8th September, 2023
Ukraine’s former defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov has revealed that Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin is determined to destroy Ukraine entirely and to “assimilate” its citizens into the Russian Federation.
The shocking revelation is contained in an article Reznikov wrote for the UK Guardian. It was published today.
He warned western nations any that any negotiations with Moscow, involving cession of land, will not bring peace and end the conflict.
Reznikov wrote: “Russia demands the recognition of the occupied territories of Ukraine as its territory in exchange for the end of the war.
“However, this is obviously for the sake of one thing only – to buy some time, regroup and ‘finally solve the Ukrainian issue’ using new resources. Russia does not recognise the existence of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
“Its goal is the destruction of Ukrainian statehood and assimilation of Ukrainians.”
Reznikov – who was removed from his job on Sunday by president Volodymyr Zelenskiy – likened calls for Ukraine to make territorial concessions to international demands in 1938 that Czechoslovakia give up Sudetenland to Nazi Germany. The transfer happened, at the behest of the UK and France.
“We know from history that this did not stop Hitler. Soon the Third Reich had complete control over what was left of Czechoslovakia, including its military arsenal. Putin’s actions follow a similar pattern,” he writes.
Read the full article titled:
How long is 671 days? In the context of modern history, it is perhaps the equivalent of a few seconds. But for me, it accounts for a period of time during which more has happened to Ukraine than many countries go through in a century. It is also the number of days that I served as my country’s minister of defence.
I took up the position on 4 November 2021, when Ukraine had been facing Russian hybrid warfare for eight years. Within 112 days, the Kremlin had begun full-scale warfare – unknown to Europe since the second world war. Ukraine became the first state in the world forced to wage war against an aggressor in five domains at once: land, air, water, and the informational and cyber environments.
As defence minister, I was always thinking about what Ukraine’s armed forces would need tomorrow, not today. This led to the vital acquisition of Javelins, NLAWs and Stingers; later on we acquired the M777 howitzer, the Patriot missile system and are now preparing to deploy F-16 fighter jets.
This would not have happened without the will, determination and compassion of my fellow defence ministers from more than 50 countries across the world. We have been united under the Ukraine Defense Contact Group – also known as the Ramstein format, due to the monthly meeting’s location at the Ramstein airbase in Germany – and the leadership of the US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin. The Ramstein format is a platform capable of changing the world’s security architecture for the better.
I would like to thank my fellow ministers of defence: you are the people writing a new page of the world’s history. It is thanks to you that Ukrainians are able to face Russian aggression with dignity. We will never forget those who lent a hand in the most terrible time of our history.
But I would also like to make several important points for my defence colleagues.
The objective of the civilised world must be to stop Russia
Impunity for Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 brought about its occupation of Crimea in 2014; impunity for the occupation of Crimea led to the occupation of Donbas; impunity for the occupation of Donbas allowed for Russia’s aggressive intervention in Syria; impunity for Syria and inattention to events in Crimea and Donbas resulted in the full-scale war in Ukraine – with hundreds of thousands killed, millions of refugees and humanitarian and ecological disasters.
Do we want this list of suffering to be extended?
You have to realise that you are responsible for the entire future of humanity; that is why it is vital that you act decisively. Russia and its partners have challenged not just the independence and sovereignty of one European country, but the entire world order – including international law and humanitarian and security institutions. Whether the civilised world will be able to avert a third world war will depend on its response to Russia’s actions and how the war in Ukraine ends.
Russia won’t be stopped by “freezing” the conflict, an armistice or concessions.
In 1938, striving to prevent what would become the second world war, an infamous agreement was signed in Munich, transferring the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia to the Third Reich. We know from history that this did not stop Hitler. Soon the Third Reich had complete control over what was left of Czechoslovakia, including its considerable military arsenal, which later played an important role in the invasion of Poland and France.
Putin’s actions follow a similar pattern. Russia demands the recognition of the occupied territories of Ukraine as its territory in exchange for the end of the war. However, this is obviously for the sake of one thing only – to buy some time, regroup and “finally solve the Ukrainian issue” using new resources. Russia does not recognise the existence of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people; its goal is the destruction of Ukrainian statehood and the assimilation of Ukrainians.
Its ambitions will not stop at Ukraine. I believe that letting Russian obtain Ukraine’s resources, including a large recruiting fund, will only increase the Kremlin’s ambitions and lead to a big new war in eastern Europe, which will inevitably involve Nato – with all the resulting risks.
Russia’s nuclear threat may be solved by your decisiveness
Russia has consistently withdrawn from most of the key international agreements on nuclear weapons, such as Start 2 (it left the treaty on 14 June 2002), New Start (Russia suspended participation on 21 Feburary 2023) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty (it withdrew on 3 July 2019).
Moreover, on 25 May 2023 Russia and Belarus signed a document on the deployment of nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. Given this trend, it is currently impossible to claim with certainty which countries Russian nuclear missiles and nuclear weapons’ technologies can still reach and what the consequences might be.
While the war continues, an international strategy for minimising the risks of engagement of Russian nuclear weapons and the proliferation of Russian nuclear weapons’ technologies to other countries should be developed and approved as soon as possible. This should contain components of military strategy and sanctions as pressure mechanisms, as well as the future architecture of international treaties regarding Russian nuclear weapons.
Russian war criminals must face justice
Evil must be punished to prevent more people becoming victims in future. The sooner an international tribunal for Russia’s crimes in Ukraine is established, the sooner this war will end. The tribunal should assess all facts of Russia’s alleged war crimes, including genocide, cultural genocide, ethnocide, ecocide, forced deportations, child abduction, terror against energy production, mass executions of civilians and prisoners of war and missile and artillery attacks against objects of civilian infrastructure.
Victory for Ukraine is not a dream, but a reality
The recipe for this victory is clear: it is restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the withdrawal of the remnants of Russian troops, the punishment of war criminals, reparations, the introduction of the amendments to international law that will prevent similar aggressions in the future, and participation of Ukraine in the architecture of international security.
The victory of Ukraine will be the triumph of international law over the arbitrariness of the strong. It will demonstrate that it is unacceptable to change internationally recognised borders through military aggression. It will be the unity of the free world against the tyranny of unfreedom.
Dear colleagues, ministers of defence, I trust in your virtues and desire to make this world better. Therefore I urge unity, bravery and consolidated action – that is the only way for us to save this world from the catastrophe of a third world war.
Finally I would like to ask you to be even more responsive and supportive to my successor. Rustem Umerov is a competent and professional person capable of continuing the initiatives we have launched. Together, you will accelerate the moment of Ukraine’s victory.
It was my honour to serve my country and work with you. Glory to Ukraine!
*Oleksii Reznikov was Ukraine’s minister of defence from 2021-23