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20 June, 12:07 PM

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Interview with NSDC Secretary Danilov on Russia, Belarus, and the war

In Russia, everyone considers himself the Fuhrer and everyone wants to take the place of dictator Vladimir Putin, who temporarily occupies the president's chair, says the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov. He believes the struggle for the throne is now intensifying, and the “big casting” continues.

In an interview with Radio NV, Danilov explained why Putin definitely has health problems, how Ukraine might anger the dictator, and whether we should take this into account. Danilov also talked about whether Belarus constitutes a threat to Ukraine, as well as what former oligarch, and now treason suspect Viktor Medvedchuk is up to.

NV: President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered to check readiness for a possible invasion from Belarus. What is really going on there now?

Danilov: The President assembled the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, which has been operating since February 24. One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the situation with Belarus and the Belarusian border.

The task that the president determined is to examine the four oblasts for the ability to defend themselves, in case a threat appears. And there are no concerns there. We have a clear understanding of what is happening in the territory of Belarus. We understand the influence the Russian Federation has over Belarus. This is the task we are currently working on.

NV: Throughout the full-scale war since February 24, we heard discussions regarding (Belarusian dictator Alexander) Lukashenko’s army. Will he use it if Putin forces him to use it? So far he hasn't. What are your predictions now?

Danilov: It’s important to understand that Lukashenko is under enormous influence from the Russian Federation. Basically, Russia is politically occupying Belarus. And to say that Belarus is a free country is quite a stretch.

We are aware of what is happening on the territory of Belarus and of the weapons that are currently concentrated there. That is why there was a report of our research on this issue, which reflects how the Commander in Chief sees this threat. This issue is under the constant control of the President. We are aware of everything that happens in the territory of Belarus today.

NV: Are they ready to invade or not? Can you give us an analysis of the situation from a military point of view?

Danilov: When we talk about “ready or not ”, we must keep in mind that we are talking about the army. If they are raised on an alarm, that activates certain processes. Today we don’t see that they have the abilities or forces (to invade). Yes, they are doing training, among other things. But I emphasize once again that our intelligence is keeping a close eye on all of that.

We have information about what is happening in Belarus. We don’t see any serious threats, because there are not enough forces or means to carry out such a strong counteroffensive operation as the one that took place on February 24th.

The same concentration of forces as the one the Russians had on February 24 is absent in Belarus today. When our military pushed out the invaders from the north of Ukraine, they fled through Belarus and didn't stay there. Most of them were relocated to the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv axes.

NV: About collaborators. Gauleiter Vladimir Saldo was appointed in Kherson. He was a mayor of Kherson for several terms and he was known for his pro-Russian views. Also, there are reports that a few days before the invasion, he participated in a secret city council meeting, where they talked about the defense (of the city). We also have the mayor of Sviatohirsk, Volodymyr Bandura. The city was captured last week, and then he declared he switched sides for the so-called "DPR". Do you have any questions regarding this issue for our counterintelligence? Why weren't these people the focus of our intelligence officers?

Danilov: I think they were the focus of our intelligence. But in order to arrest them red-handed, an immediate reason is required.

I appreciate the work of our counterintelligence officers. They do a great job, which is not all public. If we had access to the number of people neutralized by our counterintelligence, maybe we would have a different kind of conversation right now.

NV: Can you tell us at least an approximate number?

Danilov: The number of people apprehended by counterintelligence after February 24th is huge. And I see some people accusing them of not working well enough ... My dear friends, I want you to understand this: I wish everyone would work as well as our intelligence. Thanks to them, Medvedchuk is still on the territory of our country. He isn’t somewhere in Russia or on some wild journey, or whatever it was that the Russians were doing with him here. And there are many other cases you don't know about. All of these are achievements of our counterintelligence.

NV: When will the public learn where the head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov, was in the early days of the full-scale war? According to our colleagues at Ukrainska Pravda, even the President's Office didn’t know where he was.

Danilov: You can invite Ivan Gennadievich to your show yourself...

NV: Unfortunately, he has not yet given an interview since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Danilov: Everyone should answer that question for themselves. I can tell you where I was on February 24, starting at four o'clock in the morning, until today. You are asking me this question, like I should be aware of everyone's whereabouts on February 24th.

NV: I’m asking you because you are the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, and you have access to much more information than any of us.

Danilov: So you want me to tell you where exactly Ivan Gennadievich was on February 24?

NV: Is there an investigation into this?

Danilov: First of all, on February 24, when the war began, all members of the National Security and Defense Council, at 5:30 - 5:45 in the morning were already in the office of our president.

