August 13, 2021

Pro-Moscow activist in Ukraine says only an outside force can change Kyiv’s direction


In an indication of what the Kremlin may be being told, a pro-Moscow activist in the Donbas says that there are no internal forces capable of changing Ukraine’s direction and that it will cease to be “the anti-Russia” Vladimir Putin talks about if outside force is brought to bear on that country.

On the one hand, such an argument is very much in the interests of those in Ukraine who want it to become part of the Russian world and even amalgamate with the Russian Federation. But on the other, it is a remarkable concession to the reality that Ukraine is far less divided than Moscow propagandists and the Kremlin invariably suggest.

That makes the words of Yury Apukhtin, a pro-Moscow activist from Kharkiv who spent time in a Ukrainian prison for his actions in 2014, noteworthy because they indicate that at least some taking part in debates over what Russia should do next believe the application of Russian force is the only way forward (

Mr. Apukhtin begins by echoing Russian President Vladimir Putin that “the Ukraine Project was thought up and carried out by the West … for the destruction of Russian civilization” and will be used by the West for that purpose as long as it exists in its current form. Consequently, Mr. Apukhtin said, there is no chance that Moscow can ignore the situation or allow Ukraine to evolve toward collapse on its own.

Unfortunately, “Russia today does not have any possibilities for affecting Ukraine by ‘soft power,’” Mr. Apukhtin said. Among the rulers of Ukraine, there is now no one oriented toward Russia, and Moscow is not in a position to change that by talk. No one in Ukraine ultimately will listen to the Russian side, he added.

In thinking about what to do, Mr. Apukhtin said, everyone in Moscow must understand that, “for the transformation of the country, there are simply no internal forces, and this regime [in Kyiv] can exist for quite a long time and its ‘self-destruction’ will be a long time coming, something that constitutes a serious threat to the national interests of Russia.”

Paul Goble is a long-time specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. The article above is reprinted with permission from his blog called “Window on Eurasia” (