• Envoy terms those trying to please former colonial masters ‘on wrong side of history’
• Says peace talks with Ukraine to include reunification with Russia of annexed regions
February 24 marked one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. In this interview, the Star’s Eliud Kibii engages Russian Ambassador Dmitry Maksimychev on the war, its implications and the possibility of peace talks.
It is now one year since the Russia invasion of Ukraine. What does Russia seek to achieve by the end of this year?
The goals and objectives of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine remain the same as announced by President Putin in February last year. That is demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, protection of the lives and rights of millions of Russians in Ukraine, removal of the security threats to Russia from Ukraine, and establishment of an effective system of security guarantees for Russia.
These goals and objectives will certainly be achieved. By peaceful or military means. The exact timing will, to a large extent, depend on the capacity of the Kiev regime and its NATO masters to come to senses and admit the inevitable.
What is important to understand, is that the achievement of these goals will benefit the people of not only Russia, but of Ukraine and Europe as well. The Ukrainians will have a chance to return to the path of peace, sustainable development and mutually beneficial cooperation, from which they were diverted by EU and US. They somehow managed to corrupt and zombify the Ukrainian ruling cliques using hate-mongering and plain deceit.
As of February 12, 2023, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had verified a total of 7,199 civilian deaths during this war. Of them, 438 were children. Furthermore, 11,756 people were reported to have been injured. The real numbers could be higher. Russia has also lost many soldiers and equipment, and has been sidelined internationally. How necessary was this war?
The death of any civilians in any conflict is always a tragedy, and it is the duty of all states to avoid civilian casualties. The only way to avoid civilian casualties in Ukraine was to implement the Minsk Agreements approved by a UN Security Council resolution in 2015 and to agree with the proposal by the Russian Federation to start a meaningful dialogue on security in Europe way back in 2021. None of this happened.
Ex-Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Ex-President Hollande of France, Ex-President Poroshenko of Ukraine and the incumbent Ukrainian President Zelensky all publicly confessed that they had cheated and deliberately conspired to sabotage the Minsk Agreements with the sole purpose of giving the Ukrainian military more time and more weapons to regroup, rearm, and prepare for an armed attack on the Russian-populated Donbass republics in early March 2022. With full NATO support, of course.
By February 2022, the bombardment and shelling of civilian populations in Donbass by the Ukrainian military steadily escalated and reached an absolutely untenable level with dozens of civilians being killed every day.
Therefore, the conflict could not be avoided.
Someone had to put an end to the carnage. It so happened that this task befell Russia. It was not our choice, it was a necessity.
Now, on civilian casualties. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is apparently using the data provided by the Kiev regime, which makes it, to say the least, questionable. Apart from that, the overall numbers presented seem to imply that all those people were killed by the Russian Army, which is a lie. HCHR, to be credible, should have provided a more detailed breakdown specifying how many civilians were killed by the Ukrainian military who, as you know, routinely use human shields as combat tactics, and also shell the civilian residential areas of towns and cities they claim are theirs before retreating. Apart from that, it should also have indicated the number of civilians killed, including children, in Donbass by the Kiev military, armed groups, including neo-nazi battalions, over the last eight years since 2014. It is well documented that in 2014-2021 at least 15 thousand people were killed in Donbass, most of them ethnic Russian civilians who were massacred by the Kiev regime. Among them, at least 149 children.
It would also be useful for HCRC, to be true to their human rights mandate, to report on the number of political murders, forced disappearances, cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, and intimidation against political opponents in Ukraine, as well as against ethnic and language minorities.
Is Russia willing to negotiate and if yes, what would be its conditions?
As opposed to the Ukrainian and NATO ruling cliques, Russia has never refused to negotiate. Moreover, as early as March 2022 (barely one month into the operation in Ukraine), Russia agreed to start direct negotiations with Ukraine, first in Belarus and later in Istanbul. As recently confirmed by former Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett, a draft agreement on the cessation of hostilities and further conditions for peace, including mutual security guarantees and Ukraine’s neutral status, was almost ready when UK, EU and US intervened publicly and forced Zelensky to continue the fighting. Judge for yourself who is responsible for the death and destruction in Ukraine.
We are ready for serious negotiations that would allow us to achieve the goals and objectives of the operation and also reflect the new reality in the zone of the conflict. By that, I mean the reunification with Russia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, the Zaporozhie Region, and the Kherson Region. These are the results of legitimate referendums in these entities, and no one can change that. The longer the fighting goes on, the more the reality that Ukraine and NATO will have to accept will change. We know for a fact that the people of other Ukrainian territories also desire to join Russia. They are waiting for us to liberate them.
