Interview with Major General (R) Volodymyr HAVRYLOV
Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine
Volodymyr Havrylov was appointed to the position of the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine one month prior the invasion of Russian troops to Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
After retirement in 2018, he devoted himself to the rehabi–litation of wounded veterans and headed the Veterans Dozen Foundation until January 2022.
His military career included service in air defense units, analytical units of the Ministry of Defense, command of the Military-diplomatic academy, and serving as a defense attaché of Ukraine in the United States, United Kingdom and Romania.
In March 2019 he was awarded the US order The Legion of Merit, “for exceptionally meritorious service as Defense Attaché of Ukraine from October 2015 to June 2018, which directly contributed to the pursuit of regional stability and enhancing capabilities and readiness of both countries”.
Vasile SIMILEANU: The war unleashed by the Kremlin is unjust and has negative consequences from the point of view of applying the principles of international law. Humanity was stunned by Moscow’s decision to annex the territories of another independent state, which were also recognized at the international level including Russia. In this meaning, please explain the purpose of this war (what Russia wants to achieve in it), because there is a lot of speculation and misinformation about it.
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: The main goal of the kremlin is to restore a modern version of the russian/Eurasian empire on the territory of the former ussr. Independent Ukraine is the only obstacle on this path. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to the US President Ronald Reagan, once said: “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire”. This is due to the fact that the natural, human and intellectual resources of Ukraine were critically important for the expansion and maintenance of the conquered territories of the russian empire starting from the middle of the 17th century. Ukraine’s withdrawal from russia’s sphere of influence and its gradual integration into European security structures hinders the plans of putin, who sees this as a threat to the existence of his regime.
V.S.: What were the defense strategies used by Ukraine in the international arena after the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions? What measures have been taken by the international community and the UN to bring Russia to justice already?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: Ukraine’s main strategy in resisting russian aggression since 2014 has been to attract the attention of the international community and recognize the actions of the kremlin as violating international norms and the UN Charter. The results of the relevant votes of the UN General Assembly actually confirmed the status of russia as an aggressor state and became the basis for the introduction of international sanctions against russia and increased pressure on its leadership.
V.S.: How do you assess Ukraine’s relations with EU and NATO countries? (in the context of the declarations of the President of Ukraine)
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: russian aggression contributed to the intensification of Ukraine’s rapprochement with EU and NATO countries. The prospects of Ukraine’s membership in the EU and the Alliance have become obvious and understandable to the peoples of Europe and the USA.
V.S.: Genocide of Russia against the Ukrainian people had various forms of display. We all feel that the civilian population is extremely suffering from the consequences of terrorist actions used by the Russian authorities on the territory of Ukraine. What forms of terrorism, in addition to the military, have been developed and used by Russia? Can they be qualified as state terrorism? (This means the bombing of the civilians and infrastructure)
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: Invasion of a neighbor’s territory is the highest manifestation of state terrorism. Before that, russia was limited by hybrid variants of state terrorism. For example, poisoning of opponents.
V.S.: To what extent the critical infrastructure of Ukraine have been affected?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: The war led to significant destruction of settlements and general infrastructure in the areas of hostilities. From a certain moment, the kremlin by missile strikes and Iranian kamikaze drones, has been trying to destroy the critical energy structure in Ukraine and thereby cause the collapse of the economy and panic among the population. At the same time, Ukraine has learned to shoot down most of the russian missiles and drones, as well as to quickly eliminate the consequences of impacts on critical infrastructure with the help of partners. For the post-war reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine, it is necessary to attract hundreds of billions of US dollars. Most of this money should be taken from the seized foreign assets of russia in accordance to the decisions of interna-tional courts.
V.S.: How do you assess the thesis of “holy war”, which have been voiced by Russia in the war against Ukraine? What is it rates? (Putin used Hitler’s “holy war” model, but this model is more typical for the Eastern Muslim world)
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: putin tries to use any historical symbols and analogies to justify his aggression against Ukraine and motivate the russian population. As the main source for such creativity, he chose the victory of the soviet union over Nazi Germany during the Second World War, which was also called the “holy war” under the stalin rule. But this analogy is completely incomprehensible to the young generation of russia, which is forced to pay with its blood for putin’s crazy ambitions.
