Alex Danilov: between “doves” and “hawks”, I’m always a realist (Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine)

Alex Danilov was appointed NSDC Secretary in October last year, after several months Deputy Alexander danyluk. This personnel decision was perceived with bewilderment. First, Daniel wasn’t there a candidate Zelensky during the active phase of the campaign. Secondly, in the last few years, he generally withdrew from active political life.

A native of the city of Krasnyi Luch, which is now occupied part of the Donbass, Danilov was at one time the people’s Deputy of the fifth convocation and the Chairman of the Luhansk state administration back in 2005. The last seven years he worked as the head of the Ukrainian entrepreneurship support Fund.

In October of last year the appointment of Daniel in the Council for up briefly commented in the following way: “some of the adults still have to work in this government.” However, the return from political obscurity to one of the most influential positions in the country in a state of war, can be called a feature of personnel policy since the presidency Zelensky. In addition to the challenges associated with the war in the Donbas, the national security Council under the leadership of Daniel and added the new: first, the accident of the Ukrainian plane in Iran, and subsequently the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this interview was postponed several times because of the constant employment of Daniel. And the last time, just the day before, for a patient with coronavirus employee of the national security Council. The day before this conversation, the Secretary of the NSDC, since the beginning of the pandemic, had to make for the fourth test covid-19.

We are meeting with Danilov in the office of the President. His office is equipped with screens on which real-time recorded data on the situation in the Donbass, and statistics of the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“The post medical officer appeared in the country because of me”

Ukrainian truth: As a journalist, I still remember the days when the post of Secretary of the national security and defense was a honorary reference. That all changed in 2014-m year, when the country was already at war. You became Secretary of the national security Council in October 2019. Since then, the challenges in addition to the war added another pandemic coronavirus. How do you feel in the current situation?

Alex Danilov: Difficult. Why? Because apart from military things, there are a lot of challenges for the state, a lot of responsibility, a lot of tasks. And therefore, since the third of October, that is since I was appointed Secretary, I can tell that are constantly in a very tense state.

So you imagined your job in the autumn of 2019, the year?

— A little differently imagined work. I thought that much is being done, relatively speaking, in automatic mode. The system should work. I always say that the system is far better than its absence. A drawback of many tools is quite a big problem.

There is such expression: “have the beginning of the revolution, no revolution at the end.” We have a lot of things in the country begins, but not ends, they are somewhere in the middle stop, and then start some new, new, new and this a very big problem. We in the office of the Council of national security and defense see the consequences of these things really hit our state, according to our internal problems.

— You can say what?

Is the situation with the reform of the Ministry of health at the beginning was, but it’s not over. So today we are in a very difficult position on matters relating covid-19. We are faced, for example, that the country was not the chief sanitary doctor. There is an epidemic, the chief sanitary doctor there, and all the regulations is the person who is directly responsible for sanitary-and-epidemiologic condition of our country.

And I can say that I directly had to do with the emergence of Victor Lyashko. This occurred the eleventh of February, when we in the national security Council gathered an expanded meeting, which was attended by the Minister (of health in the office of Alexey Goncharuk — approx. transl.) Skalecka and I was there at least 35-40 people, and I ask: “Where is our chief sanitary doctor?”. There is the silence. I said, “I do not understand”. Answer: “And we have none.” Then continue: “Wait, how come no chief sanitary doctor, we are now in a situation of a pandemic?”. I said, “who are the deputies of the Minister [of health], there are?”. Say “Yes”. At that meeting, attended by three Deputy. Victor stood up and said, “I’m the Deputy”. I suggest: “Look, assign this man’s doctor”. Here’s how it happened.

Then we waited for the return of the first Ukrainians from Wuhan. Was a very stressful time, because our healthcare system was not ready. It is a fact. And the fact that we pulled this situation in time, many lives saved.

— Can you explain this point? When all you, as Secretary of the national security Council realized that the pandemic will determine your work within 2020 and that the country should direct all their efforts to overcome the pandemic?

— Pandemic is a challenge. But this is not the only challenge in the Council of national security and defense and the machine itself. Covid, I believe we will win, because it is not only Ukraine’s problem, it is a world problem.

Finally, we have seen that this is a huge problem, the twenty-fifth of January, when we received our intelligence data. Of what was discussed there, we realized that will happen in the future. At that time China did everything possible to obtain from all countries of the world as many masks, equipment, everything that concerns the protection against infectious diseases.

