21 July 2018, Saturday, 8:57
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Anton Herashchenko: Putin Developed Mechanism For Bypassing Sanctions

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ANTON HERASHCHENKO
PHOTO: FACEBOOK

The countries of the West should control the supply of sanctioned goods to Belarus.

Belarus remains within the "union state" with Russia, and Aliaksandr Lukashenka is absolutely dependent on the Kremlin. If the EU and the US want to control the sanctions course against the regime of Vladimir Putin, then they should regulate what they deliver to Belarus, providing that sanctioned goods can get to Russia.

Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Anton Herashchenko said this in an interview with Charter97.org.

- What is happening in the war with Russia now? Has the situation changed for the time of holding the football World Cup?

- The war goes on, and it will go on until Russia returns what it has stolen from Ukraine. I mean the Crimea and Donbas.

The Minsk agreements are certainly violated, they were violated even at the moment of their signing. They have never been complied with. According to the Minsk agreements, it is necessary to ensure ceasefire, drive the heavy weapons of more than 100 mm caliber 30 kilometers away from the border, and return all prisoners of war and detainees. No one did it. Russia yielded to these agreements only under the pressure of the West, the Kremlin had absolutely no intention to abide by them. They were needed only to stop the open attack of Russia. And it’s good that it happened.

In all other respects, the agreements were not observed. As for today's situation, I do not think that the aggravation that we see is threatening with a large-scale attack. Russian-backed terrorists, using their impunity, conduct firefighting and strike at Ukrainian weapons warehouses. Recently, several tons of Ukrainian ammunition were destroyed near Horlovka.

Our country reacts only in response, we are not the initiators of such actions. But the situation in the Donbas shows complete impunity of Putin. On the one hand, a mechanism of sanctions has been introduced, and on the other hand, they are doing business with the head of the Kremlin. They lay gas pipelines, buy gas and oil.

Europe shows its adherence to democratic values, unwillingness to go for another "Munich collusion" with Putin, but continues to trade with Russia. This is the same as if the UK were trading with Germany during World War II.

The hybrid war is so terrible that it seems to exist, but it seems not to exist at the same time. The Russians managed to create a powerful propaganda machine in the West. When you come to any western hotel, you see that the Russia Today TV channel operates there, broadcasting in English, German, French and other languages. Hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated for propaganda. All this is done in order to say the white is black, and the black is white.

- Do you expect escalation of the conflict after the World Cup is over?

- I would not declare that there is a direct correlation that now it is the World Cup, and then it is worth waiting for the attack. If we take a military conflict in Georgia in 2008, we can say that Mikhail Saakashvili also planned military actions to restore the territorial integrity of his country during the Olympics. And the Russians, knowing that he planned it, gave him a rebuff in the same days. So it coincided.

As for the Olympics in Sochi and the attack on Ukraine, this is also more a coincidence. I'm far from any kind of trigonometry and behind-the-scenes conspiracies in such matters. The world is driven by interests. To date, I do not see Putin's interests in large-scale military actions against Ukraine.

First, why would he do this? Putin has built a mechanism to bypass the sanctions of the West. He intends to show himself to everyone as a peacemaker. He is interested in building the Nord Stream-2 to saturate Europe with its gas.

Everyone understands that the separatist armies that they created cannot act without Russian support, guns, tanks and other. If tomorrow Putin gave a command to military instructors to leave the territory of the LDPR, then by the evening there would have been Ukrainian troops and there was no resistance. Everyone would have fled with their Russian curators.

The fact that there is a huge Russian army on the border with Ukraine does not mean anything. It has been standing there since 2014. The fact remains that they are deploying new weapons and can test it against Ukraine.

- You’ve mentioned the mechanism for bypassing sanctions against Russia. However, you surely are aware that the main “bypassing roads” go through Belarus, right?

- Since the time of Napoleon's sanctions against England, the whole issue was only in the ability of persons imposing sanctions to control the movement of goods. And always, when sanctions are imposed, this only increases the price of one or the other product for the party that requests it. Russia could receive these goods and services at lower prices if there had not been a fatal attack on Ukraine.

However, the fact remains that they have learned to bypass the sanctions, it’s true. For example, the construction of the Crimean bridge, where the latest technologies of European companies were applied. We talked about this, we were alarmed that this or that German or Finnish company supplied high-tech equipment to Russia.

But, unfortunately, our Western partners on the one hand declare adherence to European values, and on the other hand, the money earned by their companies is also important for them.

Of the positive examples - a lawsuit against Siemens, which was caught in the supply of gas turbines in the Crimea. For the occupied peninsula, there is a ban on the supply of new energy technologies, but there Russia deceived Siemens. Under the contract, these turbines were supposed to be delivered to the territory of Russia, and not to the Crimea. This was a lot of information on the Internet, but I do not believe that Siemens did not know about the end point of the delivery of turbines. It's not a toy, it's a high-tech equipment. It needs to be set up.

The question is whether our Western partners understand how deviating from the principles of democracy, peace and territorial integrity of Europe can adversely affect their future.