The war has disrupted supply chains of grain, especially towards Africa at a time the Horn of Africa, for instance, is facing the worst drought in four decades. Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling agricultural infrastructure, burning fields and stealing grain. Russia, on the other hand, says most of the exported grain was going to Europe instead of the world’s hungriest nations. Is Russia using food as a weapon?
This is the most retarded thing that NATO and their propaganda machine keep repeating in all their outlets.
Just so you know, Russia is not using food as a weapon for the simple reason that it would be against our own interest.
Russia is the largest producer and exporter of grain in the world. We earn much money from it. Who would be interested in restricting Russia’s export anywhere, including Africa, given that grain is a perishable commodity? The obvious answer is NATO. They want to hurt us economically and do not care about food security in Africa.
Ukraine is also a big producer and exporter of grain, but it has never been the “breadbasket of Africa” as the West is trying portray them. Their problem is that most of their exports were channeled through the Black Sea port of Odessa, which is also a major Ukrainian naval base that they had mined out of fear of the Russian Navy. Basically, what happened was that they themselves locked their own merchant fleet in Odessa thus blocking their own exports.
To get out of this situation, they, apparently with the intellectual support of the NATO propagandists, made up a stupid story that it was Russia who blocked them to starve the world.
In reality, Russia’s only concern was to prevent NATO from using the Odessa port to supply weapons to Ukraine. Therefore, we agreed to the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative whereby the Ukrainians would demine the port and start the export of whatever grain they had left in it while the Russian Navy would inspect all outgoing and incoming ships to exclude the traffic of weapons.
And no, we don’t burn the grain fields or the storage facilities. Neither do we destroy agriculture or steal the grain. We have enough grain ourselves. It is another imbecilic NATO lie that actually betrays their own thinking, because they would do exactly that if they were given a chance. Everyone gauges others against themselves.
If you seriously want to understand the nature of the current global food security crisis, you should admit that it has two aspects.
One, the world economy is currently rushing into a full-out global crisis that is being created by irresponsible and inept economic and financial policies of the western oligarchies. Hence, the looming global debt crisis, the soaring prices on commodities, inflation, inequality, erosion of the middle class, etc.
Two, being unable to even comprehend the systemic nature of the crisis, the only thing the western “elites” could think of was the destruction and pillage of Russia that would give them access to the riches of my country for free. That, in their sick minds, would allow them to prosper another thirty to forty years without changing their already bankrupt economic model.
For that, they provoked the proxy hybrid war with Russia in Ukraine, accompanied by literally thousands (!) of illegal and illegitimate unilateral “sanctions” designed to cut us off from financial markets, payment systems, trade platforms, transport and logistical systems. All that was meant to precipitate our economic collapse.
Unfortunately for them, they did not understand the resilience and vitality of the Russian economy. Neither did they realize that the world had changed since the colonial period, and they are not the centre of the universe anymore. Development is now driven by other nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These new drivers are more productive, more creative, more innovative, and, finally, more competitive than the old obsolescent European or American economies plagued with corruption, inefficiencies, distortions, and imbalances. Therefore, their “sanctions” do not work.
Food security is suffering from both those factors. The only thing they have achieved so far is disruptions of food supplies to the developing countries. What else could you expect from imposing restrictions on Russia, the world’s largest producer and exporter of food and fertilisers?
Therefore, it is clear that it is the West that uses food as a weapon against Russia. But even that they are doing in such an incompetent way that they hurt themselves (look at their inflation and cost of living and infrastructural crises) and the developing countries who have absolutely nothing to do with their evil designs.
A Zambian student in Russia, Lemekhai Nyirenda, reportedly signed up for the Wagner Group to fight in Ukraine in a bid to get a reduced sentence over drug charges. He died in the war. Same case with Nemes Tarimo, a Tanzanian national. Would you clarify the circumstances they joined Wagner Group on the frontline?
What do you want me to clarify? I am neither Zambian, nor Tanzanian. I am Ambassador of Russia to Kenya. The Wagner Group is a private security company that operates in accordance with the contracts that it has with governments and private entities. It is not operating in Kenya. Ask them directly.
The group has also been accused of human rights abuses and creating instability, including in CAR and Mali. What is your reaction to this?
As I said, The Wagner Group is a private security company that operates in accordance with agreements with sovereign governments who feel that they need support to address their security challenges. You should ask those governments how they feel about it, and if they are satisfied with the Group’s services. As far as I know, they are effective and competitive.
Of course, this disturbs the interests of some old colonialist powers in Africa that for decades were using their armed forces or mercenaries, including terrorist groups, to destabilize countries of the continent and rob them of their riches and bleed them white. Now, they have been asked to leave.
