such a neighbor.