The leaders of Britain and France also took the path of cheating Hitler in the 1930s: well, he wanted the Anschluss with Austria, well, so, the German-speaking citizens want reunification. This ended with the "Munich collusion," the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, the transfer of Sudetenland and the Second World War.

As for your question ... The fact is that Belarus is an "allied" state with Russia. And Lukashenka is a person dependent on the Russian Federation. He would also be happy to pursue an independent policy, but Belarus is riddled with economic ties with the Kremlin, the communications of the special services. If Russia stops supplying oil to you, your economy will stop. The same will happen if Moscow refuses to buy from you MAZ, BelAZ vehicles.

If the Western countries want to control the sanctions regime, they should regulate what they deliver to Belarus, providing that goods can get to Russia.

To date, the most stringent Western sanctions relate to the supply of military products. We are talking about microcircuits, various components that are needed for modern Russian weapons. You will laugh, but all these "great" planes flew on microchips produced by the USA and Europe. Russian power was attached to the technological achievements of the West.

Ukraine has ceased to supply many spare parts to their complex military equipment. Starting from helicopter engines and ending with gas turbine engines for ships. Because of this, a new program for the construction of ships and submarines in the Russian Federation is broken. Although it is known that they are constantly trying to find a replacement. And not without success.

The most successful sanctions are depriving Russia of access to the world financial market. Their companies and banks cannot come to the exchanges and take billions of dollars for business development, and hence, to strengthen the Russian economy.

Experts say that Russia paid about $ 100-200 billion in lost payments for the annexation of the Crimea. This is a colossal figure.

Why did Putin occupy the Crimea? To strengthen his power in Russia. To be repeatedly re-elected on a wave of patriotism. He considered that for him the seizure of the peninsula is easier and cheaper than establishing life in Russia, investing in prosperity, education, roads.

Putin made such a choice. For him - this is a tactically advantageous solution, we see it by the results of the elections. Strategically, this is a dead end for Russia. After what Putin did with the Crimea and the Donbas, no other neighboring country - Finland, the Baltic states, Belarus, Kazakhstan - cannot feel at ease. At any moment in the Kremlin they can say: listen, because the great Kazakh people are the younger brother of the Russians, let's seize half of Kazakhstan just in case. Based on the fact that there are many Russian-speaking citizens.

- Let us return to the situation in Ukraine. The “hit list” in the “Babchenko case” has been revealed. There are dozens of journalists in it. This is an unprecedented situation. Is it dangerous for foreign journalists to stay in Ukraine?

- No one can feel safe in Ukraine today. As in other countries, which are in development or are subjects of Russian aggression.

For example, when last year an attempt was made on Verkhovna Rada member Ihor Mosiychuk, two absolutely innocent people were killed. One was his guard, and the second just passed by. The explosion of the bomb does not spare anyone, no one can be calm.

Concerning Arkadiy Babchenko, his liquidation was being prepared. On the one hand, it was a revenge on a Russian journalist who can freely create and criticize Russian power in Ukraine, and on the other, it was planned to create an atmosphere of nervousness.

Everyone knows that the murders of journalists are very hotly debated by their colleagues. You saw what happened the day after the "murder" of Babchenko. How much criticism and accusation was made against the authorities, which "allowed" all this. Although it is obvious that in no country in the world the authorities can put security on every journalist, unless you know for certain that they are in danger.

The Russian propaganda very well worked out the thesis "why you deceived the whole world with the death of Babchenko". It was a purely Russian idea, which, unfortunately, was picked up by individual Ukrainian politicians and journalists, who generate nothing as it is easier for them to do with copy-paste.

In fact, the operation was correct, and this should be decided by prosecutors and investigators: to stage the murder or not. This is a standard in the law enforcement practice.

To justify the correctness of this method, I would cite as an example of Sherlock Holmes, who jumped into the Reichenbach Falls. Yes, his relatives were uncomfortable. Yes, Mrs. Hudson was very worried, and Dr. Watson tried to sink his grief in a bottle. But if Holmes had not done this, he would not have established all the links of Professor Moriarty and he would have been killed.

As for the list of 47 journalists, the competent authorities did not allow me to read it, and I do not always trust the information that gets into the media.

If my opinion is asked by the competent authorities, in whose hands this information fell, I will clarify how this list fell into the hands of our special forces. From this I will draw conclusions and will form an opinion whether this is a counter-operation of Russian special services to throw such a list through legitimate channels. Indeed, the presence of such a list sows fear and horror in a large number of people.

As for the danger to foreign journalists in Kyiv - nothing can not be ruled out.

- Let’s continue the journalistic topic. The most popular pro-European and pro-Ukrainian website Charter97.org was blocked by the authorities in Belarus. Belarus’s informational space appeared under practically total control of Russia: television, newspapers, internet. Do they realize the threats coming from this in Ukraine?

