Maria Avdeeva, research director at the European Expert Association, speaks to Leigh Sales, ABC News, with her personal insights into the preparedness of the Ukranian people for any conflict.
LEIGH SALES: Maria Avdeeva is a research director at the European Expert Association and is currently in Kharkiv, 40 kilometres from the Russian border.
Maria Avdeeva, you are based in Ukraine’s second largest city. Are people there assuming there will be an invasion and how are they dealing with that?
MARIA AVDEEVA, EUROPEAN EXPERT ASSOCIATION: People get all the time this worrying news about the massing troops on the Russian border and it is very close to Kharkiv, like 40 kilometres from our city.
So people do get worried but on the other hand, they are ready to fight and if there will be a major invasion, it will not be an easy war for any Russian soldiers because on the contrary from the situation in 2014, when Ukraine was not ready, that our closest neighbour will invade and will attack.
Now everyone knows what to do and we have territorial defence units and women also go there and people study what to do with the weapons, I mean just civilians.
And also, we have around 500,000 people with war experience, already been through this war, who have been combatants at that war. So they are ready to protect our land.
LEIGH SALES: Would it look like a conventional military campaign or would it be a different kind of war?
MARIA AVDEEVA: It could be both, because now what we see for the previous years, Kremlin and Putin are always trying to combine military operations with hybrid threat, with disinformation, with cyber-attacks.
So in this case it will probably be that scenario and also Putin and Kremlin and Russian forces, they need some pretext, it will be hard for them to explain to the world if they made a major invasion without any reason.
That is why they are looking to create some provocation, some pretext and we clearly see in the Russian media, Kremlin media, almost every day they are claiming that Ukraine with the support of our allies, with the support of US, Britain, Poland are somehow trying to attack the occupied territories of Donbas which is completely untrue because Ukraine doesn’t want to attack any country. Ukraine want to defend our land and that is what we were doing for the last eight years.
LEIGH SALES: Maria Avdeeva, thank you very much for your time today.
MARIA AVDEEVA: Thank you very much for having me.
Source: ABC News