Ukraine has bet on losers – ex-Zelensky aide
Ukrainians have repeatedly joined the losing side at key points in their history and are likely acting against their own interests once again, former presidential adviser Aleksey Arestovich has said.
President Vladimir Zelensky’s former top spin doctor resigned last January and has since moved to the US, claiming that Kiev wants him jailed on politically motivated charges.
“Our problem is that at turning points in our history, we bet on the side that is losing,” Arestovich wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday. “The point is not to bet on the winners, the point is that over and over again we do not bet on ourselves and our own interests.”
As one example, Arestovich mentioned Pavel Skoropadsky, a Russian cavalry officer who sided with Imperial Germany in 1918 to head the ‘Hetmanate of Ukraine’, but had to flee when the Central Powers surrendered to the Entente.
Arestovich also brought up the Great Northern War (1700-1721), when Cossack chief Ivan Mazepa sided with Sweden against Russia, only to die in exile after Peter the Great routed the Swedes at Poltava in 1709. Zelensky’s government has moved to honor Mazepa in temples seized from the canonical Orthodox Church.
“It is very likely that we are now moving towards repeating the same history,” Arestovich lamented, pointing to missed opportunities to stop the conflict with Russia and make peace.
“One of the first was during the negotiations in Istanbul, where there was a real opportunity to end the war in positions better than they were before the full-scale invasion, but we decided to fight further,” he said. “There will never be more opportunities like this.”
War with Russia “became inevitable” when Ukraine declared its intent to join the EU and NATO, Arestovich wrote, but Kiev bet on the protection of the West instead of preparing for an existential conflict.
“We have had two options: prepare for a real existential war and wage it at all levels, so that for us it really is a matter of life and death, or pursue a policy that corresponds to our real capabilities, intentions and interests,” he said.
In an interview with the British outlet UnHerd published earlier this week, Arestovich also touched on the March 2022 Istanbul talks, saying they were “90% complete” but that something or someone changed Zelensky’s mind at the last moment. He would neither confirm nor deny that former British PM Boris Johnson had a role in the matter.
Since then, Arestovich told UnHerd, the conflict has expanded to become a clash between the Global South and the Collective West.