- A huge problem for Ukraine is that we do not control our information space. You complain to me about Belarus, where Russia controls all media space, and I complain to you about the country where Russia took part of the territory. We still have television channels controlled by Moscow. We cannot stop their work, and when we try - we hear a shout from Washington and Europe about freedom of speech. But at the same time, when the media is closed in Belarus, no one does anything.

I do not know how we can win a confrontation with Russia if we do not control our information space. I do not know how Churchill would have won in the Second World War if German newspapers were published in London and the German radio broadcasted.

For me, Belarus has long been a part of the Russian Federation. All this will continue until the Belarusian people throw off the handcuffs that they themselves have made.

You have a situation where people do not have an alternative. This will continue until the wheel of history turns. For example, as it was in Libya. Gaddafi was in power for 40 years. Then the wheel of history turned.

- And this dictator ended very badly.

- And it all started with the fact that the fruit seller in Tunisia set himself on fire, because tax inspectors took away his fruit. Then the domino effect began, the "Arab spring" and so on.

But I want to say one thing, in my experience, dictatorships fall only when they themselves create conditions for this. In Ukraine, the same Yanukovych gave a command to beat innocent people, which caused the rise of the people, which even our opposition did not believe. When they saw hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Maidan, they were shocked.

I am sure that one day you will enter Minsk on a white horse, and I will be invited as a consultant for the establishment of democracy in Belarus.

There was a very interesting sociological survey once, on the percentage of people who are ready to fight for their rights, go to a demonstration, publicly express their disagreement with the state's policy. And, depending on the level of democracy in the country, the percentage varied. In Ukraine there were only 3% of people. They did the Maidan. From 40 million people it is 1.2 million. The maximum percentage was in the Netherlands - 18%. So, what percentage of such people in Belarus? In Russia - about 1%.

An atomic explosion requires a critical mass. If there is no critical mass, there will be an uprising of the Decembrists. It is clear that such enlightened minds, like you, are being ousted from Belarus. But Herzen strived to wake Russia up 70 years before the revolution in the country. Try to wake Belarus up.

If there is no critical mass of the elite in the country that is ready to risk themselves for the sake of the country's good, if they do not have the right values, then nothing will happen.

An example is the American revolution. I know it very well. I went to the USA specially to be inspired by it. I went to the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the US Declaration of Independence was signed. It was signed by only 53 people. Who signed it? Entrepreneurs, journalists, publishers of newspapers. They were spiritually free people who had their own point of view and their business. They were able to create a free America.

Can slaves create a free country? They can try, but they will not always be successful. But free people can reach such a level that they are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of freeing slaves, against the opinions of many.

- The last time we met was in autumn, and we spoke a lot about the reforms which had been held in Ukraine. What is new for the last half a year?

- We are implementing a huge number of different reforms and changes. The President of Ukraine announced a figure of 144 reforms. We adopt a lot of new laws. Some of them completely change the legislative field.

Last autumn, we passed a huge law on education, which caused a number of claims, inspired by the Russian propaganda. The Russian Federation stated that we do not allow children to learn in their native language in schools. It is not true. By the way, I do not know about any school in Russia where the process of teaching in Ukrainian or Belarusian languages is going on, although Belarusians and Ukrainians in Russia live very compactly.

The law on the Anti-Corruption Court has been adopted, six positive laws for housing and communal services have been adopted, obliging all to have meters. You will laugh, but we still do not have meters in all houses. Finally, we solved this problem.

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a law on the ratification of the agreement with Airbus to supply about 55 helicopters. It seems to be a trifle, but we will now buy European helicopters, and not from the country with which we are at war. Now we will not depend on them.

Belarus, for example, cannot afford it. If Lukashenka wants to buy European helicopters, which are much cheaper, then immediately there will come a scream from Moscow.

I would like to note the victory in the Stockholm Arbitration Court over Gazprom. Unfortunately, if Belarus is dissatisfied with Gazprom, you cannot do it. We won the lawsuit and Russia should pay us $ 4.6 billion, which the independent court called to collect from Gazprom for an underpayment for the transit of gas through Ukraine. Another question is that Russia will not want to comply with court decisions, which I foresee. It will be extremely difficult to collect this money, if at all possible. But, at least, Ukraine has shielded itself from the financial claims of Gazprom.

There are a lot of reforms, but I especially closely monitor those that are conducted in the law enforcement system. Now we are creating an Anticorruption Court. I will not hide that it was demanded of us to create it by the US and the IMF. They believe that this will be a panacea for corruption if we find the 50 most honest people who will honestly judge. I am a realistic politician and I understand that if the court is very honest, but the prosecutor has prepared the case incorrectly, then the court will have to justify the offender if their actions are incorrectly documented. I'm trying to get this to the people.

Finally I want to emphasize: I have a dream that, on all the borders of Ukraine, and not only on the border with the EU, there are democratic, prosperous states surrounding us. Peoples who want to develop not at the expense of interference in the affairs of other states, but at the expense of labor, mutually beneficial trade and respect for each other. I dream that Belarus and Russia will become such countries and I am confident that this will happen even in our lifetimes.