Of course, this makes them unhappy. Hence the cheap propaganda on human rights. Ironically, it is those very colonial and neocolonial powers that have a well-documented record of pillage, human right violations and even genocide in Africa who spread those lies. Not to mention slave trade for which none of them repented and paid.
Russia has acted as an anti-imperialist force that supports the African struggle against (neo)colonialism. Critics, however, accuse Moscow of engaging in predatory practices on the continent. How do you respond to them?
Thank you for this excellent question, which is very important for Africa! You are right. Russia has always been an anti-imperialist force without which the African continent would still be under colonial domination. Now, we are as anti-imperialist as ever!
There is one important thing that the Africans should understand, especially those who still hope to please their former colonial masters. The current conflict is not a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is a war that the collective West is waging for the American domination in the world. If they win (it will never happen, but theoretically), you will see a replay of the old colonial system. The old unipolar world is dying in agony, disgrace, and convulsions. They are still dangerous and they may inflict a lot of pain on the world. But historically they are doomed.
The pressure and intimidation is great but what is at stake is much greater. A new multipolar world based on respect of equality, sovereignty, and international law is being born. It will be difficult to achieve it but it is worth it.
Those who cling to bad habits of serving their old principals may find themselves among the losers on the wrong side of history.
Now, on predatory practices. It is funny but again, it is the old colonialists, racists, and predators who spread these lies. Ours is a fair and mutually beneficial model of cooperation, and we are happy that more and more African countries prefer that to neocolonialism that has been exploiting Africa for the last six decades.
Moscow has been accused of disinformation particularly during this war. Russia accuses the media of pushing the West’s narrative. Who is innocent here?
Let’s look at the facts. The entire international information environment is totally controlled by the West and dominated by the western narrative. Everything that differs from the mainstream media views is being systematically censored and suppressed. They call disinformation any fact that does not fit into their very primitive narrative.
Especially so during the conflict in Ukraine. When we say that Ukraine is a totalitarian state heavily relying on the terror unleashed against their own people by armed nazi groups, which is well documented, they call it disinformation. When we say, that, since 2014, more than five million Ukrainians, including at least seven hundred thousand children, fled to Russia for life, safety, and shelter they call it disinformation simply because they do not like it. When we say that millions of people in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhie and Kherson voted in referendums to leave Ukraine that treated them as second-class citizens and unite with Russia, they say it is disinformation. Now, all these regions are voluntarily forming their militias to fight for their freedom against the Kiev regime and, again, they say it’s disinformation. But these are facts. It shows that the West is afraid of truth and fair competition.
They have banned and blocked all Russian international media and even internet resources. They organize seminars and conferences in Africa to intimidate local media from using the information that comes from Russia.
Fear makes them suppress freedom of speech and expression not only domestically but globally.
You decide who is innocent here.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made numerous visits to Africa in what is widely seen as a push back against Western influence. Talk about the visits and maybe why Kenya has not been among the states he has visited.
Indeed, Foreign Minister Lavrov visited a number of African countries to discuss further expansion and development of our multifaceted cooperation with them, but, again, it is the West who talks of “pushing back and influences”. I think this betrays their sense of insecurity and even guilty conscience. We do not see Africa as a battleground of influences. We never use these terms. We see Africa as a continent of cooperation and development. We think that we have a lot to offer to Africans for sustainable development if the West does not meddle in our relations.
The choice of the countries for these visits was motivated by the level of our relations and concrete proposals for cooperation that are already at an advanced stage.
This year in December marks 60 years of diplomatic relations with Kenya. How would you describe the status of the bilateral ties?
Overall, we have positive relations. I wish we achieved a better level of trade. Trade and economic cooperation are two-way streets. Both our countries and economic operators should take additional efforts to make themselves mutually attractive.
We are ready.
President William Ruto expressed willingness to buy fuel from Russia. Is this a matter under consideration and what will be Russia’s priority areas of cooperation with the new government?
We are ready to consider any serious proposals for cooperation. As I said, Russia is a major global producer and supplier of food, fertilisers, energy in all its forms, all kinds of chemicals and industrially manufactured goods. We are also a major buyer of tea, flowers, fruit and vegetables. All these could be traded between Russia and Kenya.
Times are difficult but with good will, ingenuity, and determination, we, together, can move mountains.
The Second Russia-Africa Summit after Sochi will be coming up this year. What should we expect from this meeting?
The Second Russia-Africa Summit will take the strategic cooperation between Russia and the continent to a new level. Russia sees the Summit as a unique platform for a free and frank multilateral dialogue able to collectively produce innovative ideas for addressing the most pressing global challenges, most importantly, in sustainable development.
We expect it to generate new initiatives and concrete agreements. We also view the Summit as an opportunity to reassert the principles of the new multipolar world firmly based on equality, sovereignty and international law, and free from unilateral diktat.