In the past week, Moscow has finally, at the official level, voiced what's been said in various interpretations, but almost constantly, across the Kremlin offices. In fact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his latest interview with RBC on February, by referring to Ukraine as an unfriendly state, unequivocally voiced Moscow's modern-day stance toward Kyiv.
Moreover, at Russia's highest political level, Ukraine was recently publicly branded a "geopolitical project" handled by the West. More than a frank statement, indeed, leaving no doubt as to the true attitude of Russian authorities towards their neighboring country.
Today in Russia, Ukraine is seen as an adversary
It is no big secret that, translated from diplomatic language, "unfriendly" means "hostile". That is, today in Russia we are considered their adversary, so they act, and will act, accordingly.
So, perhaps, it is time for us to finally leave behind any illusions about the prospects of reaching a lasting compromise in negotiations – let alone any hope for some kind of "peaceful coexistence" with Russia, at least, for the foreseeable future…
What should Ukraine expect in light of the recent events?
Ukraine should take into account that escalation in Donbas is highly likely
Of course, Ukraine should take into account that escalation in Donbas is highly likely. All kinds of provocative action along the Russia-Ukraine border can't be ruled out either.
It is not difficult to predict that the pro-Russian "fifth column" will boost its efforts in Ukraine.
All sorts of Russian economic blackmail are quite predictable – unfortunately, not enough has been done in recent years to drastically reduce our dependence on Russia.
There is also a high probability of massive, insidious cyberattacks
There is also a high probability of massive, insidious cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure and government agencies.
Another dirty campaign aiming to compromise Ukraine in the international arena in terms of alleged "oppression of freedom of speech" is absolutely predictable. Undoubtedly, Russia's entire information influence toolkit will be applied to this end. Obviously, high-profile Kremlin media pundits and long-time Russian sympathizers in third countries will also be involved.
Ukraine must keep in mind the option of direct military confrontation
Against the background of a major heating up of anti-Western rhetoric in Russia (sometimes turning hysterical), the option of direct military confrontation must be kept in mind. This option has long been boiling in the Kremlin kitchen: the accelerated naturalization of Ukrainian nationals living in temporarily occupied Donbas is set to create a pretext for a possible attack, so convenient for Moscow hawks, which is "protection of compatriots."
This means that people in Ukraine should prepare properly and extensively today to be ready for all the scenarios mentioned.
Oleg Belokolos is a Chairman of the Board at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, Member of the Political Council at the Syla I Chest Party