The Ukrainian government in Kiev has lost control of vast parts of its own country, with the east moving further and further apart, investigative journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter told RT, warning that a real civil war is possible.
RT: We’ve heard repeated calls from Russia and the West for there to be nationwide dialogue from Kiev, but given what has happened today, another administrative building has been taken over by protesters, how likely do you think it is that protesters will actually be willing to negotiate or talk?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: It’s very much unlikely that the protesters in eastern and southern Ukraine would talk on the same level with the putsch government in Kiev, because we have to realize that in the eyes of those protesters, the government in Kiev is a sort of gang of oligarchs, of organized crime, of terrorists, and of course hooligans, and when we see who is right now governing in Kiev, they are not so wrong. So who can expect or who can blame those people that they are not willing to talk with that government and that they want to take the fate of their people, the self determination of the Russians there, to take it in their own hands.
RT: So do we have a stalemate here? How do you see things playing out?
MO: We see now the violence has become more, but we also saw that the Kiev government doesn’t have control of its own country. The Ukrainian state, what we saw now on the map, when we put the map on the table, is not existing anymore; it is a failed state, an empty entity, which is in the west governed by a putsch gang of people who were imposed by the West, by NATO, as well as the European Union. Not with the support of their people but with the support of foreign powers, with the support of the West, while the people in the east and in the south are spreading away from Kiev and they want to merge with Russia in any form. So if there is no opportunity for that, that both parts of Ukraine can talk with each other and that they will find a solution that pleases both sides, there will be much more violence and it can be very likely that a real civil war might break out. And this would not be not a civil war like in Syria, far away from Europe. This would be a civil war inside Europe.
RT: The protesters in east Ukraine are saying they want to hold a referendum. They want to do it before the election at the end of this month. Presumably, this is not advisable. How do you see best to deal with this issue of the referendum?
MO: When you ask me if this is advisable, it depends on who you ask. First of all, it is not the West, it is not Brussels, and it is not Washington. It is not Berlin, it is not Paris, and it is not London, who decides what is advisable for the eastern Ukrainians. If they want to hold a referendum and they want to give themselves a decision where to go, the fate of the future, they should do that. It is always the wrong image that we have that people should ask in Washington or in Brussels if they are allowed to do a thing like a referendum. We had that already with Crimea, when the West was protesting, but thank God we have to say that we enter now a new period of history, where a geopolitical earthquake takes place and we see that we don’t have anymore the situation that the term “international community” is a camouflage word for the West. The international community means there are multiple levels; there are a lot of states. And of course, if they want to do a referendum and they want to do a decision, it is also important what Moscow says...it is important what China says, what the BRICS states are saying. It is not just anymore important what NATO is saying and what Washington is saying. And that is why this is a very good development.
RT: But there is a big difference between the referendum that took place in Crimea, and just geographically speaking, the one that will take place in eastern Ukraine. There are two very different problems, but presumably the one in east Ukraine could be a lot worse in terms of what could happen, what the consequences could be.
MO: Absolutely. The situation of the referendum is very much different. In Crimea it was very calm, almost like a typical election day somewhere in a little sleepy European city. But what we expect now, of course, in eastern Ukraine is something else. And we will see there a lot of violence, we will see there maybe bomb attacks. We know that there are terrorists working for the Kiev government. I mean we have the Right Sector group, which is nothing else than a hooligan and a terrorist group. There are people of the Right Sector fighting with Chechnya’s Islamists against Russia. They were fighting in the Georgian war in 2008. So we have to expect of course when we look at the borderline that it is very easy to infiltrate eastern Ukraine. Much more easy to infiltrate eastern Ukraine from Kiev than it was to infiltrate, for example, Crimea. Of course the situation is different, but at the end of the day it is still a referendum. And maybe somebody can tell me a more basic democratic act than a referendum, when the people have the right to show their voice for what they want to do in the future.
RT: Just last night, we saw military drills taking place in Kiev. The Kiev authorities deny they had anything to do with this. What is your interpretation of what went on?
MO: The Kiev government, if we can call that a government, they have two problems. Problem number one: they lost complete control of vast areas of their own country, what I said [before], that the country just exists on the map. And on the other side, they are working with many dirty tricks because they desperately want to have military and economic support of the West, mainly NATO and the EU. For any provocation they do, they want to provoke the Russians to show military action. We know that Poland is very much putting fuel into that fire, the Baltic states as well. They are already promising Ukraine their support. So there is something going on and of course the Kiev government is desperately trying to get that support.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.