V.S.: The Kremlin recently announced that Russia is at war with NATO! What is the official review (point of view) of Kyiv on such an approach?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: The thesis of a war with NATO is one of the kremlin’s tools for justifying its aggression in Ukraine and motivating the russian population to participate in this war. In continuation of the traditions of the soviet union, putin’s propaganda has always actively worked to maintain a negative image of NATO as the main threat to the existence of russia. The image of the Alliance as an aggressor is deeply rooted in russian society at the level of semi-consciousness. The kremlin has learned to easily manipulate these sentiments in its interests.
V.S.: One of the stakes in this war is the resource of Ukraine. What does Moscow mean in this point? How does Ukraine protect its resources?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: Access to resources is not the main driver force of this war. russia has enough resources on its territory and is only interested in destroying Ukraine as an independent country. In the same time, Ukraine protects its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which also includes natural resources.
V.S.: Almost a year after the unjust war, we see another bet of Moscow there was a breakdown of unity of the EU and NATO. We all know about the relations of Vienna and Budapest with Moscow. We all know that Moscow will not back down! We all know that Ukraine is waging a war to protect its legal territory! Did this war succeed in destroying the unity of the EU and the Ukrainian people?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: The war in Ukraine only strengthened the unity of the EU and NATO. Everyone finally understood the true inhuman nature of putin’s regime. The kremlin did not expect such a harsh reaction from the EU and NATO to its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Ukraine received unprecedented military, economic and humanitarian support, and russia received additional sanctions. Even former allies of russia in Europe were confused by such actions of moscow and forced to rethink their positions. Now the thesis “moscow will not give in” no longer bothers anyone. Everyone sees the inevitable collapse of russia if it continues the war in Ukraine.
V.S.: Diplomatic relations with some countries have undergone changes, which significantly influ-enced Kyiv’s approaches. How do you assess Ukraine’s relations with Hungary and the Republic of Moldova? (referred to in the context of statements by Orban, Dodon, Transnistria, etc.)
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: The dynamics of the war and mass war crimes committed by the russian aggressors affected Ukraine’s relations with countries that were tradi-tionally under russian informational or economic influence. Maintaining relations with the kremlin according to the principle of “business as usual” becomes toxic.
Thus, the Moldovan leadership now clearly understands that the victory of Ukraine is the only guarantee of the existence of the Republic of Moldova in its modern form and the way to a faster resolution of the Transnistria issue. Therefore, this war brought the two countries closer, deepened their relations in all spheres. russia is still trying to use its fifth column to exert influence on the political processes in Chisinau, but against the background of the atrocities of the russian troops in Ukraine, the possibilities of such influence are decreasing.
This also applies to Hungary, where after a certain period of special attitude to the situation in Ukraine is being noted the beginning of the process of rethinking relations with russia and the readiness to intensify the dialogue with Kyiv to solve problematic issues of bilateral relations.
V.S.: Romania, together with its NATO Allies and partners from the EU, stands on the side of Ukraine! How can Romania support Ukraine’s military efforts? How do you see Romania’s efforts to restore Ukraine?
Volodymyr HAVRYLOV: Romania is a member of NATO and is involved in all Alliance decisions regarding assistance to Ukraine in repelling russian aggression. In addition, our bilateral defense relations have significantly deepened during this war. This touches the exchange of experience in the use of modern weapons systems, the training of military specialists, and contacts in the defense industry. Due to its geographical location, Romania acts as an important logistics hub for the supply of critical goods to support Ukraine’s economy and defense capability.
I am sure that Romanian companies will take an active part in the post-war deve-lopment of Ukraine.
 From the beginning of the invasion in Ukraine (and till Ukraine’s victory) as most of colleagues in mass media, in principle, we write in small letters names of an aggressor: russia, rf, rassysts, putin, moscow.