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YAN VALETOV ABOUT WHAT CAN BE CONSIDERED A UKRAINIAN VICTORY

YAN VALETOV ABOUT WHAT CAN BE CONSIDERED A UKRAINIAN VICTORY
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Ukrainians desperately want to win by defending their land, their freedom, and their right to live. But how similarly and realistically do they understand this victory? We asked famous Ukrainian writer Yan Valetov to share his thoughts on this topic. His unique fusion of artistic and analytical thinking has repeatedly allowed him to give correct assessments of the present and accurate forecasts of the future.

 

ARE UKRAINE AND RUSSIA CAPABLE OF PLAYING THE LONG GAME?

 

In April 2022, a friend of mine remarked: «Yan, pay attention, the Ukrainians have not accused each other of all mortal sins for a month and a half!» Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for more, although the Russian threat has not disappeared. Russia is still a resource-rich country that can play the long game. But is Ukraine capable of playing it the same?

I am a missile engineer by education. So it’s funny to me to hear for two years, that Russia is about to run out of missiles. Or that the Russian people will rise and overthrow Putin. I am not judging what is happening by gossip — I have pretty specific personal experience. I traveled a lot through Russia and have an idea of how its «deep nation» lives, about which those who have never seen it in their lives talk so much…

 

WAR IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO RUSSIA

 

In 1914, the Minister of War said to Nicholas II: «Sire, war is the best thing that could happen to Russia!» The current war is the best thing that could have happened to Putin’s country. Russians now have something in their lives that gives meaning to their existence.

If before they were stupidly drinking and their own state considered them as nothing, now they have a chance to «punish the Khokhols» and leave a mark in history. And add to this the material incentive.

Yesterday, you were living poorly and dying slowly in a godforsaken village, beating your wife and begging your mother-in-law for vodka. And today, you are a Russian bogatyr in Bakhmut whose death will provide your family with payments and help to escape from poverty.

 

BAD, BUT NOT FATAL

 

Everything that is happening to Russia is not a catastrophe for it. It will not collapse under the weight of sanctions, as expected, although people will live even worse. Therefore, Ukrainians need to look not so much at Russia but at themselves and stop generating conflicts inside the country. And I am not even saying this — the historical context speaks for me.

There have been situations in history in which Ukraine missed its chance. Yes, Petliura and Skoropadskyi appear to us as poorly compatible characters. But together, they could do what they could never do separately. By the way, White Russia lost to the Bolsheviks for the same reason — everyone saw himself as an emperor.

 

FOR NATIONAL ANGER YOU NEED NATION AND ANGER

 

By the way, the Whites stopped 200 kilometers from Moscow. The exact amount was not enough for Prigozhin, whose armed units quickly passed from Rostov to the capital. And the authorities were powerless in front of them. However, the story of Prigozhin is not only about him but also about the «deep nation.» Did Prigozhin’s march on Moscow lead to a change of mood and rebellions in Russia? No! This is the best answer to those who hope that «national anger» will sweep Putin away.

That requires nation and anger, both of which we are not witnessing in Russia. I’m about to say something that will be followed by an avalanche of hate… My hope to end this war has nothing to do with Ukrainian tanks in Red Square. The war will end when Russia changes internally enough to stop the desire for our destruction.

 

RUSSIA IS A TERRITORY OF HATE

 

We are doomed to be next to a huge, strong power whose people hate us. Initially, because we are not like them. But the longer the war goes on, the more reasons for Russian hatred arise. If only because the number of families where there are dead is growing.

Some of them will simply rejoice at the «grave» rubles, but the bulk of them will react in the expected way — with hatred. Russians didn’t even like their own people very much. What to say about non-Russians — Churkas, Khokhols, Khachs.

If Russians want to denazify someone, they should start from themselves. I have never seen such caveman anti-Semitism as in Russia. However, it was not easy for a Russian to come face-to-face with a Jew. Jews inhabited the outskirts of the empire, where the notorious sedentary line was established.

 

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NAZISM OF DENACIFICATORS

 

Russian propaganda portrays Ukrainians as anti-Semites. There have indeed been terrible episodes in the history of Ukraine, such as the Koliivshchyna. However, it is the Russian word «pogrom» that, for some reason, is present in all languages of the world without translation. Ukrainians and Jews have some terrible things to say about each other.

But it is different from the Russian Empire — it practiced the Roman principle of «divide and conquer,» doing everything to prevent people from liking each other. Even though Ukrainians, from Razumovsky to Brezhnev, had a role in the creation of the empire, their image was constructed as negative.

In Russian perception, the Ukrainian is a greedy and devious «little brother.» And now the image of a «bloodthirsty Khokhol» has been added to it. Now, the Ukrainian armed forces have added even more colors and realism to this picture.

 

THE FORMER MEANING OF «VICTORY» IS NOT RELEVANT

 

We are doomed to live next to the Russians — 2000 km of border will not disappear. Even if we imagine that we have reached the Ural Mountains, then what? Russia is protected by vast territory and resources. It is challenging to defeat them in a head-on collision. Therefore, we should not think that our desired outcome of the war will look like a red flag over the Reichstag.

Our victory will not be the same as in World War II. Not because we are stupid or weak, but because of the laws of geography — you can’t swallow a piece five times bigger than your mouth. The prospect of breaking up Russia and digesting it piece by piece is also quite phantom. The Ukrainian resistance, alas, has made the Russian people even more monolithic.

 

ARE THE BORDERS OF ’91 A VICTORY?

 

Suppose we have reached those borders. What’s next? If the war continues, it is not a victory. Standing on the border, you can bombard the enemy’s territory for a long time, destroying everything you can reach. How can such a duel end, considering that they have 17 million kilometers and 12 time zones?

Reaching the borders of ’91, we are unlikely to wipe the Russian economy to dust and thus stop the war. Russia, thrown back to the borders of ’91, will continue to «squeeze» us. This will require from us a colossal tension of forces, the ability to develop in the conditions of war, to build factories underground, and to place production abroad…

 

NATO UMBRELLA

 

I see only one way to stop the war — to become a member of NATO or, in some other form, to get security guarantees from partners. If a shot fired by Russia would mean war with the Alliance, it will have to think about the consequences. Let’s not go into conspiracy theories and wonder why our partners are not in a hurry to give us such guarantees.

I believe the reason is trivial fear. A civilized person is not sure that a savage with a club can behave in a civilized manner. Where’s the guarantee that even after a stern warning, he won’t lunge at you? Of course, a return volley of 2.5 thousand tomahawks is terrible for a savage, but he can give no less terrible response.

 

UKRAINIAN VICTORY HAS MANY DIMENSIONS

 

Putin’s propaganda can declare anything as a victory. But Ukraine should seriously think about what should be considered a victory. We saved Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Kherson — this is, although interim, but a victory. However, the loss of the south and ports created monstrous problems for our economy.

Today, the optimal formula for Ukrainian victory is the NATO umbrella. However, it may be associated with heavy losses. But our victory may have several non-obvious dimensions. You begin to think about this when you visit the frontline regions.

I was recently in Pokrovsk. I was struck by the optimism, energy, and belief in the victory of the people who live there! Just 42 kilometers from Donetsk, you see a town living a full life, people who are not depressed or afraid. Under Russian shelling, they behave like they have already won.

When will the final Ukrainian victory come for them? It seems to me precisely at the moment when Russian missiles will one day stop falling on Pokrovsk.

 

UKRAINIAN PROPHECIES: writer Yan Valetov on the lessons of history, the price of freedom and belief in miracles

 


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