Ukrainian expert: Azerbaijan has shown an example of a successful a combination of military, information and diplomatic components14.12.2021
The questions of the Information and Analytical Portal Armiya.az are answered by a Ukrainian military expert, director of the International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda Yuri Kochevenko:
– Mr. Kochevenko, lately there have been more and more armed incidents on the front line in occupied Donbass.
What is the situation there and what is the separatists’ activity related to?
– Let’s first define the concepts. There are no separatists. There are Russian invaders. To talk about any, even imaginary subjectivity of the puppet so-called “L / DNR” is just as ridiculous as to assume some kind of independence of the so-called “Republic of Artsakh”.
It cannot be said that the activity of the Russian occupation forces is dramatically different from the previous periods, however we observe certain accumulations of strength and increased activity, in the first place, reconnaissance and diversionary – reconnaissance groups.
But in view of increased tensions at the borders and threats from outside Russia, we expect that the most likely full-scale Russian invasion will begin from the occupied territories.
Namely, the Russians will conduct a series of provocations in the occupied territories in the east, provoking the Armed Forces of Ukraine to retaliate, and use these actions as an excuse for full scale military invasion.
– How can we assess the military parity at the Donbass, the balance of power and the willingness of the Ukrainian army to free these territories at the moment?
What reforms have been carried out in the structures of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
-Today, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are in the highest possible tone. Combat experience and last years of reform have significantly increased our combat capability.
At the helm of the AFU now there are real military officers who went through the war and know well what it is.
Technical equipment is being systematically improved in Ukrainian army.
We understand that before the final reform we are still far away, but already now that the Ukrainian army is able to carry out the most difficult tasks to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state.
In addition to the Armed Forces, work on the creation of a system of operational reserve of the first and second priorities and territorial defense forces.
All this in a complex should increase the price so much that the aggressor will have to pay for the attempt of occupation, that he simply will refuse to expand aggressive actions.
Surely, we understand that we are alone against one of the strongest armies in the world, moreover, the operational situation around Ukraine is now develops
in such a way that from almost any side we can expect a blow: both from the occupied east and from occupied Crimea, or from the Russian-Ukrainian border,
from sides of the Russian-occupied Moldovan Transnistria or, unfortunately, from the side of the Republic of Belarus.
The General Staff understands these threats well, the scenarios of these threats we have been regularly considering since 2016, but of course it is not a simple task
and to complete it without exerting all the forces of the nation and without active help of our partners will be very difficult.
Today, if to talk specifically about the occupation troops in temporarily occupied territories of eastern Ukraine, these are two army corps,
which the Ukrainian army is certainly capable of dealing with in the shortest time, but we cannot but take into account that behind these two corps,
which are fully included in the Russian armed forces and are part of them de jure and de facto, there is the entire Russian army.
Therefore, to assess the forces of the occupiers in the east of Ukraine separately from operational capabilities of Russian troops stationed at other occupied territories,
such as Crimea, or in the immediate proximity to the Ukrainian borders is simply pointless.
Concerning reforms carried out by the Ukrainian army, from the most important we should mention the transition into a new structure and system of command and control of troops, which meets NATO standards, a significant increase in the role and importance of the sergeant (non-commissioned) officers, a change in approaches to formulating and performing of combat missions.
Also the Ukrainian army today possesses some of the most modern and effective weapons – these are famous UAVs “ Bayraktar ”, anti-tank missile systems “Jewelin” and others.
But for the sake of justice, it should be noted that the bulk of the weapons remains of Soviet production, a lot of this is already technically and morally outdated, and the process of complete rearmament will take much more time, effort and money.
– When discussing the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the most popular terms were “information” and “hybrid” war.
According to many experts, Russian propaganda had been winning for a long time. Since then, Ukraine has managed somehow to break the information blockade and suppress the attacks of Rosagitprop (russian agitation and propaganda)?
– I would not single out any separate “wars”. It’s all one big war of Russia against the Free World, and its information component – just one component of the war.
At the first stage Russia, taking advantage of the effect of surprise and our unpreparedness, has reached a number of successes on the information front.
It is foolish to deny it and even more to the extent this was expressed in the behavior of some of our fellow citizens, who, in fact, supported aggressive actions against their own country.
It was a classic example of mass consciousness manipulation when a person who is subject to manipulation acts against his own interests, even neglecting their own safety.