Second of all. No matter how much some people wish it to happen - no one from the country's top political leadership had left. Everyone stayed in Ukraine - the president, the prime minister, and the head of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament). Everyone was working from Kyiv. I am very grateful to the MPs who didn’t get scared and whose overwhelming majority remained in Kyiv.

On February 24, the entire system of government in our country worked like clockwork. All the procedural issues that we had to take in a very short time (with regard to the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council) took place. All the necessary decisions were planned and executed.

The Verkhovna Rada held a vote on the introduction of martial law, mobilization, and other issues. The country carried on.

I can remind you that not a single country in the world gave us a chance to survive this invasion of the Russian Federation.

And starting November, everyone was offering us different suggestions, as well as talking about concentration camps.

The first thing they constantly scared us with was the filtration camps and the elimination of the top political leadership of the state. We kept telling them that we will fight back, that we're not going anywhere.

Moreover, we told them that the victory will be ours because the truth is on our side.

NV: A member of the Committee on National Security and Defense, Serhiy Rakhmanin confirmed that on the first day at the big meeting, where he was a representative of the Golos party, everyone was present. But Ivan Bakanov, the head of the SBU, was not there. Will we ever get an answer regarding his whereabouts?

Danilov: There were a huge number of meetings on February 24. We were in contact with MPs; every three hours there were conference calls with the heads of regional state administrations and heads of military administrations. We had a lot of work. And I can honestly say, I didn’t even have time to pay attention to who is nearby and who isn’t.

The state machine worked like clockwork.

NV: Former SBU General Andriy  Naumov, had already been detained on the Serbian-North Macedonian border. Serbia is an openly pro-Russian country, and we know that Andriy Naumov is the bearer of many state secrets. What threat does this pose? Do you know what events are developing in Serbia?

Danilov: I think that this poses a threat directly to Naumov. I don't think it's a big threat to the country. Keep in mind: if a person has access to state secrets, this doesn’t mean that he knows all of the state secrets. It doesn’t mean that he knows everything that’s kept in all the documents that are classified as Top Secret in our country. There are a handful of people who do. I don't think Mr. Naumov was one of them.

NV: We spoke with the wives of the Azov unit who defended Mariupol. They told us that the Red Cross is a third party in POWs exchange negotiations, but the organization does not currently have access to the prisoners. Therefore, they cannot confirm what conditions they are in, or what is happening to them. Can you confirm this information regarding the Red Cross?

Danilov: This is a very sensitive issue. We have an agreement: we do not comment on anything related to this particular process, in order to not interfere with those agreements. As for the work of various international institutions, we cannot give any preliminary comments or any personal interpretations, in order to not to harm the process that was agreed upon. That's all I can tell you today.

NV: We remember the swift operation to detain Viktor Medvedchuk. Is there a request for his exchange from Russia?

Danilov: The SBU counterintelligence operation did take place. I can say that they were following Medvedchuk for quite a long time in order to catch this person red-handed and to find out who else was supposed to help him.

To date, I have no information on whether Russia wants to take him or exchange him for someone. The only thing I can say is that gives a lot of information to investigators regarding his cases.

NV: You commented on the statements of Russian officials Dmitry Rogozin and Dmitry Medvedev. Let me remind you that Rogozin wrote that it is necessary to destroy the Ukrainians, and Medvedev wrote that in two years there will be no Ukraine at all. Why don't they leave themselves room to maneuver? They could easily just not write this, and if the Putin regime is overthrown, they could say that they did not support (the invasion of Ukraine). Why are they ready to jump into hell together with their Führer? Are they sure of their victory?

Danilov: Everyone considers himself the Führer there. Everyone there desires to take his place. The people you are talking about (I will not give medical conclusions, although they are on the surface) seem to have a great desire to take the place of the Führer.

But you know that Putin has the support of 80% of the population of the Russian Federation. Perhaps that’s the basis for giving such stupid comments that Ukraine will no longer exist in two years. And Mr. Rogozin generally speaks frankly, saying that if Russia does not destroy our nation, then it will be extremely difficult for the Russians to exist. I don't know how he came up with these conclusions.

We didn't bother anyone. We have a very simple request for them: leave us be, get back to your own territory, and everything will fall back into place very quickly. We don’t have claims on your territory. We have our own territory, which was determined by our Constitution in 1991 when the new independence of our country was proclaimed.

It is recorded in all international institutions. All countries of the civilized world recognize these borders, except for those that work with the Russian Federation like Syria or some other quasi-formations that suffer from the same wars that Russia unleashes around the world. They do that in order to then keep these territories under their control.

NV: Do you believe that there is a struggle for the throne in Russia right now?

