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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: “We have no other choice but to win this war, no matter what the cost”

Latest NewsMinister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: "We have no other choice but to win this war, no matter what the cost"

This was stated in an interview by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba. [cedida a EL PAÍS en el marco de la alianza de medios europeos LENA] his astonishment that the same politicians who were humiliated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, are saying that Russia cannot be humiliated. Kuleba accuses Germany of clumsiness in supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Ask. The war between Russia and Ukraine lasts almost two and a half months. You and your President Volodymyr Zelensky seem convinced that your country can win the war. What makes them so optimistic?

Answer. We see that we are able to fight and win. We also see that arms deliveries are going smoothly. To win, we need three elements: Ukraine’s resilience, character, and fighting capacity; supply of necessary weapons and sanctions against Russia. If all three factors converge, we will win this war.

P. What would victory look like? President Zelensky is now even talking about taking back regions that Russia conquered in 2014.

R. In war, everything can change in one day.

P. Because this is a dynamic situation.

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R. Yes. And the conditions for negotiations determine the battlefield, and not vice versa. Now we feel more confident in the fight, so our negotiating position has become tougher. If the situation on the battlefield changed, Russia would be in a better position.

P. In other words, Ukraine’s success on the battlefield determines its negotiating position.

R. Yes, but the problem is that Russia is not ready to make the negotiations real and substantive. And we see an offensive in the Donbass and shelling in the Kherson region, or endless rocket attacks throughout the country. At the moment, it does not matter where in Ukraine you sleep. Even if you sleep 1000 kilometers from the front, there is no guarantee that you will wake up alive the next day, because if a missile hits your city, anyone can become a target. It is clear that the Russians do not want to negotiate and prefer war. We, on the other hand, are ready to negotiate, but what we are not ready to do is accept Russian ultimatums. If they force us to go to war, we will respond.

P. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the war could go on for months or even years. Will the Ukrainian army and the people and the country’s economy be able to hold out for so long?

R. The most common question before a war is how long Ukraine can hold out against Russia. Some gave us 48 hours, others 72. Now the question is how many weeks or how many months can we last. It is good that now we are trusted more than before the war, but we do not ask ourselves this question. Because as a nation and as a sovereign country, we have no choice but to win this war, no matter what the cost. Its loss would mean the end of the existence of Ukraine. If someone thinks that Putin will take pity on us, they are very mistaken. Putin leaves us no choice but to fight for our existence. Therefore, I would put the question differently: not how long will we hold out, but how much will the continuation of the struggle cost. In terms of human lives, we are devastated, we suffer from war crimes, atrocities and casualties on the front lines, but as a country we are ready to take on this deadly challenge because the stakes are high.

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P. And what is the economic situation like?

R. The war has done more damage to our economy than the Russian sanctions. The sanctions are important and effective, but they will not stop the Russian war machine as long as Europe continues to buy oil and gas from Russia.

P. In fact, Russia’s energy export earnings have increased due to higher prices.

R. That’s the question. The Russian budget has a surplus thanks to gas and oil. It is true that there are huge problems in other sectors. This applies to the retail sector and the arms industry. And although the Russian economy will be destroyed in the long term, in the short term it is in a better position than ours. That is why we ask our friends and partners to help us financially and allow us to continue the fight.

P. Why do you think Germany was so reluctant to hand over its weapons for several months?

R. I think you need to go back to the time before the war, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz made commendable efforts to prevent it. Scholz called President Putin several times, and Putin assured him and President Macron, among other things, that he was not going to attack Ukraine. And when the attack happened, the chancellor and other leaders were shocked that Putin had lied to them. When Germany was confronted with such a blatant lie, with political betrayal, there was a radical change of position. The Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately announced a 180-degree turn on the issue of armaments and a new direction in relation to Russia. It was a fair and very welcome change, so I cannot complain that Germany is not able to take bold and necessary measures because it has shown that it can.

P. When it came to sanctions, at first Germany also acted as a brake.

R. At first, Germany resisted more than others. However, now I see a clearly different attitude. It plays a strong, even leading role in the oil embargo. If Germany wants, she can find solutions and take the lead. On the other hand, when it comes to weapons, we are still in the awkward decision phase.

P. Do you expect Germany to also support Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union?

R. Germany must also take the lead. And I would like to understand why we are not making progress in this regard. It’s not just about providing us with weapons. It is also about giving the people of Ukraine hope that they are fighting not only for our own country and our right to exist as a nation, but also for a better future in which Ukraine is part of the EU. This is not about immediate accession, but about obtaining the status of a candidate, which legally fixes Ukraine on the path of European integration.

P. Let words follow deeds.

R. I.e. Candidate status is just the beginning of a long process. We defend the European way of life and values ​​in Ukraine because we want our country to be built on these values. We welcome kind words, but it would be nice if the EU also gave us a place in its political space. The only decision Ukraine can make is to grant us candidate status. We don’t want more half-hearted solutions. This war is the result of half-hearted actions and decisions taken over the past few years by all parties, including us.

P. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin redefined the goals of Western military aid. He said that it was about inflicting such damage on the Russian army that it would not be able to start a new war like the one in Ukraine for a long time. Is this a realistic goal?

R. Why not? The Russian war machine must be stopped. We, Ukrainians, put in the most effort because we sacrifice our lives and destroy equipment on our land. Other countries can help us by supplying weapons and imposing sanctions to prevent the Russian military industry from replacing destroyed heavy weapons with new ones of their own.

P. How does this fit in with French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that Russia must not be humiliated?

R. One of the reasons for this war was that everyone was always trying to offer Putin a solution that would allow him to save face. When Putin launched the attack, he sent a clear message: I don’t need decisions to save face. I am willing to cross borders, commit war crimes in order to achieve my political goals. When I hear again that solutions must be found that preserve Putin’s dignity, I am perplexed. I ask these people what else needs to happen so that they understand that Putin does not need any of this, that he will not respect them if they offer it to him. Putin blatantly lied to Macron, saying he was not going to attack Ukraine. Russia humiliated everyone who tried to prevent the war. When the same people again say that we should not humiliate Russia, I cannot understand it.

P. According to some reports, more than a million Ukrainians have been deported to Russia, including 200,000 children. What does Russia want from him?

R. This is one of the most difficult topics for me to talk about. What Russia is doing is a war crime because, in essence, it is a forced deportation. At first it was propaganda to show that people were fleeing from what in Russia they call the “Kyiv regime”. They use people. Another reason I don’t have proof yet, but dare to speculate, is that Russia, which is huge, lacks human capital. I say this because we see that many Ukrainians are being transferred to remote areas of the country and forced to settle there. Russia is trying to solve the problem of lack of human capital through forced deportations.

P. President Zelensky, your defense minister and you have been under tremendous pressure these months to save your country from destruction. No European politician has had to go through such an experience since World War II. How do you deal with pressure?

R. Every night I smoke a cigar. This is my way of meditation. This helps me a lot. Another way to continue is a puppy from Mariupol whom I adopted. When I leave the office, I play with him. Both people and animals suffer in war. And there is a saying that if one human life is saved, the whole world will be saved. This gives me hope. The third element that allows me to move forward is the smooth work of the government. When the president stayed in Kyiv during his darkest hours despite receiving death threats, he taught us what real courage is. This brought us together as a team: the president, his chief of staff, the prime minister, the speaker of parliament. We support each other to keep trying everything. When I see the task that the president is taking on, my fatigue is the least. I recharge my batteries and move on

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Source: elpais.com

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