“Vasha Svoboda” guest: Andriy Veselovskiy, Special Ambassador of the Ukrainian MFA.
Olexandr Lashchenko: Recently the President of France Francois Hollande met with Petro Porohenko. Having congratulated him with the victory at the elections, he invited him to the celebration ceremony of the anniversary of the allied army invasion in Normandy during World War II. The ceremony will take place on June 6th. This ceremony is to be attended by the leaders of many countries, particularly the US President Barack Obama will be present, as well as Queen of England, Elizabeth II.
What do these facts testify to? Of course, the world is not simply supporting Ukraine, which it has been doing throughout the last three months after Maidan’s victory, it will continue to lend significant support, and this support will be able to significantly help Ukraine in its countering Russia?
Of course, what you said, and the recent international contacts made by the newly-elected President, testify to the fact that the world has supported Ukraine without conjuncture, that the world will further support it. And meanwhile all of these meetings, all of these contacts – both those that have been and those that will happen – contain the question: is Ukraine ready for its future, for the challenges that await it ahead?
It seems to me that the invitation to Normandy to that sacred site where the allied army reunited and where the Yalta system began, and later the Helsinki system of international relations, is a symbol of sorts: we want to return to stability, predictability in Europe, which has been constructed for many decades. Ukraine will be a participant of this system of stability and security, Ukraine will be an important player in the circle of similarly important leading countries.
Will Ukraine be a subject or an object of world politics? As the state is economically and militarily anaemic after the former government, when Viktor Yanukovich was President, it lost part of the territory, which has been annexed by Russia, the Crimea, and a de-facto undeclared war against Ukraine is underway.
All of this is correct. And meanwhile Ukraine has never been so in demand in the world, and never has Ukraine had so many hopes invested in it.
Even if we remember the period of 1990-1991, when the USSR was falling apart, when Ukraine was being created, the question was always in parentheses: will it survive, will it endure, will it give up nuclear weapons?
It gave up nuclear arms!
Don’t jump ahead. Will it agree to this, this, and this? Will it refuse accession to security structures? Will it not hasten to remake the internal and foreign policies?
And remember the scenario of 1993. The CIA discovered a scenario of Ukraine’s separation, its distribution and so forth. The scenario was developed not by the CIA, but in the neighbouring country. Remember the attempts to advance on Ukraine, take away Sevastopol and, possibly, the Crimea in 1993. Remember the later statements.
The Isle of Kosa Tuzla.
Yes. “The Crimea is and will be Russian,” said the first President of the Russian Federation standing on the wing of an airplane. All of this has always existed.
But there has never existed such simultaneous, all-reaching understanding in Europe and the world, that Ukraine means a lot, and that Ukraine is a symbol of, possibly, stability and predictability of world security overall. Now this exists. The loan of confidence, the loan, not only the financial one that we see, but also the load of hope which is being given today to Ukraine, is extraordinary. And therefore every step and every action of the newly-elected President, government, which is currently acting quite successfully for three months already, will be thoroughly analysed, thoroughly supported with demands at the same time.
However meanwhile we will have all grounds to count on positive demandingness. Not demandingness as to the vassal, not the demandingness regarding the servant, but the demandigness regarding the participants of a narrow, exclusive, serious and responsible circle. The response is expected from us.
At the beginning of the 1990’s in Ukraine the nuclear potential was third in the world. The Budapest protocol was signed back then, when the US, the UK and Russia guaranteed territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Now what do we have? The territorial integrity has been violated by the same Russian Federation. Ukraine has no nuclear weapons, it cannot so far counter the aggression which is de facto underway – the so-called hoybrid war. So what can give grounds for optimism, that the West will really support Ukraine in the future, possibly, inevitable clash with Russia?
I don’t know if it is inevitable. The story is very unpredictable. Regardless of all efforts of the analysts, Russia is not an endless source of everything, except for propaganda. Possibly. Therefore Russia’s resources and possibilities are also limited. And there are many states in the world which are much more powerful than Russia.
And when you mentioned the nuclear arsenal, imagine that we had retained the nuclear weapons. Would we have thrown a bomb at Rostov three months ago? Or, possibly, threatened Saint Petersburg? We don’t have individual or collective Zhirinovskiys. Therefore the nuclear arsenal is not the point.
The point is that the previous leaders of the country, possibly, even directly destroyed the defence and the security component of our nation. And they have achieved extraordinary success. Just like in stealing from the budget. This is why Ukraine turned out to be unready for the scenario offered by Russia.