They also appealed to Ukraine, and we immediately reacted to it. I know that the first letter in the name of Alexei Goncharuk received thirty-first of January. Then there was the second, when they did not react to it. It was a very difficult situation, I have had many conversations with the Cabinet. I explained to them that, well, guys, it is urgent to prohibit export of equipment.

I want to note that the national Security apparatus and defence is a body which coordinates activities, we are not the Executive authority. The Executive authority is the Cabinet of Ministers. But having this information and understanding what is happening in this area, we began to prepare and prepare very powerful.

Already since the eleventh of January, despite the situation in Tehran (the collapse of the Ukrainian “Boeing” the fault of the Iranian side — approx. transl.), a separate group has already started to work covid. And on the twentieth of January we already had around the clock to gather information, everything that is happening with how prepared countries around the world. We each, every day it is practiced.

— Was there enough coordination of actions of the government at the initial stage? Your rating?

— If you say Yes, it means to tell a lie. A lot of people didn’t realize how it was threatening. All believed that pass. There were many such: “And now begins the summer and all will be well.” Thought this will remain only in Wuhan or only in China.

We started to gather experts, primarily virologists and every two or three days, and consulted with them. They gave their predictions that this will come to us, this can not be avoided, we must prepare for this. We understand that the challenges will be enormous.

— How was built the work of the national security Council? How many people were in this first group, how you briefed the President about the situation in the beginning?

— Informing Vladimir Alexandrovich began with the first day. He immediately perceived this as a serious problem. For me it was very nice that he understands. I now have a not very nice function for the President. Because I every day at 8:15 am send him a message — how many of us got sick, many died, and separately how many have died of doctors. For each figure there are people, there is life. And it’s a very very difficult situation when you every morning and on Saturday and Sunday, have to report on deaths.

But a lot of people still don’t understand how this dangerous disease. Today, these night clubs, all of these Odessa and many other things were predictable, all because of human behavior. They believe that they are safe, that they will not touch it and everything. But it is not so. It’s a disease that you can’t see and that’s the difficulty.

“I did four tests”

— When the decision on introduction of quarantine, weighed all the implications of the economic situation the way it is introduced in other countries. And it had an impact, including epidemiological picture we saw. In Ukraine for a long time she was more or less restrained. The jump occurred relatively recently. And stop it until you succeed, even if you declare a quarantine.

Now it is extremely difficult to declare a quarantine, because you can declare once and continue a specific period. When there was easing, we turned to the people, Vladimir Aleksandrovich directly addressed — be careful, use protective masks, disinfectants, antiseptics.

Not everyone understands this. But when you are in society, you have no right to do that. Must be a distance one and a half meters, if you are in a public place — a protective mask. It should be a mandatory thing.

Many problems that are associated with the information flow when people start saying that there is no covid not, and it’s all fiction. We understand that besides the fact that we are at physical war with the Russian Federation, we also have a information program. Against this background, let’s say, an information war, in addition to the physical war is very, very powerful.

— It’s all clear. But you have to say about the behavior of the authorities. When you see the photo, as, for example, the President is drinking coffee in a cafe, and the chief sanitary doctor. Or when work establishments Nikolay Tishchenko. Or remembering your jokes broadcast “1+1” when you said that we should be treated bacon and garlic…

— No, I didn’t say to be treated. I said for prevention. Different things…

— But you understand that all this is an echo of the people? They have to trust you as a representative?

— Come with me. First, I wasn’t kidding. I can repeat: if you use volatile, that exist in garlic and onions, it is very useful. Because all viruses, they are afraid of it. This is the first. This is not a joke.

As for other things, of course, sad that it happened. I don’t think this was done deliberately. This, of course, was a mistake, but it was fixed. Was fined seventeen thousand hryvnias each. But the courts said that the President can not impose a fine.

— The question is not seventeen thousand hryvnias of a penalty, and that hundreds of thousands of people across the country saw it and thought it was fine. That is, if the President can, why can’t I?

Well look, it happened. Maybe it was some emotional thing. The President said he wanted to pay the money, because it has to be for everyone. By the way, in the office of the President, all the structures are quite rigid regarding masks, disinfectants and so on.

— What is the future forecast, I can say? We see the growth of diseases and at the same time — a lot of people on the streets of the tourist cities of Lviv, Odessa.

— We have a program. We have artificial intelligence that considers forecasts. Importantly, we were able to survive — we have maintained our system to ensure hospitals dealing specifically with the treatment process. And we did, she had already established. When was the first case — it was scary.

Today we have professional doctors have even cured those patients whom we could not pull it off in March, when the pandemic. It is now a completely different training. But if people will take that to them is irrelevant, believe me, will knock this virus will come. And it will be very dangerous.

