In spite of his busy schedule, the chief of Ukrainian Counter Terrorist Center (CTC) found the time to answer InfoResist questions which are very relevant to the most of the country and in particular for the regions where the active stage of ATO is taking place now.
Questions regarding ATO sound like the battlefield reports, however, we should understand that the ATO itself is only one of the broad spectrum of the issues that CTC (lead by Lieutenant-General Vasiliy Krutov) solves now. The tasks of crisis management include reactions both to internal and externals threats and challenges for Ukraine. This reactions include a package plan consisting of political, economical, social and international components.
– In his inauguration speech the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that fire will be ceased very soon. This is why the most important question for the community is whether its is possible to cease fire soon and achieve a peaceful settlement? Is it possible to solve the problem of separatism by negotiations?
– Talking about President’s words about cease fire everybody should understand that package plan is needed to implement this idea. It is impossible to stop separatism forcefully. To make President’s stabilization plan success, we need to amend legislative acts urgently.
The first steps toward this directions have already been made. We are now preparing a whole series of amendments to legislative acts. Regarding practical actions in the South-East (Luhansk, Donetsk regions – translator’s note): the anti-terrorist operation consists of three stages: mop up, hold and restore. In other words first we need to neutralize all armed terrorists, then we need to provide control of the area of the operation and finally restore in corpore operation of bodies of state power. But in order to succeed we have to rebuild trust and confidence of people.
And this concerns not only Donbas (common name of Donetsk and Luhansk regions – translator), we need to understand that the task of counteracting terrorism is beyond the scope of anti-terrorist operation in individual regions and freeing these regions from terrorists, saboteurs and other militants. It is required – and we are working hard on that – to reconsider the national concept on countering terrorism adopted when Ukraine was considered a country with a low level of terroristic threat.
– It is known that the part of the border between Russia and Ukraine is not protected now; owing to that the terrorists are able to bring weapons, ammunition and vehicles to our territory. What measures are taken by ATO directors to protect the state border from penetration?
– In all the time of independence of Ukraine no one expected aggression from that side. This is why it is physically impossible to close the border at once. However, we are learning fast and making the right steps. Now we perform all necessary relocations which will allow us to block the border very soon. This is one of the key steps after which it will not take much time to complete the ATO successfully.
– Media tells a lot that servicemen taking part in the ATO lack helmets and armor vests. What is the real situation with provision of individual protective equipment?
– Right now the provision of servicemen is put in order. It is true that we had serious issues in the beginning of the operation but now most of the issues are solved. The truth is that for all the time of independence Ukraine never needed urgent staffing of the armed forces and providing them with individual protective equipment. We were not ready to react ina timely manner when the situation changed in a trice.
– Many citizens of Slovyansk and nearby regions are going to leave the area where the ATO takes place. What do the commanders do to provide the possibility to leave this territory safely?
– The citizens already have such a possibility. There are checkpoints around Slovyansk which perform filtration function. Unarmed people can leave the dangerous area freely. People living there are informed about that all the time. The President of Ukraine ordered to organize a safety corridor for unarmed civilians who want to leave the ATO zone. We are working on it now.
– There is a danger that the terrorists and saboteurs will try to escape along with unarmed civilians. What are you doing to prevent that?
– The ATO administration does all they can in order not to give the terrorists any slightest possibility to escape. Thorough filtration measures are performed in the checkpoints, this greatly reduces chances for the militants to leave the region – the militants have to be neutralized. But we should consider – and that concerns not only Slovyansk – that Ukraine may grant amnesty to people with separatist frame of mind if they have not broken the law nor have they killed anyone.
– The question from the group of activists helping victims of the events on the east, especially victims, freed hostages and those needing evacuation: taking into account the huge amount of messages a la “the National Guard eats children in Slovyansk” do you think that Ukraine manages to conduct efficient counter-propaganda? Because today the information field is the full part of the war. What are the priorities in these battles for Ukraine?
– The issue is that the full-fledged information war against Ukraine has been conducted for many years and these are the results we are observing now. We did not lose this war. We did not even participate in it. Informational war has never been considered as a part of the state politics. Meanwhile, because of the absence of the common antiterrorist information field on the national level, anti-Ukrainian products were widely spread using TV, press and the Internet.
Now we are implementing a package plan in information and propaganda field, renewing the program of information support for counter-terrorist actions. But our response will be asymmetric with respect to misrepresentation, false definitions and cynical lies. Our response should be based on legal literacy and patriotism. Ukraine is a democratic country and the principle of democracy and humanism do not provide for use of manipulative methods of influencing people. We need to form people’s consciousness basing on principles of intolerance to terrorism as a method of achieving political, economical or any other goals. It is necessary that people understand the need of temporary restriction of civil rights for reasons of national security and have knowledge of behavior in emergence of a terrorist threat or attack. This is the international experience.