The approach to Russia must be strong and smart

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba commented on the security situation along the state border with Russia and in the occupied territories of Ukraine in the Crimea and Donbas and steps to deter the aggressor.

The Russian Federation continues to build up its capacities to conduct new military operations against Ukraine. As of today, over 100,ooo Russian troops have been deployed along the border with Ukraine, in occupied Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. This is a formidable force.

At the same time, according to our analysis and analysis by our partners, the decision to go ahead with a new military operation has not been taken yet. If President Putin decides to do so, the situation will be evolving in the blink of an eye. We need to remain vigilant and be ready for that.

Since 2014, the government of Ukraine has taken unprecedented measures to strengthen the Ukrainian army which stands ready now to fight back any possible attacks from Russia. We are also working closely with the international partners to receive additional amounts of advanced defensive weapons, and other types of support, including intelligence sharing. We are grateful to those countries, which have already provided their assistance.

For example, the US has recently completed the dispatch of the latest military support package that was agreed upon following the negotiations between President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President Joe Biden. Our position is that the transfer of foreign defensive equipment to Ukraine should not be conditioned to the Russian behavior, but rather should remain a consistent policy aimed at strengthening our country’s capabilities to defend itself. The best way to make sure Russia does not attack Ukraine in the future, is to provide our country with more military support now.

The international community must not allow a new wave of Russian aggression to happen on Ukrainian soil. For that reason, Ukraine has been actively working with the US, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other partners to set up and implement a severe sanctions package that will help to deter Russia. The package could include restrictions on trade, investments, sovereign debts, banking activities, as well as disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT payment system. Other sanctions are also being considered.

Russia continues to undermine the energy security of Ukraine and of the European Union, including through weaponizing the Nord Stream 2. Moscow is skyrocketing gas prices on the European markets to get the pipeline сertified and operational. In fact, the Nord Stream 2 has neither commercial, nor moral grounds. It is a geopolitical project of Russia that goes against the basic principles of the EU energy policy. Ukraine advocates that the EU Third Energy Package be applied in its letter and spirit to the Nord Stream 2. 

If the international community allows Russia to further undermine and destabilize the situation in Ukraine, that will have severe strategic consequences going beyond Ukraine and the rest of Europe. The approach to Russia must be strong and smart. The appeasement and making concessions will not work, but invite instead new demands and new ‘red lines’ from the Russian Federation. We also cannot accept arguments that putting on hold Ukraine’s integration to NATO will help to de-escalate and make Russia’s foreign policy more constructive and peaceful. President Putin did not hesitate to occupy Crimea and launch a hybrid war in Donbas in 2014 when Ukraine was officially a non-aligned state. The neutrality did not help the Republic of Moldova to prevent the Transnistrian region from falling under the control of Russian guns either.

The path of Ukraine to the EU and NATO must not be seen by our partners through the lenses of relationship with Russia. It must be based on Ukraine’s political, economic and military merits. 

Ukraine is seeking peace, justice and security not only for itself, but also for the entire Europe.