Interview of the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Cyprus Ruslan Nimchynskyi to Cyprus Daily News

(12 February 2024)

 How do you characterize today`s situation in the war?

 From day one of Russia’s full-scale invasion, this war was about two things: the readiness of Ukraine to fight and the readiness of Ukraine’s partners to support this fight. In the two years that passed, the Ukrainian army showed its ability to inflict enormous damage on the aggressor and even force him to run.

At this stage, it is a different kind of war than most governments and war analysts had anticipated. A close examination unravels the intricacies shaping the dynamics of the war. The Russian invasion has precipitated a seismic shift in the landscape of war, necessitating a reevaluation of conventional warfare doctrines.

Unlike prior military engagements such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq, this war unfolds on a novel battleground characterized by contemporary methods of warfare, including unmanned systems, FPV drones, and high-precision artillery. The deployment of these sophisticated technologies has fundamentally altered the contours of the war.

At the heart of the current war lies the pivotal role of unmanned aerial systems, widely known as drones, which have emerged as a transformative asset in both offensive and defensive strategies. These versatile platforms furnish real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, thereby empowering Ukrainian forces to effectively counter Russian aggression across multiple theaters of operation. Nonetheless, to maintain ascendancy in this pivotal domain, Ukraine needs a substantial influx of unmanned systems, artillery munitions, and long-range missiles.

Despite confronting powerful adversary, Ukraine stands to benefit from its considerable technological and know-how superiority over the aggressor. The Western allies, with their advanced capabilities in domains such as aerospace technology and electronic warfare, hold the key to translating this superiority into tangible battlefield triumphs. By harnessing political resolve and strategic alliances, the international community possesses the capacity to equip Ukraine with the requisite resources to confront and deter Russian belligerence effectively.

Beyond purely military considerations, the safeguarding of civilian populations and critical infrastructure assumes paramount significance in the theater of the ongoing war. The urgent requirement for air and missile defense systems, early warning systems, and electronic warfare capabilities underscores the imperative of international support in bolstering Ukraine’s defensive capabilities. Armed with these indispensable resources, Ukrainian defenders can repel Russian occupation forces and safeguard the lives of their loved ones.

What else the international community should do to fully enforce sanctions on the Kremlin?

In response to ongoing hostilities, the international community must intensify efforts to enforce decisive measures against the Kremlin and hold Russia accountable for its crimes of aggression. Collaborative efforts, such as the sanction coalition comprising 40 nations, represents a united commitment to imposing economic and diplomatic restrictions on the aggressor. By broadening this coalition to encompass additional partners from Asia and Latin America, the efficiency of sanctions can be further bolstered, depriving Russia of vital resources and isolating it on the global stage.

Ukraine and its partners have tried many tools and mechanisms to put an end to Russian aggression: from warnings and UN General Assembly resolutions to legally binding orders of the International Court of Justice. Nevertheless, Russia continues its aggression. To escalate pressure on Moscow and compel a cessation of hostilities, the international community must contemplate the confiscation of frozen Russian assets abroad. This proactive measure not only represents a just and proportionate response to Russian aggression but also serves as a means of bolstering Ukraine’s recovery and defense endeavors. Moreover, the confiscation of these assets aligns with established legal frameworks, such as the 2001 UN Articles of Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, thereby underscoring the principle of accountability in international relations.

The confiscation would be an extraordinary step, fitting extraordinary circumstances (Europe’s bloodiest war of aggression since Adolf Hitler). This war is a direct violation of the 1994 Budapest memorandum under which Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security assurances from the US, the UK, and Russia. Since February 2022, Russia has committed major international crimes in Ukraine, including forced deportation of children, rape, torture, inhumane treatment of prisoners of war, and targeted attacks on civilians. All of this makes a clear and compelling case for the confiscation of Russian assets abroad.

Financially, neither Russia nor its “axis of evil” allies Iran and North Korea have the capacity to undermine the stability of Western democracies and the attractiveness of the West as a safe haven for international reserves. Russia’s threats of retaliation are hollow because the Russian state is already seizing Western assets and has already caused 103 billion USD in damages to Western companies.

Not only do taxes on revenues and revenues from frozen Russian assets need to be confiscated, but the assets themselves as well. This is a legal and fair step to take under international law. A step that will strengthen, not weaken, the principle of the rule of law. This is a step that will increase the credibility of the West and prove that it follows through on its words with decisive, strong actions to stop the aggressor.

Do you have any figures regarding the illegal transfer of children to Russia from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine?

Amidst the turmoil of war, the plight of vulnerable populations, particularly children, demands urgent attention and concerted action from the global community. The illicit transfer of thousands of children to Russia or forcibly to temporarily occupied territories constitutes a grave violation of human rights and humanitarian law.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, about 20,000 children have been deported to the Russian Federation or forcibly transferred to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

About 4,000 of them are orphans and children deprived of parental care. And that is only based on verified data. In reality, the number can be many times higher.

Russian kidnappers indoctrinate the stolen children with their propaganda in an attempt to erase their national identity.

The latest heartbreaking news is the «adoption» of a 7-year-old Ukrainian boy by a member of the Russian military, Viktor Filonov of Pskov, who was stationed in Bucha and is now accused by Ukraine of committing war crimes against civilians. This is the essence of Russian occupation: first leaving thousands of children father- and motherless, and then “adopting” (or, rather, stealing) them, like war bounty.

By amplifying collective international pressure and supporting initiatives such as the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children, the global community can contribute to the safe repatriation and rehabilitation of these innocent victims of war.

What were the reasons for the decision to change the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?

The recent decision to appoint a new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reflects a strategic imperative to upgrade and adapt military leadership in response to evolving exigencies. It is a normal process. Together with the change of the commander-in-chief, the entire security and defense sector team gets rebooted.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, an accomplished combat general, who led the Armed Forces of Ukraine to real victories on the battlefield (near Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson), brings an experience and leadership grip to the position, promising fresh perspectives and strategies for grappling with the realities of protracted warfare. With a concerted focus on overcoming stagnation and formulating pragmatic plans for the future, this appointment heralds a new stage in Ukraine’s defense strategy.

The President of Ukraine invited Valerii Zaluzhnyi to remain in the team and continue to work together to win.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi is a military legend of modern Ukraine. Under his leadership, the Armed Forces passed the most difficult tests during the full-scale invasion of the enemy and achieved brilliant results.

Ukraine held the 51st exchange of prisoners of war. What is the role of international partners in this process?

International collaborations play a pivotal role in facilitating the exchange of prisoners of war and detainees, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the chaos of war. The recent exchange orchestrated with the assistance of the United Arab Emirates underscores the significance of cooperative efforts in securing the release and repatriation of captured servicemen.

By prioritizing the humane treatment and repatriation of all individuals affected by the war, Ukraine reaffirms its commitment to upholding the principles of human dignity and justice.

As Ukraine perseveres in confronting the trials of war with resilience and resolve, the imperative of international solidarity and support assumes heightened significance. Whether by bolstering military capabilities, safeguarding civilian populations, or advancing humanitarian initiatives, the concerted efforts of the global community are pivotal in shaping the outcome of the war. Through steadfast unity in defense of freedom, democracy, and human rights, we can confront aggression, uphold justice, and chart a course towards a more peaceful and secure future.