Russian Empire Will Fall as Areas Rebel Over War: Ukraine Defense Minister

Russia's "empire" will fall as different areas it lays claim to rebel over the Ukraine war, Ukraine's defense minister has said, predicting the breakup of the Russian Federation.

The democratic world had united to defeat Russia and the war would finally end its empire, Oleksii Reznikov told The Times of London.

"I'm sure that in the next few years we will see a procession of calls for sovereignty on Russian territory. The Russian Federation will finish its life as different countries— Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, etc," Reznikov, 56, said in the interview published on Sunday.

Even President Vladimir Putin's alliances with Hungary and Kazakhstan were fracturing, Reznikov said, pointing to Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's pledge to uphold Western sanctions on Russia and his refusal to recognise the independence of parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists.

Tensions between Russia and Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, broke into the open last week when a Russian court ordered the closure of a key pipeline that carries oil from Kazakhstan. Moscow's move to halt crude oil exports via a Black Sea port will also have a detrimental impact on European countries —many of which have sanctioned Russia in response to the war—that rely on Kazakh oil.

Tokayev had a phone conversation with EU Council President Charles Michel on July 4 to assure the 27-nation bloc that it would help it tackle its energy crisis. Energy prices were high before Putin decided to invade Ukraine in February, but they have continued to increase amid the war as Russia was a key supplier to Europe.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's Foreign Ministry for comment.

Putin launched his attack on Ukraine on February 24, citing NATO's aggressive stance in eastern Europe and the need to "de-Nazify" Ukraine as his reasons. Since the fighting began, thousands of people have died and millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, causing a refugee crisis.

The fighting is currently focused on the eastern Donbas region, including the areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, where Russian-backed separatists have declared their independence from Ukraine.

Reznikov also told the newspaper that Ukraine was amassing a million-strong force equipped with Western weapons to recover its southern territory from Russia. Strategically important coastal cities like Mariupol are crucial to Ukraine's economy.

"We understand that, politically, it's very necessary for our country," the minister said. "The president has given the order to the supreme military chief to draw up plans."

"I'm writing letters to counterparts in partner countries, the generals talk about why we need this kind of weaponry and then we get the political decisions," he added.

He added that he was satisfied with the support NATO members were providing to Ukraine but not the pace at which they were delivering the weapons to them.

"We need more, quickly, to save the lives of our soldiers. Each day we're waiting for howitzers, we can lose a hundred soldiers," Reznikov said.

Oleksii Reznikov in Germany
Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov attends the Ukraine Security Consultative Group meeting at Ramstein air base on April 26, 2022 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. Russia’s empire will fall as different areas rebel over the Ukraine war, the conflict-torn country’s defense minister has said. Thomas Lohnes/Getty