An interview with Sonya Koshkina

Sonya is a prominent Ukrainian journalist. She graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, and she has been teaching there for the past five years. Sonya worked as a political commentator in the Ukrainian newspaper “Den” and the news portal Obozrevatel. Since 2009, she has been editor-in-chief and founder of the news portal Livyi Bereh ( Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, she operates from Prague, where she collaborates with Radio Ukraine (“An hour with Sonya Koshkina” program), Charles University (Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Journalism), and the European Values Center for Security Policy. Sonya speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Italian. (European values)

If I may start, what is the current situation in Ukraine? We all just read news about the offensive in southern parts of the country. What does it mean in this conflict?

“It means that war will end this year, I hope, but nobody knows exactly. We have a sufficient amount of weapons just now to start this offensive. I don’t want to comment on any details; everybody understands that it is complicated. We will continue step by step, but we start from Cherson, and then I am sure it is the end of this war. All our territories will be liberated, including Crimea.”

It was actually one of my questions. Is Crimea also the target?

“Yes. But it is not a target. It is Ukrainian territory. And it was occupied. It is the target of our offensive and it is our territory, without questions. There are our citizens. Now there are more than one million Russians and I hope that after liberating Crimea, these people who came from Russia will return to Russian Federation.”

And what about those who would like to stay? I mean the Russian citizens.

“Ok, their choices are limited. If they want to live in Ukraine it is understandable. But it is necessary to have a policy for them and explain to them, that this is Ukrainian territory and the Ukrainian language is the main language here and our law. The same goes for Donetsk and Luhansk region.”

What is it that Ukraine needs now at most from the EU or the Czech Republic?

“Weapons, weapons, and weapons. It is not only about Ukraine, it is about the European continent. And EU needs to understand that Putin will not stop in Ukraine. The Czech Republic is one of the key supporters of Ukraine, also because you understand what it is to be under soviet occupation.”

If by all hopes will the war end this year, what will be the next step with Russian Federation?

“I think we have a chance to stop their invasion by the end of this year. What about Russia? I think that Russia will dissolve into several parts in the future. Even though the majority of Russian people support Putin. In the last election they voted for him, the majority did.”

Could you possibly imagine starting over and becoming good neighbors with Russia? What would it take to start over?

“I don’t know if we can forgive them. I don’t think so. For people of my age, I think not. For people who are now around 20 – 25-year-old, I think no because our life is divided into before and after occupation. My mum spoke the Russian language her whole life and now she is speaking only the Ukrainian language. First of all, the Russian people need to understand the reason is not only Putin. He is in power for more than 20 years and still majority of Russians are supporting him. They need to understand that the problem is inside Russia, it is not about the politics between Ukraine and Russia and if we want to forgive them, they need to apologize. It is the same example with Germans when Willy Brand apologized in Auschwitz. But I cannot imagine who will be the Russian leader which will apologize in the same way.”

What is the main trend about Ukrainian refugees now?

“Lot of people are coming back now. Depending on their situation and where they can return, if you have no place to return, you have to look for some other place to live. It might take longer for them to return as the Ukrainian government needs to find a way how to reconstruct the country and people’s homes and jobs.”

Sonya Koshkina

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