— Figures can be tell how the situation will develop, for example, until the end of summer?

— We have an understanding, but I would not want these numbers to scare you. I can say that today we are prepared, but people need their behavior to normalize the quarantine period. And I do not advise anyone with this joke. I personally did four tests. Even we for the first time are unable to meet, because one of our employees of the situation centre was sick. We made epibrassinolide, everything should be according to the procedure, and took time out in order to in any case not risk. Moreover, even before our meeting yesterday, I passed the tests because I am responsible.

“The most dangerous people who think they know everything because to know everything is impossible”

— We talk a lot about covid. But we must not forget that the country is at war. Very interesting to know what efforts are now directed in this direction of the Council what is happening and is there any prospect of holding elections in the Donbass, which is now being actively discussed?

— The situation at the front is difficult, but it is stable. We have a clear understanding of where our army, where is army of our enemies. And she is today more or less adjusted. There are dead. Is very worried, because Vladimir Aleksandrovich in the same way each morning receives a report — what happens at the front, how many wounded, how many dead. And when there are zeros, the mood is a little improved.

As for the elections in the Donbass, we must place certain conditions to where they were. At the moment, the day of our conversation, I don’t see how there can be elections occur. If there are any changes, any processes, sooner or later there will be elections.

But they should be held on the Ukrainian territory, on polling station should be the Ukrainian flag, is supposed to be Ukrainian media, Ukrainian political forces. They must happen according to the Ukrainian legislation, according to the Ukrainian Constitution and the Ukrainian Central electoral Commission should conduct them there. While it’s hard to imagine such conditions.

Vladimir very much attention. There is a separate group that works in the Minsk process, a separate group that works with the Channel process. These people are making a lot of effort and we would very much like to see high quality results in favor of Ukraine.

Compromise? Yes, they are possible, but there are certain bounds beyond which we can not go. Why? Because we do not allow the Ukrainian people. Ukraine has never been a dictator and never will be. Today we are the frontier of freedom. Therefore, the Ukrainian people will not allow big compromise with the enemy.

But if in previous years, until 2019, for example, I had a feeling that Ukraine is a country of resistance, in the last year it gradually disappears. Many speak about some kind of compromise with Russia. People think so, including due to the sometimes very servile statements of the President, where he articulates Putin as the aggressor. At the same time, you talk a bit about other things. I wonder: is the consolidated position of the government or is it a separate position of Alexei Myacheslavovich Daniel as a person?

— No, don’t deny me power, I am the Secretary of the national security Council, the head of our President, and we need to look at the results. The result is understandable. This is Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including the Crimea, including the occupied territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Russian troops — this will be our result.

Now there is the negotiation procedure that we inherited: the Minsk agreement, channel format, we have to use them. If we see that this is not possible, then it will probably be another option. Before the meeting in France was a closed meeting of the Council, there were presented five options of our actions regarding how to behave by our opponents.

Today we go in the first embodiment. Whether applied for the second, third, fourth or fifth — it will all depend on how will develop the situation. I don’t see today that has happened something of what you have said regarding Russia concessions and compromises. Can I have more information, I can’t get you for some reason to disclose, but I’m optimistic.

In any presidential team was in the times Poroshenko, is, during the probably Zelensky — there is, relatively speaking, the divide between “hawks” and “doves”. That is, between the people advocating for a compromise or for a more decisive action. I understand that you belong to the “hawks”?

I would relate myself to the Secretary of the security Council and defense, I have my own vision on many issues, and I have no problems with communicating their point of view, Vladimir Alexandrovich and explaining why I think so.

— He listens to you?

— Look, my goal is to provide the maximum amount of information for Vladimir Alexandrovich as President of our country as commander in chief, as the guarantor of the Constitution. That’s my job. How he uses it? I’m not the only one who comes into the office of the President and expresses his own opinion. I have my own vision on many issues, I’ve never not hide. I was born free in the town of Krasny Luch and me street some time was raised.

But there are things, for example, the question of language is a very important issue for the state. No second, Russian, we can not be — not because it is not necessary to study, it is not necessary to know. If we are talking about Ukraine there must be only state language Ukrainian.

Should there be a second language in Ukraine? Of course, it should be. But it has to be English to be taught starting in kindergarten. All citizens of Ukraine, if we want to be in the civilized world, must know and use English. This is a mandatory thing.

— Let’s all get back to the President Zelensky. Tell me honestly: who he listens to more in matters of national security and the situation in the Donbas — to you or to Andrew Yermak?

