Editor’s NoteThe global conflict with Russia will end only when the West declares Ukraine one of its own. International support for Ukraine as well as Ukraine’s strength is unprecedented now. Panic and fear that are the true goals of Putin should be avoided, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in a recent interview with Radio Liberty, detailing the ongoing diplomatic efforts and international situation around Ukraine’s resistance to Russian escalation. We publish its translated excerpts.
Among other things, Kuleba also said that the future of Euro-Atlantic security is decided in Ukraine, and the good news is that finally, the awareness of this appeared in the key capitals that actively consult with Kyiv. It will be hard for Ukraine to remain friends with countries who choose their policy towards Ukraine after looking through a Russian prism.
“Ukraine is fully integrated into all processes”
Commenting on the words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Kyiv is now the most popular destination for world diplomacy, Kuleba confirmed that the world is watching very closely what is happening in Ukraine.
“The world is consulting thoroughly with Ukraine. Nothing is happening without us now. We are fully integrated into all processes.”
Kuleba also stressed that multiple unplanned visits of world top-officials to Ukraine last week, including by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly, as well as Ukraine’s consultations with Germany, Poland, and other states, demonstrate that the world is ready to help to Ukraine.
The main topic of all these talks was how each state can help improve the situation. Specific actions, like additional weapons supplies from the UK, the US, and the Baltics follow these discussions.
Kuleba also stressed that there were more agreements of armament supplies to Ukraine from other NATO countries that will become public soon. The potential response of the West to the Russian invasion was also closely discussed in Kyiv, including measures the West would undertake to raise the price of such an invasion for Russia.
“ We have discussed this issue in great detail with the Secretary of State. We had an hour-long meeting in Kyiv. And we have paid attention to many issues, but especially to this one ,” Kuleba noted.
Ukraine should not be viewed through a Russian prism
Kuleba also stressed that countries that consider Ukraine a specially sensitive territory for Russia can’t be called Ukrainian friends.
“Whoever builds their policies towards Ukraine upon the idea that this is a particularly sensitive territory for Russia cannot not be called a friend of Ukraine. A true friend of Ukraine will always view us not through the Russian prism, but as a self-sufficient, important and strong state. And I’m talking about this constantly.”
Kuleba spoke about this with his German and American colleagues:
“ When the West will start building its policies regarding Ukraine not through the lenses of relations with Russia, but through the lenses of Ukraine as a self-sufficient important part of the West, then the situation will change entirely. […] Globally, the conflict with Russia will end only when the West sends Russia a very simple signal: Ukraine is not just a state that we support. It is part of our world, it is one of us, it will never return to you. The same way it was done with Central Europe and with the Baltic States. Therefore, generalizing, these are two fundamental changes that should take place. ”
Unfortunately, there are still countries in Europe that undertake any action related to Ukraine while being on the lookout for Moscow, Kuleba said, calling this “their strategic mistake.” He said Ukraine is frank in discussions with them about this.
Kuleba spoke about possible Russian escalation against Ukraine with his American counterpart Antony Blinken. Source: Espreso TV
Ukrainians should not panic because this helps Russia achieve its goals in Ukraine
Dmytro Kuleba stressed that so far Russia has only moved troops within its territory without any direct aggression or even full combat readiness to attack. At the same time, multiple messages were spread in the media, implying that Russia is about to attack or Ukraine may face a rapid offensive. By creating this panic Putin is already achieving his goals even without war.
It destabilizes Ukraine and its allies, both socially and economically. The Ukrainian hryvnia exchange rate weakens, investors put projects on pause, people begin to stress out. That is why any panic and fear should be discarded, and instead calmly carry on their work to strengthen Ukraine.
“ For several weeks, our society is being pumped up with the idea that everything is terrible. I have been in this information space since October. That is why I want to say: dear Ukrainians, I am not tired, I am systematically working on three things. First, for all of Ukraine’s partners to make it clear to Russia that attacking Ukraine is unacceptable. Second, for economic sanctions to be prepared. And third, for Ukraine to receive as much military aid as possible. This military aid is coming. Therefore, I urge Ukrainians not to panic, not to get tired of anything, but to keep a cool head and calmly carry on in their job of strengthening Ukraine. ”
Ukraine is now stronger than it ever was before
Commenting on Russia’s movement of troops towards Ukraine, Kuleba also said that Ukraine is not facing anything new at present. In the last eight years, Ukrainians have seen several military build-ups and military operations, real fights in Donbas. The only difference is that Ukraine was never as strong as it is now.
