Kyiv mayor says Russia seeks to restore the Soviet Union
Russia is an aggressor with very specific geopolitical aims, and currently it is striving to recreate the empire of the Soviet Union, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Germany’s Deutsche Welle public broadcaster in an interview on Jan. 27.
The former boxer, who has been the mayor of the Ukrainian capital since 2014, commented on the looming threat posed by Russian troops amassed near the Ukraine border.
“Russia plays a major role in the geopolitical game,” Klitschko told Deutsche Welle. “We understand Russia is also an important business partner for Germany, but Russia is playing aggressive politics.”
“It’s no secret that Russia wants to recreate the empire of the Soviet Union. But we don’t want to go ‘Back to the USSR,’” he emphasized.
Klitschko stressed that he believes Ukraine’s future lies in the European community, as a “modern and democratic country with European ideals.”
He said despite being a “young democracy,” Ukraine’s “vision of being part of a European family doesn’t fit the image of our eastern neighbor – that means Russia.”
While Klitschko wants a diplomatic resolution to the eight-year conflict between Russia and Ukraine, he believes it “should not be achieved to the detriment of Ukraine’s interests.”
He also expressed dismay with Germany’s new government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, pointing out how Germany has blocked arms sales to Ukraine from other countries, despite the possible threat of a renewed Russian invasion.
However, Klitschko said relations between Ukraine and Germany’s new government were stable.
“Germany is one of the most important countries in Europe,” he said. “We need German support in many areas. We share the same values. We cannot make demands, but we are asking for arms for — and I’d like to stress this – self-defense.”
“We don’t have any choice. We have to defend our country. We have to defend our future, our vision, our values and our families. We are not going to attack anyone.”
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October.
More than 127,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukrainian borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 175,000 Russian soldiers.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead demanding that it be provided with “security guarantees” by the United States and NATO.
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