— Your question is not quite correct. Andrew Miller is head of the office of the President I Secretary of Council of national security and defense. He has his functions as the head office, it provides certain procedures, I ensure their procedures.

— So I’m actually asking because today, the head of the office of the President is engaged in a wide range of tasks — and international politics and the conflict in the Donbass. And much of this is not included in the functionality of a man who must lead the office of the President.

— I emphasize again: the functional, which is Andrei Borisovich, it is determined by the President. You said “doves” and “hawks”, I’m a realist. I clearly understand that specific events will occur. The most dangerous people who think they know everything because to know everything is impossible. You may know a lot, but you should have the understanding to understand a particular issue. And when it comes to a man says: “I know I can do it”, it is very dangerous.

We’re talking about compromises, which finished Ukraine or the Ukrainian government, and the personal compromise of Alex Danilov — where it’s going?

— There are certain things that I can’t cross…

— Well, for example, water supply in Crimea in exchange for a ceasefire in the Donbass is included in the list of such things?

— The cease-fire, or some other things?

— Well, for example, the end of the conflict in the Donbass in exchange for water?

— Look, you use the phrase “conflict,” such phrases I do not use. The aggression of the Russian Federation, it is my civil position, and no civil conflict, there is no way someone out there thinks. The resumption of water supply is possible only after the restoration of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

But in the current government there are people for whom this compromise is possible. At least, this is evidenced by the statements of David Arakhamiya or Denis Smagala. This suggests that these issues are discussed in the President’s office.

I don’t know. At the meeting of the national security Council, this issue was not raised. We in the national security Council, a separate group that deals with the strategy of de-occupation of Crimea. But we must understand that this is not a simple issue that can be dealt with, you know, so — again, and all was solved. This is a very complex issue, the group is working with Alexey Reznikov, he is in the same group. And we occasionally exchange information. At the same time in history there are many examples where one or the other country as an invader, taken someone else’s, but then returned.

“In that kind in which there is this monster Ukroboronprom, he can not exist”

— Among the topics dealt with by the national security Council also extremely important, concerning the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. This the state defense order, and the question of the reform of the Ukroboronprom (CRM). In this company for a long time is a new team and not so long ago, she proposed a vision for reform, which, as I understand it, the Council does not support. You are some kind of trench warfare with a team of Ukroboronprom? Can you explain what it is?

Well, first, no trench warfare we have with Ukroboronprom no. I always say that we need to look at the root. What Ukroboronprom? Where did he come from? This is the company, which was established by the Russian Federation to fully control the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. Mr. Salamatin (the Director General and then Minister of defense during the Yanukovych — approx. Yn) according to the information that we have, was the direct employee of special services of the Russian Federation. When he led this institution all started.

And that we have such Ukroboronprom today? It is part of, and today it is not dominant in our military-industrial complex of the country. There are many private companies dealing with these issues, which Ukroboronprom exclusively indicated prices. We believe that in the form in which this monster can not exist.

In principle the proposal for the two Parties is the same: it can not exist in this form. The reform envisages division of all enterprises into three groups. This way you do not like?

— What does it mean to divide into three groups? The devil is in such details. And who said that there should be three groups? Why not ten? And anyway, what does this have to do with the structure of Ukroboronprom, who lives on taxpayers ‘ money?

Who pays for the content Ukroboronprom? For the content of the Ukroboronprom companies pay our military-defense complex, which is funded by the state. We give money to these enterprises, we order a particular product for defense purposes, and they should share a percentage of the Ukroboronprom. Well, that’s not fair — it’s in the first place. Secondly, we had an open discussion, open position on this issue. And about any showdown with Ukroboronprom General question.

— What will change the situation? Now you should see a new post of Deputy Prime Minister for defense industry? But how would that change the situation around CRM?

I want you and realized that Ukroboronprom is only part of the military-industrial complex, which exists in our country. It may not be, first, a monopoly, he had no such right did not give. It was accepted by the Cabinet of Ministers. But for a long time hindered, for it forbade the two Parties to establish private companies the prices at which they sell their products abroad.

If you are the market workers, and nearly ten months have passed, then you would be on the second day had to say, guys — this is not a market function, let us refuse from it. I don’t want to get personal, but we have a national position — Vice Prime Minister should be. Why? Because it is extremely important for our country’s industry. This may be one of the few industries that is still in healthy condition.

When in Soviet period said that the Soviet Union produces missiles, it’s not entirely untrue. Why? The rockets made Ukraine — the Dnieper, Pavlograd, it was a vicious cycle. Those missiles, which we have done, and the item that was in the Ukraine, it scared the whole world.

