In the center of Kyiv – under the protection of checkpoints, sandbags, soldiers and guns – stands the military heart of the city.

Here we meet with the head of the National Security Council of the country, Aleksey Danilov – President Zelensky most trusted security advisor.

Mr. Danilov is not a shrinking violet. We talk for 20 or 30 minutes, during which time his dark gaze never leaves me, and his concentration never fails. He firmly believes that the war will be won and Russia will suffer its consequences.

Also decided that we should know how much respect and love he has for the United Kingdom. I wonder if he has a message for the new prime minister?

Putin faces ‘inevitable defeat’ in southern Ukraine – watch the war live

“Britain has been helping us since the first days of the war,” says Mr. Danilov intensely. “When Boris Johnson was the prime minister, he communicated a lot with our president. On the first day and in the most difficult days, he constantly communicated with him.

“I am more than confident that the next Prime Minister will do for our country what Johnson and Truss have done, and that will be a continuation of the great help that the people of Great Britain have given.

“We have a great common cause, and we realize that we are on the side of the light of the whole of Europe and the whole civilized world. In addition to military aid, training our soldiers and taking in our refugees, Britain offered us Community Family Assistance. And this moral help is very important. She is unsurpassed.”

However, his joy fades. We are talking about a series of dark challenges. Rockets and drones, for example, have hit some cities and towns, destroying critical infrastructure and jeopardizing the country’s energy supply.

“This is what people’s lives depend on – the work of hospitals, schools, the lives of the elderly. This is humanitarian terrorism,” he says.

Then there is the Kakhovskaya dam, which, according to him, was mined by the Russian army “with a huge amount of explosives.”

Alyaksei Danilov is the most trusted security advisor to President Uladzimir Zelensky

Read more: What is a “dirty bomb” and is Russia planning to blow up the dam in Novaya Kakhovka?

There are claims that Russia may blow it up to stop the advance of Ukrainian troops on Kherson.

“We will have to wait and see, but if they do explode, the idea of ​​water supply in Crimea will disappear for 10-15 years, or maybe forever.

“Then the question arises, why do they need Crimea, if they are going to leave it without water.”

As for Kherson himself, he says the situation is “difficult,” but he doesn’t expect Russian troops to “retreat on their own … they have their own plan, which I think we understand.”

He’s setting the stage for a potentially brutal battle, I think.

He also fears that a new front could open in the north.

Russian troops are reportedly massing in Belarus (a country whose leaders Mr. Danilov holds in particular disdain), creating the illusion that they will cross the border and head south toward Kiev. He tells me that this is a topic he discussed with Mr. Zelensky before our meeting.

“Belarus was occupied by the Russian Federation for a long time,” he says, still watching intently. “Russia does everything it deems necessary there, especially when it concerns the military sphere and the work of Russian special services. In fact, they are under occupation.”

Read more:
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So can Belarus be a base for an attack?

“Yes, indeed, certain unpleasant events for our country may happen from that side after a certain time. They worked through this issue. And they can in a short time transfer a large number of their troops exactly along the path. by air and rail transport to Belarus”.

He tells me that Ukraine does not have a “dirty bomb”, despite the Kremlin’s claims, and does not have the necessary materials (“since 1994, when we gave everything [Soviet-era nuclear weapons previously stationed in Ukraine] to Russia for free”) and “we will not deal with this issue anyway – we are not North Korea, Iran or Russia”.

And then we get to the awkward part of the interview.

Before the meeting with Mr. Danilov, I read the opinion of several high-ranking European diplomats. One topic emerged – how can the war end? Would Ukraine accept a deal if it, for example, gave up land occupied by Russia since 2014 in exchange for, say, NATO membership?

Mr. Danilov’s gaze turns into a gaze.

“I don’t know who you are talking to in Europe and what these people have to do with our independence,” he frowned.

“Let me remind you that at one time he was a French figure [he refers to former President Nicolas Sarkozy] tried to negotiate with Russia regarding Georgia, Georgia lost part of its territories. After figures from France and Germany forced us to sign the Minsk agreements [in 2014], we lost part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. But we didn’t stop fighting for them and we didn’t stop defending it, because it’s ours.

“This is our constitution, this is our law, this is our land. Let it [European leaders] give your land to Putin. I want to see how their community, their constituents and their children will respond.

“Look, you can’t incite terrorists. Because in the future, their desire to capture, capture and capture again will only increase. This is a dangerous practice. They took an example from fascist Germany. So we have a very good memory.” Now Putin is not much different from Hitler – he is just a modern Hitler.

“From 1941 to 1945, Germany was at war with almost the whole world. In May 1945, it was left in ruins. The same will happen with Russia. They are doomed to it.”

So how, I wonder, will Ukraine and Russia ever reconcile? After all, even if the war ends, the geography won’t change – they’ll still share a large border.

“First of all, I don’t see that Putin will be in power for long,” says Mr. Danilov. “He is doing everything that depends on him so that Russia collapses. It is Putin who is destroying Russia with his actions.

“Secondly, other countries coexist with their neighbors, and there is no need to fight. There is no need to clarify relations through military means. And where will the borders be? I have repeatedly said that Ichkeria [Chechnya] will be free, Tatarstan will be free, many countries will be free. Whether it will happen this year, or next year, or in the near future – we’ll see.”

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Lavrov: “dirty bomb” statements are “groundless”

And this is the opinion that intoxicates and inspires so many people in Ukraine – the story of complete victory: that Ukraine will win, Russia will be defeated and Mr. Putin will fall.

The truth is that there are many in Europe who hope for a deal to end the war, but I suspect they will have a hard time convincing Mr. Danilov.

For the past eight months, Ukraine has been telling its people that it is fighting for the preservation of the entire country.

It would be difficult to move the goalposts now.

“Our society,” he says, “demands the liberation of all our lands from the Russian invaders.”

He doesn’t look or sound like someone ready to change his mind.