Russian academic Vitaly Naumkin, the director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that in a February 22, 2022 interview on Russia Today that Russia is prepared to withstand any Western sanctions. He said that Russia has not "transgressed against Ukraine" and that it only recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, but has not annexed them. He added that these sanctions were planned by the West in advance and would have been imposed on Russia regardless of its actions towards Ukraine. In addition, Naumkin said that Russia supports Syria by all means, including military means, and that its relations with other players in the Middle East do not come at the expense of the Syrians. He also said that Syria is free to liberate the Golan Heights.
Vitaly Naumkin: "It seems that there is no [Russian] plan to annex the [Donetsk and Luhansk] republics. In my opinion, the decision is to stop at recognizing their independence. So we will see what will be the reaction of the European Union, during the meeting of the foreign ministers.
"In any case, Russia is capable of withstanding any sanctions. We are ready to live with any additional sanctions. We have become accustomed to these unjust attacks, after the case of Crimea and all the other issues. The truth is that I do not see any additional difficulties due to these planned sanctions. However, the relations between Russia and the West will worsen in the near future.
"These sanctions will be imposed on Russia no matter what. Even if Russia had not recognized the independence of the two republics, these preplanned sanctions would have been imposed on it, one way or the other.
"So Russia is not afraid of these sanctions, but at the same time, these 'massive' and 'unprecedented' sanctions about which the American regime and the U.S. administration spoke, were supposed to be imposed on Russia if it attacked Ukraine, but so far Russia has not transgressed against Ukrainian soil, or against anyone.
"On the contrary, it was the Ukrainian army that attacked Donetsk and Luhansk.
"Russia supports Syria with all its economic and diplomatic means. We should not forget the diplomatic means..."
Naumkin: "It also supports Syria with military means. However, Russia cannot replace Syria in the liberation of [its occupied] lands. Syria is free to liberate these lands. As you know the Golan Heights have been occupied since 1967, and if Syria wanted to liberate these lands, it could have started doing so a long time ago.
"The issue is not an easy one for any country, including Syria itself. Therefore, Russia relies on diplomatic measures. It defends the interests of Syria. Nothing happens in Russia's relations with the other players in the Middle East, at the expense of the Syrians. On the contrary, we support Syria with all our means.
"In addition, we should never forget our own goals - our goals within Russia and regarding our relations with the neighbors and the West. So there are many tough issues that we must not forget."