If Russia Allowed to ‘Survive’ War it Will Threaten Former Soviet States in Europe, Warns Zelensky

In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia's Preside
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Russia will “definitely not stop” with Ukraine if it is allowed to “survive” its war against Ukraine and will menace countries across Europe, warned Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke at a summit of 11 southeastern European nations in Tirana, Albania on Wednesday and as well as pleading for more donations of ammunition, he also expressed the importance of making sure Russia isn’t able to do to the same to others in future.

Russia will attempt to “destabilize the situation in the West if they are given a break”, and preventing this means not offering “the opportunity to survive their aggression against us”, Zelensky counselled, warning the West should support Ukraine now because “Russia will definitely not stop there”.

In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on February 29, 2024. (Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

TIRANA, ALBANIA – FEBRUARY 28: Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) hold a joint press conference after the Ukraine-Southeast Europe Summit in Tirana, Albania on February 28, 2024. (Photo by Olsi Shehu/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Zelensky said he believed Russia would attempt to influence smaller European nations if it survived the Ukraine war, naming “the Baltic states, Moldova, and the Balkan states”, indeed “everywhere where the Soviet Union had its presence” as being under threat. Indeed, the outsize influence the short-sighted German government was willing to give Moscow in return for cheap energy has been a point of serious contention between Europe and the United States.

The assertion by Zelensky that Russia will attempt to undermine the smaller European states where it historically had influence comes amid renewed focus on Moldova, one of Europe’s smallest and poorest states, and which has a pro-Moscow breakaway region. Indeed, Moldova was the only country referred to by name by Zelensky in that part of his remarks.

As reported, the Moldova breakaway region, Transnistria, which fought a brief war of independence in the early 1990s and has existed in a state of legal limbo since of neither being recognised as a real country nor under the control of Moldova is again making overtures to Moscow to be occupied and incorporated into Russia. While Russia had had a small garrison of troops in Transnistria — legally the territory of pro-European Union Moldova — for decades, the Kremlin has ignored several previous requests by Transnistria for further involvement.

Even if Russia has been content to not force any further provocation in Moldova so far, President Vladimir certainly doesn’t appear reluctant to rattle the cage anyway, with a major display of nuclear war bluster during a major address on Thursday. The comments, which have been widely interpreted as a reply to French President Emmanuel Macron’s breaking of the vow of silence between Western leaders on the possibility of putting boots on the ground in Ukraine, warned of “tragic” consequences should Russia and NATO go to war.

Putin said of Western leaders: “Don’t they understand it?… Those people haven’t been through any tough challenges and they have forgotten what war means”, while threatening a nuclear arsenal at “full readiness”.

The comments are only the latest in a long line of nuclear threats by Russia against the West, aimed at discouraging greater NATO involvement in the Ukraine war, but generally the quiet part is not said out loud by Putin himself, a role normally delegated to his longtime subordinate Dmitry Medvedev.

Zelensky’s comments on Russian survival too are part of a series of remarks by top Ukrainian figures on the importance of not allowing Russia to “survive” the war to remove the threat of invasion and subversion from other European states. Zelensky himself has spoken of regime change in Russia, and warned EU nations are the next targets for Putin if he isn’t defeated.

Underlining the rhetoric around total defeat for Russia Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov previously said “justice” meant Ukrainian tanks rolling up to the Kremlin.


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