— What tasks must precede the profile Deputy Prime Minister? What he should have KPI (key performance indicators — approx. transl.) from you personally as the Secretary of the national security Council?

— First, you have to understand, I have no KPI Deputy Prime Minister on this issue can not give. It is a false idea that the apparatus of the national security Council, manages and makes a difference. We are the coordinating body. Our task is to help where we can, in the first place.

Secondly, it will depend on what will the team. Today we offer a slightly different approach: it doesn’t have to be one person should be a team of people who can with each other to work. This is a very difficult situation. If we lose the military-industrial complex, it would be a disaster.

By the way, regarding the production of missiles you very criticized in the beginning of the year because of the alleged cuts to the missile program, the state defense order. There were allegations on the part of Sergey Krivonos and Yuri Butusova…

— See Krivonos, Butusov. I have great respect for Mr. Krivonos, but I think that this is a military man, his place in the army. Secondly, what concerns Yury Butusov. I called him and said, “Yuri, where did you get information that is not true?”. Because everything that happens in our missile program, it is only then that it all works one hundred percent. Any deviations from the program that was installed — no.

— A bit of a loaded question for the Secretary of the national security Council… We can’t know whether sokrasheny missile program or not, because in General the State defense order (SDO) in Ukraine is a classified document. And it gives space for corruption.

Your personal opinion, what percentage of the state defense order can be open, so there was a different story. For example, I have personally seen in the documents of the boat “Gyurza” manufacturing plant “Lenin’s smithy”…

— You don’t love Peter (smiles)…

…for twelve million dollars, at that time, such as Combat Boat, the Swedish boat — the equivalent is one million dollars. On the one hand to avoid the possibility of corruption stories, but not the other to access important information for Russia?

— See, well, first, I look for openness — where you can open. And secondly, in the modern world you hide nothing, it is simply impossible. So what concerns the defence of the order, there are things that need to be classified from the point of view of security of the country. Of course, a lot of things to be made public.

For example, I can say that exactly?

— You want me to I said “GURZA” need to be opened. Today in Parliament there is bill No. 2398, which controls it all, and I think the deputies for it will vote. Because of course there are things that should be declassified.It’s just coming back to the question of Ukroboronprom, who all these years lived let’s close, let’s here the price will raise, then all will be well. Well, you can’t. In addition, with the 10th, 11th, and 12th years, a lot of weapons just to sell as junk. If information was discovered, this would not have happened.

— Returning to the Ukroboronprom. The reform plan, which exists now, you don’t like. Several years ago I discussed this issue with the former Minister of industrial policy. And then he insisted that some of the companies included in the group, you just need to privatize. Part shall be classified. What is your vision?

— First, there are companies that have no relationship to the military-industrial complex. They were attributed at the time to be able to assign the user and earn money. These businesses urgently needs to send, and this is just our concept, the state property Fund. And he sells them at the auction that wants them and does.

There is also a part of businesses that must remain a hundred percent in the state. There are not many, it is a strategic enterprise, without which we cannot exist. There are a large number of companies, which we need to attract foreign partners with investment and technology, so we can work together to produce modern products.

Today there is a big problem when every three or four years there are new technologies in the defense industry. In this area Champions are the United States, Japan, Germany and many other countries. But we can’t take advantage of these developments. If we are not in cooperation, in synergy, we will be able to get only ten or fifteen years.

There is a fine piece of equipment, without which modern to make things very, very difficult. And my vision is very simple: maximum involvement of NATO countries for joint production of modern products. I understand that this is a very complex process, moreover, I realize that our neighbor will do everything possible to make this partnership did not happen.

— Unfortunately, it looks fantastic.

— Really is fantastic there is nothing. I was born in the Soviet times and could not imagine that I will be the Secretary of Council of national security and defense that I am mayor of the city of Lugansk. I thought I’d be Deputy, you know? But if you have the desire, if you are moving your way, you will definitely succeed. It is an axiom.

— A year ago, when you were appointed to this post, my famous colleague, when I asked her about the logic of this appointment, said Zelensky need something from adults, bearing in mind that you have had at least some political and administrative experience…

— No, no, no. First, I do not feel that I am the adult in this power is, in the first place. Secondly, Vladimir, with whom we communicated even before he became President, and Vladimir, with whom I communicate now, it’s two different people from the point of view of many global processes. He also dreamed of that can quickly make all, but it is not. He is very quickly gaining, gaining, gaining, gaining. Believe me, I believe that all will be well.

— The concept “good” has many shades… why is it OK for you?

— Ukraine — a large, powerful European state. In the borders, which was recognized in 1991.