But it is important to note that we were able to recover from this shock rather quickly and to start acting quickly and confidently, at least in our own territory.
The direct and most obvious evidence is the failure of attempts of Russia to step up anti-Ukrainian movements and actions in most of the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, and in fact the collapse of so-called “Novorossiya” project.
Now, despite a number of difficulties, in general, it is possible for Ukraine to quite successfully beat off Russian information attacks, help our allies in this and even attack itself.
– Everyone knows the possibilities of Russian propaganda and the budget Russian propaganda machine.
During the years of confrontation with the Russian Federation has Ukraine managed to create such media outlets?
In general, how do you rate the current capabilities of Ukrainian media – TV channels, electronic media, radio stations, etc.?
– In my opinion, it would be a mistake to try to act symmetrically, we are incapable, like Russia, of spending billions of dollars on propaganda and aggressive information actions against other states.
Our answer should be asymmetric and rely on those actions that Russia cannot afford a priori.
I would single out 3 fundamental principles of action for Ukraine and all countries of the Free World in the information space:
– effective interaction of all healthy forces of society, state institutions, public organizations, free Mass media in repelling information aggression.
Russia is not capable of this, on the contrary, the Kremlin is systematically destroying any rudiments of civil society in their own country.
All its activities can be based only on a rigid, vertical line of power provided with a powerful financial resource.
– increasing media literacy of both our own population and promoting its increase in Russia itself.
Improving media literacy naturally leads to the strengthening of society’s resilience to information attacks and manipulations.
Russia is not capable of this, it is scared of increasing the level of media literacy, in the first turn from its own population, as this will immediately destroy its house of cards.
– effective international cooperation and formation of long-term partnership coalitions based on common for all humanity values:
freedom, respect for human rights, inadmissibility of any form of discrimination.
Russia is not capable of effective international cooperation, it can only buy temporary allies and force their satellites on certain actions, such as Belarus or Armenia.
-It is in the effective combination of these three foundations that I see the pledge of successfully repelling Russian information aggression.
– Recent test of the Bayraktar strike UAV in Donbass made a lot of noise in political circles and in expert community.
In your opinion, this may be a harbinger of the upcoming liberation operation of the Ukrainian army?
– We have carefully studied and continue to study the experience of successful actions of Azerbaijan to liberate its territories in September – October 2020
and the main conclusion that, in my opinion, we must draw – it is that you cannot liberate your previously occupied territories exclusively by diplomatic means.
However, it is impossible to do this exclusively by military means. In a successful combination of military, information, diplomatic and other components lies the key to liberating our land.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine are in full combat readiness and ready to fulfill any task that the higher military-political leadership of the country will set.
But Ukraine consistently and unswervingly adheres to all international obligations, therefore, we do not talk and may not talk about any military operations at the moment.
However, any provocations, any threats to life civilians or Ukrainian military personnel will be decisively suppressed by all available means, including using UAVs “Bayraktar”, which are now on a round-the-clock combat on duty in the Joint Forces Operations area.
– The Turkish President recently offered to become a mediator for reconciliation of Russia and Ukraine on the issue of the Donbass. What do you think, what political and diplomatic potential Turkey has for such roles?
Of course, we consider Turkey a friendly country and one of the our most important partners, therefore with great attention and gratitude treat the proposal of President Recep Erdogan.
But given the inability of Russia to any form of constructive dialogue, I do not harbor any hopes or illusions associated with this initiative.
Russia stops only where it is stopped. Any form of the search for a dialogue or a compromise the Kremlin perceives as a weakness, more and more insolently whetting their imperial appetites.
Therefore, in my deep conviction, only a powerful anti-imperial coalition of all states that have sensed and are aware of the full danger of Russian aggression, is able to put the aggressor in its place.
The modern Russian elite does not think of another form of existence and development of its own state other than the totalitarian empire to which they are so passionately strive,
demonstrating this by their actions both in external and in domestic policy.
For them, this is the only way to keep their power. But the Russian empire is impossible without Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, etc.
Therefore, we simply have no choice, we are doomed to defend our freedom and Independence, our future.
The guarantee of having our own future can and should become a united front to repel Russian aggression from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea.
For our freedom and yours! Sizin və bizim müstəqilliyimiz naminə!
Interviewed by: Cavcas Omarov