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26th Mar 2023

Interview

Russia needs a military victory, Ukraine envoy says

  • Ukraine's EU ambassador Vsevolod Chentsov (l) (Photo: consilium.eu)
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Russia's threat of war against Ukraine should be seen in terms of its geopolitical and political needs, Kyiv's new ambassador in Brussels has said.

"It [Russia's regime] needs a Crimea-type boost to replenish its image and to represent itself as having a seat at the top table [in world affairs]," Vsevolod Chentsov told EUobserver in an interview, referring to Russia's military seizure of Crimea in 2014.

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The crisis atmosphere was entirely manufactured by the Kremlin because in reality "nobody's threatening Russia," he said.

Moscow's Cold-War era rhetoric was also meant to impress the West, by trying to turn back the clock to times when Russia was a real superpower, he added.


"Russia has lost all soft power ... what's happening with Ukraine shows that all it has to offer its neighbours is hard power, threats of military action," Chentsov said.


"Where is your [Russia's] Eurasian Economic Union these days? What can you [Russia] actually offer people?," he added, referring to a Russian-led trade bloc meant to compete with the EU.


Meanwhile, if somebody in Moscow thought Ukraine would be "easy prey" in 2021, he was mistaken, the Ukrainian diplomat said.


"The Kremlin doesn't understand Ukraine. They think it's easy prey - that there's a strong pro-Russian sentiment there and no national Ukrainian idea. It's a totally different country compared to the situation in 2014", he said.

And Moscow's narratives on Ukraine did not add up, Chentsov noted.


One minute, the Kremlin was saying there was risk of war over Ukraine's Nato bid.


But the next, it was saying it might happen over alleged "genocide" in east Ukraine.


"These two narratives don't make sense together. How's that meant to work [according to Russia]? That one day we join Nato and the next day we order our soldiers to commit crimes?", Chentsov said.


"The irony of the situation is that it is the Kremlin, not the West, pushing Ukraine towards Nato", he added.

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