Ukrainian regions ‘dreaming’ of joining Russia – ex-general
Millions of Ukrainians would welcome annexation by Russia with open arms, gladly seceding from the control of Kiev in the event of an invasion, one of the country’s former top army officers has declared as tensions skyrocket between the two former Soviet republics.
Speaking as part of an appearance on internet television channel Espreso on Saturday, Mikhail Zabrodsky set out his opinion on which oblasts have high proportions of citizens who would be in favor of breaking away from the Eastern European nation.
According to him, some Ukrainians living in the country’s left bank are “waiting for the Russian army” and would not resist in the event of an invasion. “There is no need to seize the capital,” he said, as Moscow’s forces would have a large part of the country’s territory under its control.
“This refers to that part of the population, which still dreams of some kind of Novorossiya, of becoming another province or becoming part of the Southern Federal District.” Novorossiya, or New Russia, is a historical term referring to a large swathe of territory formerly ruled as part of the Russian empire that is now under the control of Kiev.
Zabrodsky said that this includes Kharkov, Dnieper, Kherson, and Odessa. After their seizure, he believes that Russia would be able to bring to power forces that would comply with Moscow’s will. “In this way, all the goals of the hybrid campaign that started in 2014 would be achieved,” the former commander claimed.
His remarks come amid an increasingly tense situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border in recent weeks, with Western leaders sounding the alarm over a purportedly imminent Russian offensive. However, the Kremlin has repeatedly denied it has any plans to attack.
Following a diplomatic meeting in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington was raising concerns about the prospect of an incursion based on “facts and history,” referring to Moscow’s reabsorption of Crimea in 2014 following a referendum. That came shortly after the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled Kiev’s democratically elected government.
Ukraine, and most other nations across the world, have not recognized the vote as legitimate, and consider the peninsula to be part of its territory and illegally occupied by Moscow.
Russia has previously been accused of attempting to restore its historical lands. In 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya [New Russia] back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then.”
“These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. Why? God knows… Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained,” Putin said.