I am sure that with the given formation and support of the security complex, how it is done by leading countries of Europe, we would have not only not allowed this aggression, we would have swiftly destroyed the smallest instances of separatism and terrorism inside the country.
Unfortunately, as of today, this has not happened. Now all of this has to be built under conditions of war, the conditions of economical exhaustion, which the Russian Federation is doing directly, built under the conditions of both regional instability and informational imperfection, if not worse. All of this “from under the wheels.”
However I will return to the optimistic. First, there is the understanding of the nation, who will be in charge of this process, and there is an already formed Cabinet of Minister, which is gradually gaining power, there is enthusiasm. I would compare it to what we had in 1991, at the end of 1991. Therefore a national idea has appeared, and mutual national help, or rather, a feeling of a strong shoulder has appeared, I would say.
You are talking about the support of the countries in Europe, America and, essentially, the countries of the entire world. Because 100 votes at the UN General Assembly gained by the efforts of Ukrainian diplomats, I would like to emphasise, is very important, were given to the Ukrainian position as opposed to 10 votes for the Russian Federation’s position. Never has a single country, a permanent member of the Security Council, lost this political competition so badly.
Therefore in the components I have listed, there is a premise for our normal future. I am talking about a good future, it will not be soon, but we will be able to make our way out of this horrible, terrible situation.
Really, there is not a single Western country that would not declare support for Ukraine after the victory of Maidan in Kyiv. But many skeptics remember, drawing parallels between the actions of the current Russian President Putin and the actions of the 1930’s German leader Adolf Hitler, that there are many similarities. They also are reminiscent of another event of the second half of the 1930’s – the so-called Munich Conspiracy.
Could what happened to Czechoslovakia happen to Ukraine again on part of the West?
It seems to me the situation is slightly different. The point is that the Munich Conspiracy was done in a period when there was no definition who was the friend and who – the enemy.
And Joseph Stalin was in the USSR as well.
Yes. Who was friends with Hitler. If at the time the USSR had directly and firmly informed England, France, the USA and so forth that they are Hitler’s enemies, that the USSR was preparing for war against nazism, the situation would have been completely different. But we know that up until 1940 all strategic goods were supplies from the USSR to Germany, they marched together in Brest, and not only in Brest, there was a wide, all-reaching exchange of the most sensitive information regarding how together we would be destroying those “rotten” Western democracies, how we would divide the world, where we will enter – you to India, and whom Pakistan will belong to or something like that. This all happened.
Therefore, when talking about the Munich Conspiracy, let us not forget against whom they conspired. They conspired, seeing two bloodthirsty dictators in the East. History is not conditional and it is unknown what else could have been done, but that the former USSR policy and that of Stalin did not give grounds to hope for the best is a fact.
We have a question from a listener.
Listener: Mr. Ambassador, I would like to remind you of the fact called “land-lease.” It seems to me that a lot of quality arms and military equipment could be taken for usage by land-lease. There are some countries that would give the land-lease now. What do you think, why are such attempts not being made to take arms, equipment?
As far as I understood, our listener means that the West should help us with such weapons.
The position of a land-lease of sorts was recently expressed by the newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko. The proposal is quite smart and intelligent. I don’t exclude that it will be supported. The only thing is that I would not have any special extraordinary hopes for this. Why? First and foremost this has to be transported physically, given to the people and they have to be taught to use it. This is not easy. This is done throughout months. The representatives of the armed forces of Western countries have already been trained. For our soldiers, these would be new things that one needs to know how to use.
And second. The ATO, which is being developed at the moment, has to have (this has also been emphasised by Poroshenko) a swift character. Otherwise it will extend and turn into an endless war. We don’t need an Israeli-Palestine clash number 2 here. Therefore today everything is decided with existing weapons. And most importantly – with the existing military spirit.
By the way, I will give a quote regarding this. Yesterday “Ukrinform” agency cited the newly-elected President Poroshenko in an interview to the American medium The Washington Post. He said that in order to protect the independence of Ukraine the state has to reinforce its army and at this stage Ukraine needs direct military aid from the US.
And he could have ended it with the following. Having won over terrorism and criminal groups of the aggressor on our territory in the nearest future, undoubtedly, for us it is important not only to study these weapons but also start producing them here. Ukraine has always been known as a producer of the most modern weapons. And we are producing some now. From what we could, from what we have already produced.
So the resurrection of the Ukrainian military-production complex is, first and foremost, new employment, new technologies and the protection of our own territory.
