A Russian ultra-nationalist and former political figure has said that Moscow must destroy Ukrainians and put them in re-education camps.
Pavel Gubarev made the comments during an interview posted by journalist and Russia watcher Julia Davis on X (formerly Twitter). It started with a question about Moscow’s failure to take Kyiv in the early stages of Vladimir Putin‘s full-scale invasion.
The clip was also shared on the X account of Ukrainian internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko. It has the watermark of Knizhni Mir, a publishing house in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Gubarev gave a talk on September 24.
Gubarev is a Ukrainian-born Russian political figure and soldier who was prominent in Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014. That year, he proclaimed himself the “people’s governor” of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk oblast, before being sidelined by other separatist leaders.
In May 2023, Gubarev became one of the leaders of the Russian pro-war ultranationalist group, the Club of Angry Patriots, which has called for the country to go on a full war footing to win in Ukraine. He protested against the arrest of another of the group’s key figures, Igor Girkin (Strelkov), who was detained after he repeatedly criticized Russia’s military leadership.
In the interview, Gubarev said Russia had failed to appraise correctly the level of training that Ukrainian troops had undertaken since 2014 and that there had been Russian intelligence shortcomings.
Gubarev added that Russian troops, which numbered around 25,000, were forced to leave Kyiv. They were insufficient to take a large metropolitan area such as the Ukrainian capital and that front units got bogged down and the equipment was below-par.
“There was no communication” and the new technologies connecting drones and artillery, which had been effective in the Donbas region for Ukrainian and Donetsk forces, “turned out to be a novelty for Russia’s armed forces.”
Gubarev said that, facing colossal losses, it was logical for Russian forces to retreat from Kyiv, “unlike the Kharkiv catastrophe.” This refers to the retreat from the eastern Ukrainian oblast in September 2022.
“We don’t have much of a choice; we can either win or lose. There can be some tactical peace deal, but there is no way to bring peace to this situation,” Gubarev added.
He said that Russian forces had entered a “conflict of annihilation” and that “it’s either us or them,” before repeating a quote that he had given in a previous interview that Moscow would win and “will destroy 1, 2, 3 or 5 million Ukrainians.”
“It’s not based on me being bloodthirsty; it’s just a fact,” Gubarev said. “We either have to win or lose,” and losing would mean “the decolonization of Russia.”
Gubarev described the Ukrainian army as one of the strongest armies in the world, and that they were brave, although he said that they were “no different from us,” repeating the idea pushed by nationalists that Ukraine is not a separate nation.
“But they are infected with the virus of anti-Russianness,” Gubarev said. “I don’t know how we can live together after our victory, short of cutting them all out, carrying out genocide on them all.
“We will have to re-educate them. We will have to drag some of them through camps,” Gubarev added. “Some will have to be persuaded not just with words.”
The comments provoked a strong reaction online. Gerashchenko said they showed how Gubarev “openly calls for genocide.”
“An absolute masterpiece in the expression of the fascist mentality,” wrote one user in the comments under the clip posted on underneath the video on Davis’s YouTube Channel, Russian Media Monitor. “I think it is the most bone-chilling interview I have watched during the entire war.”
“The calmness he speaks of the necessity of genocide is chilling,” posted another user.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email for comment.