Russia is ?certainly? fighting NATO in Ukraine, not Ukraine itself, President Putin's deputy chief-of-staff has claimed
Ukraine's leadership has sold out its own people to fight on behalf of NATO against Russia, Sergey Kirienko, the deputy head of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said. He added that Western nations are happy to see Ukrainians die as long as it serves their interests.
"We understand very well that we are not fighting against Ukraine in the Ukrainian territory, and certainly not against the Ukrainian people. The entire NATO bloc is at war with Russia in Ukraine with Ukrainians' hands," Kirienko said in a speech on Wednesday.
He blamed the government in Kiev for the violence, accusing it of allowing the country and its people to be sacrificed in a "fundamental confrontation of the Western community against Russia."
Kirienko was addressing a forum for young Russian political scientists, which launched this week in the Moscow Region. Speaking via video link, he told attendees that it will be up to them to find new ideas and narratives to help the country take a prominent place in the future world, the shape of which is being determined by the ongoing conflict.
The Russia-West stand-off goes far beyond the kinetic conflict in Ukraine, the official said. Unprecedented economic sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on Moscow and "info-psychological attacks" directed at it are essential parts of the conflict too, he noted.
Moscow's opponents had miscalculated when they decided on their response to Russian military action in Ukraine, Kirienko said, citing classified Western documents.
"They seriously debated in early March whether they needed five million people protesting in the streets in Russia or should better go for ten million and when to expect that: by the end of March or in mid-April at the latest," he said. The planners believed that Russia "would be too busy to defend its geostrategic interests" when facing the anticipated protests, he added.
Despite this, Kirienko advised against relaxing, saying that the pressure on Russia will remain high and may become more efficient. Moscow's opponents "are pretty smart and competent people, who can learn from their mistakes," he said.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and "create powerful armed forces."
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.