To many, including the UN Security Council, Russia “unjustly invaded” Ukraine, sparking the food and energy crises that are rocking the Kenyan and global economy.
Believable as it may sound, that is just one side of the story laced with “American propaganda”, according to Russia’s ambassador to Kenya Dmitry Maksimychev, who— like Moscow— maintains this is not an invasion but “a special operation”.
In this wide-ranging email interview with Nation.Africa, Maksimychev speaks on paramilitary organisation CHVK Wagner and the prospects of the return of Cold War.
- How many Africans has Russia enlisted to fight in Ukraine? How many from the Central Africa Republic alone?
I am not aware of a single African enlisted by Russia to fight in Ukraine.
But I am fully aware of hundreds and thousands of English, French, German, American, Danish, Spanish, Dutch, etc. mercenaries who were hired by the Kiev regime to fight in the neo-Nazi storm trooper battalions to kill the Ukrainians and Ukrainian Russians who do not support Kiev, and the Russian Army.
Those people are usually from the many private armies that EU countries and the US have created and used around the world. Professionals of subversion, torture and murder.
Some of them are former military servicemen, some are from European, American, etc. extreme-right, racist, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi organisations. They must definitely feel some mental or cultural affinity with the Ukrainian Nazis.
- Why have Russians stayed in Ukraine in spite of the widespread global condemnation of this invasion, including at the General Assembly?
On condemnation, I disagree. Many countries abstained. About half of the African states refused to jump on the Ukro-American bandwagon, China and India abstained, and so did many others.
If you think of it, it is the majority of the Earth’s population. In spite of the huge pressure that they were subjected to by the West, including intimidation, blackmail, etc. We are grateful to them. It is inspiring that there still exist independent, sovereign, and courageous countries not afraid to stand up to brute coercion.
We will stay in Ukraine as long as it takes to achieve the goals of the Special Military Operation. That means, as I said, demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, protection of the people of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics and protection of the legitimate security interests of Russia.
- There have been reports of gross human rights violations, including indiscriminate killings of civilians. Will Russia take responsibility for all these?
You take these “reports” from the Western propaganda machine.
There is one curious thing that I have noticed about Western propaganda.
The thing is that it is not very creative or inventive. They usually accuse others, Russia for that matter, of exactly the same things they are doing themselves.
When they say “indiscriminate use of force against civilians”, think of Belgrade, Baghdad, Tripoli, Benghazi, Mosul, Raqqa. Who devastated those cities, killing hundreds of thousands civilians? Right, US-led Nato and similar Western coalitions.
When they say “gross human rights violations”, think of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, political murders, mass drone killings, secret torture prisons in Eastern Europe, etc. Who did that? Right, US-led Nato and similar Western coalitions.
I am only citing the most widely known facts.
Ukraine is only trying to emulate the behaviour of their Western patrons and stage cheap fakes like the “massacre of Bucha” or “Kramatorsk missile attack”.
What is outrageous is that to produce these propaganda fakes, they murder their own people. And the participation of US and EU governments in this makes them accomplices of those war crimes.
They blame on Russia the war crimes committed by either the Ukrainian military, including the Nazi units, who, as war tactics, deliberately take the hostilities to the cities, prevent civilians from fleeing to use them as human shields, or the paramilitary “territorial defense” militias to whom the Kiev regime hastily gave 30 thousand assault rifles without even registering them, and who immediately started a huge wave of robberies, looting, rape and murder in the towns and cities controlled by Kiev.
As far as the Russian Army is concerned, they have the strictest orders to target only military personnel, military installations and military infrastructure. No civilians or civilian infrastructure are targeted.
And unlike the Kiev regime’s military, we do not torture or kill prisoners and fully respect International Humanitarian Law. This is why the advance of the Russian Army is relatively slow.
If we acted like the Americans, who razed entire cities to the ground, together with their populations, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria with air bombardments, we would have won already. But this type of warfare is against our principles, our dignity, and our values.
Of course, we will not take responsibility for something we have not done.
- Why is Russia restricting the use of social platforms like Twitter and Instagram back home, while its diplomats use it abroad to explain Moscow policy?
Indeed, very recently the Russian courts restricted the work of a small number of social media because they brazenly refused to respect Russian legislation, promoted criminal activities, imposed their private political censorship on Russian citizens, ignored the rulings of the Russian courts of law and refused to cooperate. Who would tolerate such behaviour?
The majority of social media working in Russia are accessible and continue their normal functioning.
You remember how Twitter banned their own president in 2020? If they did that to themselves, imagine what they were doing to us.
Russian diplomats use every opportunity to explain Russia’s position – social media, newspapers, radio, television, private conversations, letters, everything. This is our professional duty. To tell you the truth, this is normal.
- What is the endgame of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
As I said, the goals of the Special Military Operation are the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, protection of the people of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics and protection of the legitimate security interests of Russia. This will enable Ukraine to become a democratic country at peace with itself and its neighbours.
These goals must and will be achieved.
- Russian paramilitary organisation CHVK Wagner is running projects in at least 18 countries in Africa, including Mali and Central Africa. What exactly is the Kremlin’s mission with Wagner on the continent?
The whole “Wagner” myth is a hoax of the Western propaganda machine. As in many other countries, there are private security firms in Russia who offer security services on a commercial basis, including in Africa. They are independent commercial enterprises. The Kremlin has nothing to do with that.
There is nothing new in it. We did not invent private security services. If you think hard enough you will recall such organisations as Blackwater, Academy, etc. which were created and actively used long before this business started in Russia.
Africans are free to independently decide how they ensure their security interests. It is their sovereign choice, and no one has the right to dictate to them.
As I see it, the obsession of Western propaganda with “Wagner” is that the Russian security firms are by far more effective, efficient and successful than their competitors from the old colonialist empires. Russians are simply better.
- Wagner contractors are actively involved in the Mali conflict. What exactly is their role? Who sent them?
I repeat, it is the free and sovereign choice of Mali to select their partners in the security sphere. I would recommend you to ask this question to the government of Mali.
The United States accuses Wagner of plundering mineral resources in Africa, including in the Central Africa Republic and Libya. What do you have to say to that?
I do not have much to say to that, except that the United States and the former colonialist rulers of Africa certainly have a long experience and extensive expertise in plundering the mineral resources of Africa.
- Who should be held accountable for the Wagner Group’s human rights abuses, including torture, rape and the indiscriminate murder of civilians in CAR, Mali and other parts of Africa?
First, there have to be facts established about all these accusations, other than the hysterical allegations of the historical competitors and their vicious propaganda. Remember, there is one curious thing about Western propaganda. It is not very creative or inventive. They usually accuse others of exactly the same things they are doing themselves.
And it is up to the African countries themselves to decide who should be held accountable for what.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the activities of Wagner are bringing back dark memories of the Cold War. How is this likely to impact your ties with Nairobi since Kenya is a strong ally of the United States?
Those who want cold war will get it.
The relations between Russia and Kenya rest on a solid foundation of long-term friendship that stood the test of time. As President Kenyatta put it in Sochi, it is time to rekindle our friendship and cooperation.
Russia totally shares this sentiment. We are ready to take our cooperation to the next level for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries, and I am optimistic because we have everything to make this happen.
What makes Russia different from others is that we fully respect the sovereignty and freedom of our friends and partners.
And we are patient. To conclude, I would like to warmly thank the Nation for this opportunity to share the Russian perspective on so many issues with the Kenyan public. Truth will prevail!