Putin’s war an ‘aggression against peaceful nations’


Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN and Ambassador of Ukraine to TT (non-resident) in an interview at the European Union Delegation to TT, Queen's Park East, Port of Spain .  - SUREASH CHOLAI
Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN and Ambassador of Ukraine to TT (non-resident) in an interview at the European Union Delegation to TT, Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain . – SUREASH CHOLAI

As Trinidad and Tobago celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence, the Ukrainian people were going through the sixth month of their independence and were under attack. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN and Ambassador of Ukraine to TT (non-resident), said that the scale of destruction in Ukraine during this war exceeded the level of World War II . Then 20,000 citizens of Mariupol, Ukraine were killed, but by the end of spring 2022, more than 30,000 had been killed there. In addition, other cities have been or are being destroyed.

In an interview with Sunday Newsday at the European Union Delegation to TT, Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain, Kyslytsya congratulated TT on the 60th anniversary of its independence.

“Independence means a lot to your country as much as it does to my country. Ukraine has been struggling for independence for centuries. We were incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 17th century, and until this century the nation Ukrainian society constantly aspired to become independent.

“The tragic irony is that this year, on Independence Day, August 24, we also marked exactly six months of large-scale aggression and invasion of Ukraine.”

Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.

He said Russia’s war on Ukraine actually started in February 2017, when Russia moved into Crimea, which was internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, tried to illegally annex it. and sparked war in eastern Ukraine.

He said the international reaction to the war in 2022 was very different from the reaction in 2014.

In 2014, 100 nations supported the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On March 2, 2022, 148 countries voted in favor of the resolution condemning Russian aggression, while Syria, Belarus, North Korea and Eritrea supported Russia.

Children play jumping over destroyed Russian military vehicles on display in central Kyiv, Ukraine on Saturday. -AP Photo

“This aggression is seen as an aggression against the entire peaceful, democratic and law-abiding community. Because it is the most flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter since the end of World War II and, in fact, since the creation of the UN.

Kyslytsya expressed gratitude that the TT leadership chose to uphold the UN Charter and support Ukraine, saying it should be proud to be a member of the international community. He said TT should not underestimate the importance of his vote because, even though it was a small nation, size did not matter in the United Nations General Assembly . Each country had a vote that counted.

“When you vote for the defense of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles and purposes, you are voting for the environment, on a global scale, which will enable you and all other countries to face up to other challenges. Because it is a fact that the current war diverts so much effort and resources – financial and human – from solving other outstanding problems on a global scale.

He used climate change, the energy crisis and food shortages as examples. He pointed out that small countries, especially island nations, contribute minimally to climate change, but are among the most affected.

He said development depends on the collective action of those who contribute the most to climate change. But instead of focusing on plans to combat it, some countries were facing food shortages or trying to maintain energy supplies, putting climate change on the back burner.

Some countries have gone back to coal mining and using coal for energy, when coal emits the most carbon dioxide per unit of energy and is the main source of global temperature rise contributing to climate change.

Energy shortages have also increased the cost of production and therefore import costs.

Global energy problems were exacerbated when gas exports from Russia – the largest exporter of oil and natural gas – were cut in a bid to limit its ability to finance the war in Ukraine.

In addition, the two countries exported about 24% of the world’s wheat, so between the war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia, the supply decreased, which led to an increase in food prices in the world. world.

All of this has affected every citizen of TT, from business to groceries.

EU and NATO membership

Kyslytsya said more than 160 countries, including Ukraine, cannot defend themselves.

He said that the global solution, the UN, did not prevent the war because the Russian Federation, along with China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, is a permanent member of the Council of UN security, composed of 15 members. And the permanent members could veto, which Russia did with respect to Ukraine.

A priest blesses coffins with unidentified civilians who died in the territory of the Bucha community during the Russian occupation period in February-March 2022, during a funeral in Bucha, near Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday . -AP Photo

Ukraine therefore had to turn to a regional solution, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It also applied for European Union (EU) membership shortly after being invaded by Russia, and the European Council granted it candidate status in June.

Kyslytsya dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motives for invading his country.

He said that before the war, Putin wanted to prevent the expansion of NATO. But its invasion led Finland and Sweden, known over the years for their neutrality in international armed conflicts, to formally apply for NATO membership.

Also, Putin said he didn’t want to have “more NATO” on Russia’s borders, but Ukraine’s borders were shared by other NATO countries. If Russia took control of the country, it would be the exact opposite.

“No matter the grievances, launching a full-scale war is not the answer. Ukraine should therefore not be blamed for a war solution. It was Russia who launched this unjustified and unprovoked war.

He added that Russia could offer nothing to Ukraine because it had “no rule of law”, no new technologies and was “economically backward”.

As an example, he said that Russia’s contribution to the regular UN budget was less than 2% compared to that of the United States, which was capped at 22%. Among other things, budget contributions were based on each country’s gross national income, indicating that Russia was not as financially well off as it claims.

“The Russian Federation, which owns this incredibly large territory, was telling all of us, ‘You should be afraid of us because we have the second most powerful army’, which turned out to be a lie. They contribute to the budget of the whole organization at less than two percent and they always try to dictate to all of us how we should live.

Kyslytsya said credible evidence of Putin’s war crimes and crimes against humanity was being collected by countries and organizations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). He said the ICC had a team to collect the data and preserve evidence of the war, and that satellite imagery meant Putin could not hide his actions.

“What is happening today is the result of three decades of complacency and turning a blind eye to what Russia was doing. Because every time Russia did something, we, including Ukraine, expressed our concern. and then go back to business as usual, so we got Putin to the point where he confidently believed that whatever he did, we would be unhappy first, and then we would continue to operate as usual.

“That’s why one of the most important things is the issue of accountability and the fight against impunity.”

He noted that the Accountability Group of Friends (GoF), consisting of around 50 countries, was formed to ensure accountability for international crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. And fighting impunity was important for everyone. because there were many conflicts in the world in which thousands of people were killed.

Once the war is over, Kyslytsya hopes to continue discussions with TT on “mutually complementary” topics.

He said he first met Foreign and Caricom Minister Dr Amery Browne in October 2021 and was impressed with his “clarity of thought” and common sense approach.

“Then we had a whole list of things that, despite our geographical distance from each other, we could have developed.”

This included the agricultural sector, IT and digitization. Unfortunately, due to the invasion, these questions were suspended until the end of the war. Then, he said, the needs and interests of the Ukrainian people could be identified and the two countries could see what TT could bring.

He added that he regretted that Ukraine could not afford a permanent presence in TT and hoped that TT could be elected to the United Nations General Assembly in the future.

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