One of the top US officials, Victoria Nuland has called for the implementation of the Ukraine peace accords. Officials have confirmed their joint support for the full implementation of the February 12th Minsk agreements. Do you feel that this is a real change in policies or is this somewhat of a tactical change maybe a sleight of hand?
Avigdor Eskin: When someone is so ultimately hawkish as Victoria Nuland starts talking differently with Russian partners and instead of bringing cookies to Maidan, consumes Russian products as well – it makes a certain change in the atmosphere. She had a very good meeting with Mr. Karasin, she made few reasonable statements.
And she made clear that the US will support Russia in efforts of holding fire in Donetsk and Lugansk. They are not interested in any escalation. That is what she emphasized over and over again.
Moscow is not interested in escalation as well. Due to some changes in the US Congress – there is progress. We can see their decision to stop any help to the Azov battalion.
But on the other hand there's talks of John McCain sending weapons to Ukraine, so on one hand it seems as if we have a good cop and a bad cop. Victoria Nuland is being on record as being very anti-Russian. Are you suggesting that we’re moving towards a second phase or a different phase of this new cold war rhetoric?
When you talk of Saakashvilli, you touch upon an interesting point. He’s appointed governor of Odessa, and Odessa is close to Transnistria, and Transnistria itself is somewhat of a replay South Ossetia – Georgian war. Isn’t that what we are going to see? More conflict in the region?
Avigdor Eskin: I don’t think Saakashvilli will do what he did in Georgia. But in Georgia he did everything to make Georgia lose its territory. From his commentaries we can see that the guy went crazy. He did everything that the Russian side would have no other option to reply. Was it right or wrong – history will tell. But Saakashvilli was a curse for Georgia, I’m sure he’ll be much more careful in Odessa.
There is a bill that is put up by two congressmen to block the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Azov battalion. What impact is the US Congress decision will make?
Avigdor Eskin: The US admits that Nazi battalions and glorification of Nazi ideology really exists. They admit what has been coming from Russian side. And we are talking about Government policy and not just anti-Semitic and Nazi element. Ukrainian President announces Bandera and Shukhevich as national heroes, the Verkhovna Rada passes a legislation to glorify those Ukrainians who collaborated with Nazis.
And if the US understands this better now – I’m sure there’ll be much easier ways to find a solution for Ukraine, and relations will improve. The US need to understand that people who lost so many lives in WW2 just cannot be idle to this kind of policy.
Donald Trump announced his candidacy last week. Trump was easy on Russian president. He said that Putin is extremely popular, people love what he is doing, and said that you can get along with these people (Russian), you can make deals with those people. If he is elected, could it be a positive development?
Avigdor Eskin: I think any of such things would be a positive development. I think in modern world USA and Russia should be allies, should defend western civilization from ISIL and other threats. According to the UN There are 60 mln refugees in the world this year. And all these people, where do you think they will go? To Africa, Rwanda? I mean, the western world faces horrible danger, and instead of being united – US and Russia reach new and new levels of tension. It’s the reminiscence of the past. It has nothing to do with today’s realities. Russia can take place which is clearly defined by its boundaries. And the US will not move NATO further east. And then you would see how good the relations can be between the two countries. And any candidate who will take this as one of his points will gain from this for sure.
What is going on in Ukraine now? There have been numerous anti-Semitic incidents there.
Avigdor Eskin: Nowadays Neo-Nazi groups there are not trying to hide their feelings towards the Jews and other minorities. They recently refused the fact that there will be a memorial to Jews slaughtered during the WW2, some of them by Ukrainian collaborators. And now some hooligans desecrated another memorial in Nikopol, Dnepropetrovsk area. Dnepropetrovsk is out of control of Kolomoiskyi now. And Kolomoiskyi is one of the persons who created a wave of anti-Semitism in Ukraine. So all together Jews are under direct threat now there, and many of them have left and are leaving for Israel now.
Feelings of people that have been held down for a long time are coming to the surface?
Avigdor Eskin: Despite this very groomy and tragic situation in Ukraine – on Victory Day May 9 there were millions of people celebrating it, and not celebrating in memory of Neo Nazi collaborators. There is a great potential for Ukrainian people to get into new peaceful and constructive relations with Russians. We have to pray that Western Europe and USA will help to do it, so that then together we could face real troubles that stand before us today.
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