Ukraine could be a bridge between Europe and Eurasia in peacetime

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What are our most important achievements over the years of independence?

— The main achievement is the final separation from imperial Russia. It was very difficult and, apparently, the consequences will be long haul. The war means that the disruption has come. For the empire uses aggression as the last argument. But separating does not mean becoming a strong, wealthy, democratic country. What happens next depends on us.

Gradually, the identity of citizens evolutionarily changes from Eurasian to European. We do not see all the foundations of the process. But this is clear judging by external markers. Our Maidans are precisely such markers.

 What does Ukraine need to become strong, democratic, wealthy?

— To become strong, we must move on. We are going slowly. We need to help the evolutionary way of transformation. If the government understands this, it contributes. If it is against, it is swept by the Maidan.

 How about now?

— Today the authorities understand. Maybe not in the way we would like. But our entire elite are a legacy of the empire. We cannot have another one yet.

How have the Ukrainians changed during this time?

— The Ukrainians have become more Ukrainians. Studies show that people are returning to religion. There is a civilization transformation by means of globalization, the Internet, television, trips to Europe. All these contribute to the change of self-determination. Reflexively we want to be European. But that does not mean that we are on this way. We still have a lot of Eurasian. This boundary passes not along the Dnipro. It goes through each of us. In peacetime, we could be a bridge between Europe and Eurasia, because we understand both of them well.

And in the military one?

— We turned out to be in the midst of the war between them. Our conflict is not linguistic, not religious, but of civilizations.

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Can we develop without external influences?

— To go your own way, you need to be strong. What way is it? All countries, our neighbors have passed it — it is a road to Europe.

Can Ukraine finish the war?

— The war was brought about by Russia. Therefore, the Kremlin has to withdraw from the conflict. How to force them to do this? Either we will become so strong that we will resist any military and informational provocation. Or it is

necessary to gather the whole civilized world, so that it will force Moscow to retreat.

Why have we not influenced the world community in any way yet?

— We are doing that. The world’s attitude toward Russia and Ukraine has changed during three years. In our favor.

But there is a feeling that the world has left us, and we are on our own with Russia.

— The world helps us. Only those who stand against the aggressor themselves are supported. The more we will resist the more we will be helped. The West cannot immediately understand — in fact, we are protecting their civilization. And such small countries — the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria — are really afraid that Putin will strike them with atomic bombs. They think about it and talk.

Why do many Europeans not know about the war in Ukraine?

— Just put yourself in their shoes. It is very comfortable there. They live well. They have achieved this by their evolution. And suddenly there is a war somewhere. To pay attention and take it as own pain? Who wants to fight when they live comfortably? The Russians are fighting because they have nothing to lose.

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Can we return the territory occupied by Russia?

— There is a probability that we will succeed. It cannot be done by war. There will be very heavy casualties. Somebody believes that Crimea and Donbass will return after the collapse of Russia. There is no certainty that they will choose the path of joining Ukraine.

Secondly, what is the collapse of Russia? It breaks down into pieces. These are not just armed neighbors, but also the ones who have nuclear weapon. Putin, whatever scumbag he has been, controls that territory and nuclear weapon. The Americans are most concerned about the fate of the weapon. Therefore, they will not let Russia collapse. This will slow down the return of Donbass and Crimea to us. Consolidated pressure of the West on Moscow can accelerate the process. But the question is not in the territories, but in people. This is the biggest loss.

What should our place be on the world stage?

— Let us look at the western countries that are more like us. Those who think that we will become Poland, France or Germany, let them forget about it. We can become like Bulgaria (10 years in the European Union, GDP has grown from 28.7 to 45 billion euros. The average salary is 235 euros — ed.). We have a lot in common. It is an Orthodox, Slavic, post-colonial and post-communist country, as well as we are. In other states – there are not such starting conditions at all.

Should this model of development be implemented by our government?

— The government must catch up with the civil society, which leads Ukraine to Europe. When the parliament, the government, the president understand these processes, the movement will begin.

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Experts often say that the world can determine the fate of Ukraine without our participation. The USA will make an with Russia and we will arrangement have a frozen conflict

— It is absurd. The frozen conflict is our dream. As in Moldova or Georgia. There is no war there, people do not die. We have the dead every day. Secondly, such hinges are spoken by those who do not understand the changes that have taken place in our state. They do not see them. What will America or Europe decide for us? So what? In 2013, the majority in the West was inclined to believe that Ukraine was Putin’s control zone. Let him do what he wants. So what? Five million went out to the Maidan. 30 thousand went as volunteers to the army. And who listened to France, Germany or the USA? Do people want to live with Russia? No. And nobody will force them to do so. 7–8 million volunteers represent 15 percent of the population. This is the force that may preserve us even when the West leaves. Of course, this will be a bad script, but it will not break the way of this country.

What do you dream about?

— I dream of the end of the war. How to make our country comfortable, prosperous, wealthy. This can only be dreamed of, because we will always be disturbed. And we will always be overcoming this resistance.

What leader do we need to implement this?

— The one who will follow the civil society and will understand the essence of the civilizational choice. Then he/she will be able to lead this evolutionary movement.

The conversation was held by Iryna PATLATIUK