“They, judging from what I have seen, will participate to an extent. As you know, at the moment they (the Russian occupational government – ed.) want to force everyone to join the Russian army. There are many young people who do not want to serve, first and foremost Crimean Tatars, and they will most likely be leaving the territory of Crimea and joining the Ukrainian regular army or some specialized battalions. The only problem is that they may not be let out already. We are trying to come up with a solution at the moment.”
The state spends record sums on the army, and the NSDC secretary Oleksandr Turchynov promises to provide each recruit with all the bare necessities. Will the state really take over the volunteers’ job?
“Make your own conclusions. Judging from the budget, we spend about 90 billion UAH. This is about 1/20th of what Russia spends on its own armament. And about 1/100th of what the United States spends. Of course, this is not enough. But, in any case, if we are to compare it with the army we had when Yanukovych fled, there is a lot of progress. The more we reinforce the army, the less the aggressor’s appetite will become to move further onto our territory.”
In light of the ATO in Donbas, there is less talk of Crimea. How do we return the territories if there is active combat in the East?
“In regards to the issue of freeing occupied territories, we think that we should be doing it by non-military means. Just force the aggressor to leave the territories. There are other mechanisms for this.
They sent a lot of troops to the border with Kherson oblast. Any moment some provocation may take place, and a second front may emerge.”
How much personnel does Russia have in Crimea?
“According to our information, there are over 40,000 Russian Armed Forces servicemen there. So, while before the occupation the Black Sea Fleet included about 20,000, now there are twice as many. Another threat is that, according to the information I received only recently, they started importing missiles able to carry nuclear warheads. It is difficult to say if they have warheads or not, but they are missiles. Therefore, this is a direct violation of the Budapest Accords in regards to demilitarization, freeing Ukraine’s territory of nuclear weaponry. So, naturally, we expect that the Western countries will react adequately when we receive confirmation that they have nuclear weapons. But this situation is very bad.”
Do you agree with the NSDC that there is a risk of a full-scale invasion on Russia’s part?
I do not exclude the possibility.