Staunton, September 12 – Konstantin Zatulin, the director of the Russian Institute for CIS Countries, has bluntly described Moscow’s war aims in Ukraine as directed toward the establishment of complete control over Ukraine’s foreign and domestic policies and a privileged position in that country for the Russian language and the Moscow Patriarchate.
Speaking in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea earlier this week, Zatulin said that Moscow’s policy toward Ukraine rests on three “main principles,” all of which taken together would reduce to almost nothing Ukraine’s ability to act in any way independently from what the Russian Federation wants.
First of all, the Moscow politician said, “Ukraine must become a federative state.” That is because “the eastern subjects” of such a federation “where people speak Russian and have their own relationship to history will always be a guarantee for Russia that Ukraine will not be able to adopt anti-Russian positions.”
Moreover, he continued, “the federalization of Ukraine will give Moscow a voice in the internal affairs [of Ukraine] via [its influence in these] eastern regions.”
Second, Zatulin continued, Russian must become a state language in Ukraine not only because of the presence of Russian speakers in that country but because “it is impossible to be an anti-Russian state with Russian as a state language.”
And third, he added, Moscow will not allow a split in the Russian Orthodox Church between Ukrainians and Russians because “the very fact that people go to one church plays an enormous role and will not allow for bloodletting.”
According to Zatulin, “the most immediate tasks” of the Russian authorities are not to allow the formation of any alliance in Ukraine directed against Moscow. Whether the West or Ukraine likes it or not, “Crimea is de facto in Russia,” and Moscow must ensure that “Ukraine not be consolidated on an anti-Russian basis.”
Among other things, the Moscow figure said, this means that Ukraine cannot become a member of the Western alliance. “Moscow is in a position to defend its interests, and ‘the expansion of NATO is impossible without Russia’s permission.” To any suggestions in that regard, “we say no.”
In other comments, Zatulin expressed regret that the Minsk accords did not give official recognition to the Donetsk and Lugansk “people’s republics,” but he suggested that this mistake could and would be corrected in the future.