Civil war in Ukraine at the door, leading expert on Ukraine says
HÜRRİYET / ISTANBUL
Director of the Harvard University Black Sea Security Program and the U.S.-Russia Security Program, Sergei KonoplyovThe situation in Ukraine is very volatile right now and nobody can guarantee that it will not become a full-fledged civil war, a leading expert on Ukraine has said.
“We should consider both internal factors which include a provisional government which is not very capable of dealing with such a complex line of issues in Ukraine and also a lot of external players which have their own interests. Nobody can guarantee that it will not become a full fledge-civil war,” Dr. Sergei Konoplyov, a former officer of the Soviet Armed Forces and former member of the National Security Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament, told daily Hürriyet in an interview on May 8.
The current director of the Harvard University Black Sea Security Program and the U.S.-Russia Security Program, Konoplyov is currently visiting Istanbul to attend a conference organized by the Karaköy Institute at Kadir Has University.
Risk of division for Ukraine
Konoplyov said there was also a potential for the risk of division in Ukraine. “There were already examples of several small states in Ukraine 100 years ago. They were based on the same division line as it looks today. If it happened 100 years ago, why can it not happen right now?” he added.
Two southeastern cities, Donetsk and Lugansk, are planning to hold referendums on their regions’ future as part of Ukraine on May 11.
Konoplyov said the people of Donetsk were afraid that the people who came to power in Kyiv will punish Donetsk for what happened in the past six years.
“This is because it was people from Donetsk who were ruling Ukraine before. They are afraid that they will be treated as second-class citizens now. That’s why many of them have decided to go out and defend their territory,” Konoplyov said.
Russia using hybrid war
Konoplyov also said there were some military personnel from Russia in the eastern part of Ukraine who are not wearing any uniform.
“Russia is using a so-called hybrid war in Ukraine. It doesn’t use traditional armed forces as in Crimea. It uses some people without uniforms. So officially they are not part of the Russian army but they are still doing something for the Russian army. It is kind of a different warfare and it is very difficult to tell if they are from Russia or not because both people from Ukraine in this region and Russians speak the same language,” he added.
Cold War never ended
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a very powerful man and he also protected his neighborhood. He doesn’t want to have hostile countries around Russia. He thinks there is a plan by the U.S. to weaken Russia by bringing NATO closer to Russia in order to make sure that Russia will not become a regional security power. But you need to remember that Russia is the only country in the world which could destroy the U.S. completely with the nuclear weapons it has. So the Cold War became invisible, but it still existed,” he said.
Turkey’s message to Russia
Konoplyov said if that NATO decides to take a joint action against Russia in Ukraine, then Turkey will be forced to be part of that. “On the one side, Turkey has very good relationships with Russia militarily, economically and politically. So Turkey should use its diplomatic power to make sure that Russia understands Turkey’s position clearly before something happens. Turkey should send a very clear message to Putin that Turkey is bound by its international agreements and it is not an enemy of Russia,” he said.
Konoplyov will be lecturing at a program called “Strategic management for leaders of non-government organizations” which will be held by Harvard University in collaboration with the Kadir Has University in Istanbul for the next couple of weeks.