[Exclusive] Korean-style armistice out of the question for Ukraine, says defense council secretary

Posted on : 2023-01-10 17:20 KST Modified on : 2023-01-10 17:20 KST
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, says that force is the only language terrorists understand
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, poses for a photo following an interview with the Hankyoreh in the council’s office in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, on Jan. 3. (Noh Ji-won/The Hankyoreh)
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, poses for a photo following an interview with the Hankyoreh in the council’s office in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, on Jan. 3. (Noh Ji-won/The Hankyoreh)

“We will not have any ‘38th parallel.’ This is our land. And we’re not going to give in to anyone,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, during an interview with the Hankyoreh at the council’s office in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, on Jan. 3. Danilov added that he thinks the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 “was a mistake.”

Danilov was pushing back against the Korean-style armistice model that some Western media outlets and experts have recently suggested could be a solution to Russia’s war against Ukraine. While Danilov recognized the need for a demilitarized zone between the two countries, he said that zone ought to be set up in Russian territory, about 200 to 300 km from the border. But he added that such a demilitarized zone could only be set up after Russia withdrew from all Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula, and paid reparations for its war crimes.

Hankyoreh (Hani): There are some who believe Russia could conduct large-scale strikes in the first three months of 2023. What do you think Russia’s general plan is for this year?

Oleksiy Danilov: Attacks on civilian infrastructure, energy sector, maternity hospitals — these are the classic tactics of terrorist organizations, and the Russian Federation is one. There’s nothing new. Will they continue those attacks? I'm sorry to say so, but yes. That’s thanks to the contract they have with Iran for supplying drones, which they’re using to damage our infrastructure.

Hani: There are reports of massive losses on not only the Russian side, but also the Ukrainian side in Bakhmut. Can you give a picture of the situation in the city?

Danilov: As for Bakhmut, the situation there is difficult. For more than four months, the main goal of the army groups under the control of Prigozhin and Kadyrov has been to gain control over the city. But their efforts have been in vain. They’re unable to do anything. As for the casualties: the ratio is 1 to 7. Unfortunately, for every seven dead Russians, we lose one of our soldiers.

Hani: Beyond Bakhmut, how would you rate the situation in Kreminna, Svatove, Makiivka and Chulakivka?

Danilov: The situation in those areas is consistently difficult. The Russians are trying to do everything possible to stop the advance of our army. But our army is steadily advancing in those directions. As for Kreminna and Svatove — those settlements will be returned to our control, just like all the territories that belonged to our country as of 1991.

Speaking of Makiivka, it so happened that Russia has brought a huge number of its military personnel there. They decided to accommodate them in one of the vocational schools, and something struck it.

Besides that, they decided to store their ammo in the same location, which detonated at the moment of the strike. The number of their casualties on that day has to be the highest in the last two to three months. We killed more only at the beginning of the war.

Hani: Did you expect that amount of casualties in Makiivka?

Danilov: This is war. The top priority right now for our army is to kill all those who have invaded our territory. Our intelligence service is working flawlessly. Apart from that, I’m more than sure that inside those Kadyrov and Wagner units, there are people who are helping us.

Hani: Why do you believe it’s necessary to deploy the Patriot anti-air missile system within Ukrainian territory?

Danilov: We were asking for those systems since the first days of March last year, during the active phase of the war. And even before that, we were discussing help in the form of those systems with our friends and partners, starting from Oct. 3, 2021. Around the time Russians started openly preparing for the invasion, we started asking our partners for the maximum amount of help. But unfortunately, they didn’t believe us and only gave us lighter types of weaponry. Those weapons are still very powerful tools on the battlefield — NLAW, Javelin, Stinger. But they were insufficient for completing more complex military tasks.

But now we’ve proved that we can defeat the so-called “second-largest army in the world.” We’re being trusted much more, which changes the situation. I think that the sooner they decide to give us tanks, F-16 fighter jets and other more powerful weapons, the safer the countries of Europe will be able to feel. If they don’t want to use those tanks themselves to fight Russians in Frankfurt, Paris, Berlin and other European cities, they should decide to give us those weapons as soon as possible.

Hani: The West is now enthusiastic in its support of Ukraine, but what would happen if it stopped supporting Ukraine at some point?