“The state of Ukraine has gone through terrible trials and become stronger. Now we are strong, now there is an unprecedented readiness of partners to help us. In 2021, we received the largest amount of defense aid for Ukraine from the United States compared to all previous years, and received supplies from the United Kingdom. We work with other partners to ensure that they also provide us with things that strengthen our defense capabilities. The army is doing its job. Diplomats do their job. Nobody is panicking.”
Ukraine does not request Germany to supply weapons, only to lift its ban so that others can supply them
Kuleba also hopes that negotiations should persuade Germany to change its position regarding NATO supplies of armament to Ukraine. As was reported earlier, Germany vetoed Ukraine’s purchase of anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems through a NATO procurement agency. UK planes also had to avoid German air space while bringing military aid to Ukraine on 19-21 January 2022.
The Netherlands have recently changed their position in favor of Ukraine, after multiple talks were held and Ukraine’s position was extensively explained. Kuleba said he also raised this issue in his recent talks with German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock.
Kuleba also said that Ukraine is not requesting Germany to supply any weapons. The only request is that Germany lifts its ban on armament supplies so that Ukraine can receive weapons from other NATO countries. As was reported, Estonia was greenlighted to supply U.S. made weapons to Ukraine but was refused to supply German made ones.
“ For us, the situation with Germany is important first of all politically, to remove the block. We know where to take weapons for your protection. And we take it there. And we will take it. I just can’t disclose all the details right now. ”
Ukrainians see no contradiction between Europeanness and national identity
Kuleba also highlighted that while in contemporary Europe, Europeanness is highlighted more than the identity of separate nations, in Ukraine the situation is different.
The words “nation,” “patriotism” have a different meaning in Ukraine, given the country’s history of a centuries-long fight for national freedom and independent statehood. This process is still not fully complete on the mental map of Europeans.
“We have now initiated an archeological study in Germany near Bremen, where we found remnants of Ukrainian captives from the Soviet Army who were killed there. We are returning these remains to their families. This is a shocking and very human story. But the cemetery where we found the remnants is still called Russian, a Russian cemetery. And this is not only Germany’s problem. It is the same in some other countries, so we must talk about it. This goes slowly, it takes time, but I’m absolutely convinced that we must return Ukraine into the wider historical context. As a self-sufficient subject, not as a part of Russia.”
Kuleba said he tried to persuade his German counterpart that what she says is Germany’s “historical responsibility” is responsibility towards Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, but not contemporary Russia.
No plans for any Ukrainian attack on Donbas, despite rumors spread by Russia
Ukraine is dedicated to a solely diplomatic way of ending the eight-year-long war, Kuleba stressed, refuting the narrative promoted in Russia that Ukraine allegedly plans an offensive operation on Donbas. He said:
“I will officially confirm that Ukraine is not planning any offensive operations in Donbas, Russia or anywhere else. We are now committed to a fundamentally diplomatic settlement. Yet, Russia will never again occupy Ukraine suddenly at the moment of its greatest weakness, as it was in 2014. Ukraine will be strong. We have become stronger internally, and our partners will help us become even stronger. And Russia will never have a weak Ukraine again, and we will never allow it to do what it has done to us in the past.”
“Possible recognition of LNR and DNR by the Russian Federation will become Russia’s obvious and full exit from Minsk arrangements.”
That is what Kuleba answered when asked about a recent initiative put forward on 19 January 2022 by Russian MPs from the Communist party. They appealed to the President of Russia to officially recognize the so-called DNR and LNR Russian puppet republics in occupied Donbas. And the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said that there is a need “to ensure the safety of Russian citizens and their compatriots” in L/DNR. However, as Kuleba says, this move would mean Russia officially discards Minsk accords that it signed with Ukraine in 2015 but still hasn’t fulfilled.
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