Russia wages war of terror against civilians: Ukraine’s president adviser

“Russia is waging a war of terror against the civilian population,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President told the German daily Bild, and explained why it is necessary for the country to continue fighting until victory is secured over the Russian invaders.

As Mr Podolyak said, the Russians lack manpower and modern weaponry, resorting to Soviet–era-manufactured military equipment to defeat Ukraine. But for Ukraine to be victorious in its defence, the country itself needs Western-manufactured weapons. Modern weapon systems provided by the West, including Germany, are vital, according to Mr Podolyak, to not only push back against the invaders but also minimise the losses suffered by the Ukrainians, including the civilian population. This can be done by providing modern anti-aircraft systems.

As he noted, “debates about gas and inflation can lead to people getting weary of the war and reduce the support for Ukraine”. But as Mr Podolyak points out, “the Russian Federation in its present state will always provoke Europe, it will make war eternal.” The adviser to President Zelenskyy believes that “if we do not finish this war the right way, we will let Russia get away with it. We will have [another] war on a greater scale because Russia will understand that Europe is weak and incapable of reacting [...].”

“We want the war to come to an end as quick as possible and on Ukrainian terms,” Mr Podolyak told Bild and pointed out that NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg himself also stated, that unless the war ends on Ukraine’s terms, the next war will be even more costly.

Not everybody seems to recognise that. A group of some 20 German intellectuals recently published an open letter titled “Ceasefire now!”, in which they wrote that “Ukraine cannot win this war” and called for a quick end to the hostilities, even claiming that “continuing the war in Ukraine will not solve the problem”.

Responding to Bild’s request for a comment, Mr Podolyak said that “German intellectuals have unfortunately not completely understood the nature of this war”.

It is not a war over a piece of land or over some resources [...]. This war is about whether or not the Russian Federation has the right to impose its own terms and rules. If we conclude this war ‘the wrong way’, if we begin to negotiate and accept all or [even] some of its terms, the war will be put on hold and that erupt again,” said Mr Podolyak.

Mr Podolyak also stated clearly, that “Russia is waging a war of terror against the civilian population.” Massacring of civilians and deliberate targeting of civilians, as well as civilian infrastructure, are just some examples that have been exposed over the course of the past several months. The number of reported crimes, including war crimes, perpetrated by Russians in Ukraine is quickly approaching 21,000, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

TVP World collected some of the other ways in which Russia has been breaking international and even its own law.

Civilian population in occupied territories

Some 100,000 civilians remain in the now Russian-occupied Mariupol, which amounts to less than a quarter of the pre-war population. The occupiers have recently begun forcing the residents to provide their personal data, likely in preparation for a sham referendum on uniting the city or the entire Donetsk Region with Russia.

The occupation authorities are telling the residents that they will be providing assistance and help in the reconstruction of damaged houses, but only after the referendum is held, reported Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the legal Mayor of Mariupol, in a Telegram post. He also wrote that administrators of multi-dwelling units are being pressured into conducting a census of residents and even providing data of flat owners and residents who are not currently present in Mariupol. “If they do not, they are threatened, that the building will not be repaired or their residents will not receive alternative accommodation to replace the destroyed flats,” wrote Mr Andriushchenko.

According to the information released by Mr Andriushchenko, the illegal referendum is planned for September 11.

A similar referendum was planned in late April or early May in the Kherson Region, with similar tactics employed by the occupiers, but ultimately it was not conducted. Yet the Russians are still putting pressure on the locals, trying to force residents to start using Russian rubles and to apply for Russian citizenship.

In order to achieve the latter, relatives of those who have been detained by the invaders are being forced to apply for a Russian passport. As Yuriy Sobolevskyi, First Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, wrote on Facebook:

“Russian passports are imposed on the people everywhere, wherever possible. Up to the point where the relatives of detained persons are forced to write appropriate applications ‘in exchange’ for their loved ones’ freedom.”

According to Mr Sobolevskyi, the first victims of such pressure were pensioners who had been cut off from access to assistance from the Ukrainian government services, including the pension system and online banking, and therefore accepting a Russian passport is practically the only way in which they can support themselves.

Deputy Chairman Sobolevskyi also explained how the population is being bombarded with Russian propaganda, noting in the same Facebook post that the people of Kherson are subjected to “powerful propaganda brainwashing [...] through television, radio, Telegram channels, and printed press.” The population of the occupied territories remains defiant, however. On July 6, Dmytro Orlov, the legal Mayor of Enerhodar in the occupied section of the Zaporizhzhian Region announced that the occupiers had begun to bring in teachers from illegally annexed Crimea because the vast majority of local teachers refused to conduct classes in line with the Russian-imposed curriculum.

Illegal mobilisation in Crimea

According to Tamila Tasheva, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Russia has been conducting an illegal mobilisation on the territory of the illegally annexed peninsula for the past several months.

Russian law does not allow for a general mobilisation unless the country is at war. Since, according to the official narrative of the Kremlin, there is no war in Ukraine, only a “special military operation”, a large number of the Russian forces were draftees who were performing their compulsory military training and told that they will be participating in military manoeuvers. Obviously, there were no manoeuvers, and furthermore, Russian law prohibits the sending of draftees performing compulsory military service into combat zones.

In spite of all this, Sergey Aksyonov, who heads the Russian occupying authorities in Crimea (except for the city of Sevastopol, being a separate administrative unit), has been conducting mobilisation of the local population for military service.

“The military draft in Crimea began in April and has currently entered a new phase of mobilisation based on an illegal decree issued on June 30 by the head of the occupational administration, Sergey Aksyonov,” Tasheva told the Ukrinform agency. The decree will call on reservists who will then be sent to Crimea.

According to the data released by Tasheva, 108 military funerals of Russian soldiers were conducted in Crimea. Of those killed, 56 likely held Ukrainian citizenship. In an attempt to conceal the massive losses suffered by Russian forces, the burials are often conducted in secrecy and the families of the soldiers are forbidden to tell anyone how their relatives died.