Russia`s military build-up: active diplomatic efforts and growing military support to Ukraine

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba commented on the current developments on the border with Russia. 

We have no doubts that our partners are committed to supporting Ukraine as Russia continues its military build-up along the border, spreads massive disinformation, launches cyber-attacks, and undermines the situation in Ukraine from within. Our allies are proving this not only with words but also with deeds, including by providing Ukraine with more military support and coordinating their diplomatic efforts.     

The international community’s response to Russian aggression against Ukraine should be without compromise. Russian aggression is real. It has gone on since 2014. It continues to claim people’s lives, and there is a real possibility that Russia may use force yet again. Therefore, it is critical to react in a resolute and responsible manner, irrespective of the scale of Russia’s possible invasion. It is worth remembering in this context that Russia has demonstrated many times before that it can attack Ukraine under cover, without acknowledging its regular troops or proxies. 

Russian aggression has not only the military but also economic and financial dimensions. Russia is investing enormous efforts to undermine Ukraine’s economic and financial stability by sowing panic by threatening the Ukrainian society and businesses that a new military operation is inevitable. It is exploiting security concerns raised by other countries and trying to discredit the government of Ukraine’s efforts aimed at ensuring economic stability. Moscow is trying to downplay the reforms that have succeeded in Ukraine. However, if we review the facts, Ukraine ended the year 2021 with the best economic indicators since 2012. We are on a good track when it comes to the economy and we should not allow Russia to destroy our economic stability.

While our partners are deliberating on comprehensive countermeasures, the Russian leadership must not be led to believe that the West will hesitate to impose the toughest sanctions. Active diplomacy and strong political messaging should continue until Moscow ceases its aggressive plans. These should be followed by new economic sanctions and strengthening Ukraine’s defensive capabilities. We call on our partners to remain united in their commitment to ensuring the deterrence measures are strong and effective. 

  In this context, the US’s decision to provide Ukraine with a new package of military support worth USD 200-million that will help strengthen our capability to defend ourselves is very timely. This will serve as a sign of transatlantic unity.

There is also another layer, which is perhaps mentioned not so often but remains crucial, especially for Europe – cutting off the Russian propaganda and disinformation channels intended to poison the public perception of Russia’s aggressive behavior and cover up its military preparation from the watchful eye of European institutions and civil society.

Refusal to launch the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be an integral part of the broad deterrence package against Russia and could prove a potentially effective factor in the possible solution for Russia-Ukraine armed conflict. The West, not Russia, should play the Nord Stream 2 card, but this requires firm and consistent action. We categorically reject the opinion that Nord Stream 2 is purely a business-oriented solution. Operation of the pipeline will give Russia more opportunities to launch a new military attack against Ukraine. Even more importantly, at this critical juncture Russia should be deprived of the economic and financial opportunity to strengthen its ability to wage war against Ukraine and undermine Europe.

Despite Russia beefing up its troops on Ukraine’s borders, there are no indicators suggesting that the Kremlin has already decided to attack. This being the case, we should be heavily focusing on diplomacy. The longer diplomats talk, the better. 

Diplomatic engagement with Russia should continue on various tracks. Ukraine, France and Germany are working hard to revive meaningful dialogue within the Normandy Format. We are ready for discussions with Russia either in N4 or bilaterally, including at the presidential level, on all the issues pertaining to peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Ukraine’s essential position with regard to any Russia contacts remains unchanged: there must be no arrangements on Ukraine without Ukraine.

We must remember that Russian aggression is not a mere Ukraine-Russia problem: it is rather a problem for the whole European and Euro-Atlantic security system. If the Kremlin’s plot for Ukraine is allowed to succeed, its appetite will grow further, and the West is likely to face even more problems with Russia. Therefore it is crucially important to concentrate all efforts and energy towards deterring Russia, ensuring de-occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas, and  returning Moscow to the fold of international law. This is the best way to strengthen European and Euro-Atlantic security.