Mr. Veselovskiy, you are the special representative of Ukraine in regulating the Transnistria conflict, which has lasted more than 20 years now. There is no light at the end of the tunnel visible there. What is more, the representatives of this “country” have addressed the Russian Federation in the midst of the events in Ukraine: please take us! Don’t you think that in light of what is happening in Lugansk and Donetsk Oblasts, (I would not want this, but this cannot be excluded) “Transnistria-2” would happen in Ukraine?
This is why the ATO is underway, for this not to happen.
You mentioned that this regulation has been underway for more than two decades. This is correct. And we know why it is taking so long, what the reasons are for this.
As to the Transnistria petition to the Russian Federation, unfortunately, this is not the first petition, such petitions have been made before. The referendums for independence have been held and so forth. Luckily, there is the talks format of “5+2,” which prescribes the participation of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the OSCE, as well as observers from the EU and US, where the participants, the sides of these talks in Tiraspol and in Kishinev are trying to find a way out of this situation. This format exists.
In the nearest future, in a week, another round of talks will take place. This testifies to the fact that regardless of the situation in Ukraine, regardless go the Crimea, regardless of the aggression in eastern regions of Ukraine, there is enough common sense, in Transnistria as well with the people who understand that having destabilised the situation there, they will get blood, death and ruin and the destruction of everything…
…among these people, do you name the leaders of Transnistria and the Russian Federation themselves? Because the opinion of the majority of the critics of the current actions of the Kremlin, which think that, on the contrary, Putin is interested in the further destabilisation in Ukraine and Transnistria. It is pointless to hope for some regulation, as for him, the worse it is, the better. Do you agree with this?
Undoubtedly, such intentions may exist. However I will return to what I have said previously, that Moscow does not have endless resources, this barrel, from which weapons, people and money are taken, is not bottomless. There don’t have so many resources, or executors, as much as they would like to have.
Russia has a population of 140 million, and 15 years ago it was 160 million. The smart ones are leaving, we know what the average life expectancy of men in the Russian Federation is. I think there is no country lower in Europe. All of these are facts to internal extreme tension, desolation, which the Kremlin propaganda is trying to beat down.
There are no limits to greed, but there are limits to real possibilities. And I think that this is understood not only in Ukraine, but in Europe, in the US as well, therefore they are warning the leaders in the Kremlin: you may undermine all the resources in Russia, you will lose the Russia you have now, the Russian people will suffer, those that are now stupidly listening to your stories, and big Russia will never resurrect, transform, as once the great Mongolia has failed to do, having conquered half the world.
We remember the end of Adolf Hitler after all these Munich Conspiracies and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pace, what it ended with within literally several years…
…I would not want for it to end this way. I would want, I am not saying that the former situation should be renewed. It will never renew in the relations between Ukraine and Russia. And the song “We Will Never Be Brothers” is frightening, but painfully fair. You know this song. And it is unfortunate that this happened.
Once again these are remnants of the past that is beating the future, the remnants of ‘Sovietism,’ the remnants of the education that is turning adult and knowing and prepared people into Stalin’s ‘grandkids.’ This is what it is.
And in this light, what you said, numerous experts have stated that, Putin has gone almost insane, when at the end of February there was the decision of the Russian Federation Council, the allowance to deploy the army departments in Ukraine, his other actions. But we have seen that in reality Putin is a sober politician, regardless of the attitude to him. He will not build any corridor through Ukraine to Transnistria. And he cannot, the experts say.
He cannot build it.
But regarding the fact that the reaction was horrible, I know that many ambassadors of the Russian Federation in the countries that voted in support of Ukraine at the Security Council either abstained or were recalled. This is a fact.
I would like to say one more thing which we should not forget. Before his inauguration President Poroshenko visited the most important countries of Europe: the UK, Germany, France, Poland. Before his inauguration he established personal contacts with the leaders of this world. Before his inauguration he de-facto stretched out his hand not for peace, but the possibility of renewing dialogue to the Russian Federation. He has done very well.
And he is very well prepared for this role. This is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Just like Yatseniuk, the head of the government. He is also a former Minister of Foreign Affairs. For the first time in history, Ukraine has people that speak English. This is a very important factor. They can speak directly with the entire world, they can communicate their thoughts. This is a complex we have never had before, and this is the complex that will allow us to overcome today’s problems.
We have come out to an optimistic note. And these are not just diplomatic moves, so to speak.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina
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