Russia, he said, was „thinking geopolitically“ both on the eve of the Battle of Orsha more than 500 years ago and now. This, he said, was also demonstrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech the day before the invasion of Ukraine.
„He is thinking historically and geopolitically. And the main idea of this military campaign, in my opinion, was to take over the whole of Eastern Europe. Because the Russians know (...) that with Ukraine, Russia is a great empire. Without Ukraine, it is nothing. So the aim and the idea was to take Ukraine and then, after securing the resources, to attack Eastern Europe: the Baltic States, Poland in the first place,“ said O. Arestovych, speaking at a conference in Vilnius to commemorate the 508th anniversary of the Battle of Orsha.
He also recalled that when Russia attacked Ukraine, „the best military experts“ predicted that the country would fall within three days.
„Today, we have been fighting for 197 days, so we have some secrets on how to do it. And I want to present them to you,“ the adviser said.
He said that Putin thinks he has already taken over Belarus, but he has not.
„We know that the Belarusians are providing resistance to the Putin-Lukashenko regime, Mrs Tsikhanouskaya said. So our main task is to win against Putin. This is our common fight against the Putin regime. It is not only the Ukrainians' task to defeat Putin. It is our common cause“, stressed Mr Arestovich.
The current situation in Ukraine, he said, is illustrated by a quote attributed to the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte that victory requires „luck and stupid enemies“.
„The Russians are really stupid. They started the war on nine fronts, which is absolutely stupid from a military point of view because to win against someone, you have to concentrate your forces on one or two main fronts. And they tried to take all our cities from the south to the east to the north“, said O. Arestovic.
He said that Russia made this mistake because it had lost track of how the Ukrainians were thinking, even though it had gathered all the necessary information about the country.
„They know everything, but they do not understand us. They should have understood two things before they went to war against us: the Ukrainians are the people who brought about two revolutions: in 2004 and 20014. If we rebelled against our own government twice, what are we going to do to the Russians who are coming to subjugate us?“ said a spokesman for the Zelensky administration.
He said that the defence of Donetsk airport should have given Russia an idea of the strength of the Ukrainian fighting spirit.
O. Arestovich stressed that the main idea that keeps this spirit alive is the Ukrainians' understanding that they are free.
„We understood this during the war, although we did not understand it before the war started“, he said.
Another answer to successful resistance, he said, is the ability to act independently. O. Arestovych recalled that the Ukrainian army had distributed over 100,000 automatic weapons to the territorial defenders and that the defenders had started to resist the Russian troops „even before they received military orders“.
Russia was almost overwhelmed, he said, because it did not expect the Russian-speaking Ukrainian population in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kherson, Dnipro, Donetsk and Luhansk to actively resist.
„The Russians were shocked because, in every window, there were people staring at them, shooting at them – they didn't expect that“, said O. Arestovich.
„They didn't understand how the Russian speakers could resist them in the most stubborn way. They thought that the Russian language meant Russian identity. They thought that this identity meant that we would meet them with flowers. But this was far from being the case“, he argued.
He compared this to the Battle of Orsha half a millennium ago when language also did not lead to fundamental differences between the populations, and they were able to unite against the threat.
„500 years ago, people chose European culture, European values. Just like 500 years ago, we mobilised our efforts against Moscow. The situation is the same now. I am afraid that the situation will remain the same for the next 50 years because Russians never change“, said Orestovich.
He hopes that Putin's regime will fall and „Russia will be liberated“.
„We will liberate Russia first. Because, in my opinion, the biggest victims of Putin's regime are the Russian people, as well as the Belarusian people“, Orestovich said.