Danilov: They always struggle for the throne in Russia. But right now this fight is aggravated because the one who is temporarily occupying the throne has “certain issues” according to many information sources and according to intelligence offices. And not just our intelligence, it is the intelligence of other countries too. We have confirmation.

Of course, there is a struggle there and it’s escalating. The “big casting” is in progress. They compete there for the conditional love of a person who is temporarily in that chair. This is just getting started.

NV: How do rumors about Putin's fatal illness affect his entourage? Both respected media and even intelligence services from different countries are talking about it.

Danilov: The state of Putin's health has been talked about for a long time. But now everyone believes that there is an exacerbation (of his condition), so now people are paying more attention to that.

I can say that a lot of attention is focused on the health of old rulers, including Putin. If you recall the Soviet times when we had elderly leaders, 90% of the population wasn’t discussing any of their achievements, but the health of these people. Remember what happened in the 1980s? One after another, these rulers took turns in leading the country, but then they quickly died one after another, because they were already as old as Putin.

NV: The European Commission provided the recommendation on granting Ukraine the status of a candidate member of the European Union. They say that the Kremlin is expected to somehow react to granting Ukraine the status of a candidate member of the EU. How should they react? What do we expect from them?

Danilov: I don’t know. Who says that?

NV: There was an article on CNN, an article in The Washington Post and several columns saying that this annoyed Putin.

Danilov: That’s a pretty strange situation. We are an independent country. Yet Russia is against our participation in certain alliances and in certain unions. We do not dictate our will to anyone. We don’t say: "Russia shouldn’t be a part of the CSTO or of Euro-Asia." They are part of a bunch of institutions.

It is really some sort of bad manners when another country begins to dictate to an independent country where it should and shouldn’t be. It's none of their business. This is the business of the citizens of our country. We have a Constitution that clearly states our desire to be a part of the European community and our desire to be a part of NATO. Period.

And why the hell should we (I apologize for the expression) pay attention to those who speculate about things that might irritate Putin? I do not care!

We are an independent country. Those opinions are at the end of the list of things that are relevant.

There are other problems. The first is that Russia believes that we do not exist as a nation. And if we do exist, then we exist as fascists - that's the second one. The third one is the fact that for the Russians we all need to be destroyed, including children. These are fundamental, relevant things to talk about. 322 children have already died in this country. I hope that those scum who gave an order to attack our country see them in their sleep. As well as when they talk nonsense about coming here for some kind of “special operation” and “to kill fascists”.

NV: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave an interview to the BBC. He already has a new explanation (for the invasion). Firstly, he says that they didn’t invade Ukraine: “We launched this special operation to show the West that it is a crime to drag Ukraine into NATO.” Do you have an explanation why for Russia the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO is not a problem, but Ukraine's accession to NATO is a problem?

Danilov: You just answered your own question. You should ask that fella why he thinks Russia has a right to tell us what to do in the first place.

I would like to draw attention to this so-called media “hygiene”. I don't understand why someone like the BBC is interviewing these people in the first place. That’s quite amazing. Those people have committed crimes, they support crimes, they support the murder of children in our territory, and journalists turn to them for interviews.

I have a list of journalists with whom I have never communicated in my life and I am not planning to. It is my right to do so. If the international media community would develop a. complete quarantine of Russian propaganda, we all might have an easier life. Total isolation, so they are left to communicate with themselves. They have TV channels there, they would only go there to spew all the nonsense they usually bring to the world.

NV: There was the news that posters appeared in Moscow with pictures of the invaders who died in Ukraine. They're all in dress uniforms in those pictures. It seems that the Russian authorities have already begun mobilization in large cities. In addition, they mobilized people from the provinces, from depressed regions. What do you think it changes? How are they now mobilizing in Russia?

Danilov: The number of casualties of the Russian Federation can no longer be hidden. It is already entering the media space. For the first two or three weeks, even a month and a half, they were silent about the losses. They say that everything is going according to plan here, tomorrow everything will be fine. Tomorrow came, and nothing happened.

Of course, today the Russian media needs their own “special operation” so they can say ‘These heroes died in the "fight against fascism.”' That are the narratives they came up with for themselves. Like, this is supposedly their mission. Russian parents must understand that their children are sent here only to be killed. And it's hard to say how many more they want to be killed here before they stop sending them. Russians are a quite complicated… nation? No, not a nation… I don’t even know how to say if there are 140 nationalities…

NV: We say “population”.

Danilov: Yeah, of course. First, they sent people here from Buryatia, Yakutia, and everyone else from those distant territories that they didn’t feel sorry for. Now, when they are slowly running out of those people, they need to move (their mobilization) to the cities. And we are about to see how well the Russians will handle that. As for Russian narratives, I can say that they are very capable of inventing something they end up believing in themselves.

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