Danilov: There are two groups of people in any country. One group says that they have to provide the maximum amount of help as soon as possible. The other one says they have to be very careful with choosing what they can give, in order not to anger the “modern-day Hitler.” We know the names of people from both those groups. After a short period of time, all those names will be known publicly, and they will be ashamed of their position, which is causing the deaths of children every day.

There can be no compromise because that will only make things more difficult later. You can never reach an agreement with terrorists. Imagine that, after the 9/11 attacks, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had sat down at the table to talk with the president of the US. What would the American people say? They would carry that president straight out of his office. His political career would be over in a moment. You can only talk to terrorists using force.

Hani: What military support does Ukraine need to win the war as quickly as possible? Are any other weapons confirmed to be on their way other than the Patriot?

Danilov: We will of course keep receiving new weaponry; the only question is when. We needed it yesterday, but we may not get it until tomorrow. And in this time from yesterday to tomorrow, our soldiers are losing their lives.

Hani: Are there any obstacles to Ukrainian troops using weapons provided by the West? What efforts are they making to speed up the training?

Danilov: As for the training of our military, our soldiers can complete in two to three months a training course that would take Western troops around six months to complete. That’s because they’re incredibly motivated.

Hani: Besides Western military support, is Ukraine preparing to strengthen its own defense capabilities? Can you give me a specific example?

Danilov: We were making a lot of efforts in this field even before the war. At the moment, of course, this has become one of our top priorities. When we sent the Russian flagship Moskva to the bottom of the Black Sea in April with two of our own Neptune rockets, it proved the capabilities of our army.

Hani: Do you think it will be possible to regain all of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea?

Danilov: I don’t “think” so — I know that will happen. It’s a huge mistake when people say the only one responsible for this war is Putin himself. All those who came to murder us, all the politicians who have voted for it, and the portion of the Russian population who support this — they will all bear responsibility for this, just as the Germans paid after the Second World War. Someday they will feel shame for their actions, and believe me, they will be the ones cursing the name of Putin.

Hani: Recent reports say that Ukrainian troops have attacked Russian territory in ways that go beyond preventing Russian attacks. Is that part of a deliberate plan on the part of Ukraine?

Danilov: I want to note that we are exclusively attacking military targets and military infrastructure: bridges, airfields, oil storage facilities. Anything that’s related to their war machine. We’re not attacking civilians.

Hani: What are Ukraine’s conditions for declaring a ceasefire or ending the war?

Danilov: There aren’t many — only four. They get out of all territory that belonged to Ukraine as of 1991. They pay reparations for what they’ve done. There will be an international tribunal for Putin and his followers. And there will be security guarantees assuring that nothing like this will ever happen on Ukrainian territory. Only then can there be any talks with Russia.

Hani: Some foreign media and experts say Ukraine could opt for a Korean-style armistice by declaring a demilitarized zone between the two countries and setting up institutional mechanisms such as the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission to prevent conflict. Do you see that as feasible?

Danilov: We will not have any “38th parallel.” History has taught us that lesson, and we know what happens after that. We feel sorry for Koreans, that they still haven’t been united. I think the decision that was made in 1953 was a mistake. It’s an enormous tragedy for many Korean families.

We’re losing a lot of our soldiers in this war. Right now Russia, and Mr. Kozak in particular, are trying to persuade whoever they can around the world to propose this Korean model. We cannot and will not agree to that. This is our land. And we’re not going to give it to anyone.

There does need to be a demilitarized zone, but it will be situated somewhere else. It will be placed in Russian territory, 200 to 300 kilometers away from their border with us. That area inside the territory of Russia has to be completely demilitarized so that they’ll never feel the desire to attack us again. And not only us, but also Belarus, Georgia, or any other country that shares a border with Russia. We’ve defanged this viper, and now all that’s left is to put it down for good. And we will achieve that.

Also, during our lifetime, the Russian Federation will cease to exist in its current state. Its form, borders and territory will change drastically. Only then will the civilized world feel safe. That’s in the world’s interest, although some have yet to realize the true nature of Russia.

Hani: When do you think the war will end?

Danilov: That depends on a lot of things. Nobody in the world could say with certainty that the war will end on such-and-such a date.

The world has become very unstable since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China. And even now, we still have no definite answer about what actually happened there. That’s quite peculiar in the modern world, when it has become increasingly difficult to keep anything hidden.

If COVID-19 was a “black swan,” let’s see what kinds of black swans will land on Russian territory. I only know the flock will be numerous.

By Noh Ji-won, Berlin correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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