A former Russian lawmaker has taken up arms and is currently fighting with Ukrainian Forces to fight his homeland because he wants “to defend humanity and Europe.” Ilya Ponomarev, formerly part of Russia’s Duma, is one of the few instances where you would actually see a Russian fighting on the Ukrainian side in unform. While he did say he was fighting on the side of the Ukrainians, we do not have information regarding what capacity he is serving in.
Ponomarev is not new to Ukraine, nor is he a new ally of Ukraine. In fact, Ponomarev gained notoriety in Russia and Ukraine in 2014 when he was the only Russian lawmaker who voted against Putin’s annexation of Crimea, making him a target in Moscow. When the Russian Duma passed the resolution to annex Crimea in a vote which tallied 445-1, Ponomarev was the “1” vote in dissent.
After this vote was called, populist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky called for him to be kicked out of the Duma as his vote was “anti-state.” However, another senior member said that he could not be kicked out simply for the way they voted. Ponomarev would soon be forced to leave Russia Russia fearing being imprisoned or assassination. He said that there was no room for “independent thought” in parliament as they were all loyal to Putin.
In 2016, he was impeached by the Russian Duma. He later moved to Ukraine as he was on Putin’s hit list for opposing the Russian President.
— CNN (@CNN) April 13, 2022
When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper how he ended up fighting with Ukrainian troops, Ponomarev answered, “What else could I do under those circumstances?”
“When [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s forces were advancing, we needed to defend the country. We needed to defend the capital. We needed to the, you know… sorry for saying this but… the humanity and Europe.”
“Do you worry about the Russian forces retaliating against you? Do you worry about being targeted or what might happen if they capture you?” Tapper asked.
“I was on their hit list. I was informed about this well beforehand. Many people, for example, in the United States, they’ve given me a word of caution that I should evacuate myself and my family,” Ponomarev replied.
“But that was not my purpose being in Ukraine in very the first place. I didn’t want to have a quiet life. I wanted to have an efficient life.” he said. “I’m sure we will prevail,” he added.
Ponomarev believes that Putin will lose the war in Ukraine and called his former boss a “dictator.”
“No dictator can survive after losing the war, and he has no way how he can win the war,” he said. However, he stated that Putin would try to twist the narrative somehow and claim victory even though it was clear that he actually lost.
“Putin will try to claim a certain victory — an imaginary victory — on the May 9th. I am absolutely certain about this, but the reality is that he is losing the war,” he said.
“The reality is that he is losing the war, and I think that the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people will not stop before Ukrainian territory will be free – and it will.”
SOFREP has also claimed that Russia may be looking at May 9th as their off-ramp to end the war in Ukraine.
“For Putin and Russia, each day that passes means growing discontent in Russia over the conduct of the war and the increased effects from economic sanctions imposed by the West on his population,” SOFREP Editor In Chief, Sean Spoonts wrote speaking of the May 9th deadline.
May 9th in Russia is known as Victory Day, which commemorates them defeating the Nazis in 1945. This is where those large, celebratory military parades happen in Russia. Most people treat it as a major holiday over there, attending the parade and seeing their “elite” weaponry.
These reports are also in line with Ukrainian intelligence as they claim that the Russian forces are being told that they have to end the war by May 9th. One of their objectives before May 9th was that they should have control over the majority of the Donbas region by then.
Ponomarev was then asked about his thoughts on the Bucha massacre, where bodies are continually still being found in mass graves.
“They want to spread terror. They [are] hoping that the Ukrainian population, the ordinary Ukrainians, would actually rebel against their leadership to stop the war. I think we are way beyond that. The Ukrainian nation is united like never before,” he explained.
He also said that the leadership in Russia does not understand the state of the Ukrainian nation. Ponomarev also confirmed that Russian intelligence is “lousy” and that all their generals are “wrong.” This confirms earlier reports that the FSB was feeding Putin the wrong information as they had to present intelligence in such a way that Russia would seem like the victor. As a result, Putin is believed to have sacked as many as 150 fifty officials in the FSB.
“They are experiencing all those defeats in Ukraine, because they do not actually understand what is happening inside the country.”