Borys Tarasyuk: No one in NATO is dreaming about fighting with Russians for Ukraine
Interview about war with Russia, the Minsk agreements, the fear of calling ATO (anti-terrorist operation) a war, about the Ukrainian-Polish relations, the Kremlin’s crazy plans, and the fear of NATO.
Well-known Ukrainian politician and diplomat, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, MP Borys Tarasyuk shares his opion with Andriy Bolkun, leopolis news.
Boris Ivanovich, when a war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany is taking place, the Berlin-Moscow train runs regularly between the capitals of the enemy powers. This an analogy with the current situation in the war with Russia. Is the train Kiev – Moscow normal, in your opinion?
I will continue this line of absurdity to you. There is a war, and trade with Russia increases by 37%. Is that normal? There is a war, and some enterprises of the military-industrial complex continue to cooperate with Russian enterprises. Of course, this is abnormal. There is a war, and we have branches of Russian banks. The question is very serious, there is no complete state policy regarding the aggressor.
Until recently, there was a long-lasting cooperation in the field of missile technology, aircraft engineering. This is totally unacceptable in terms of the war that Russia has set against Ukraine. I am even more surprised when it people say that the introduction of the visa regime with Russia will affect the interests of about 4 million Ukrainians who left for Russia, in particular for earnings. Tell me what their interests Ukraine should take into account in war with the aggressor? Every citizen here must make a choice and realize that he is a part of this state and nation, must make a contribution and not pull from Ukraine and earn money for another state, but must determine where it should be during the war. Many questions brought the war into our lives and our realities.
When will we hear true information about the causes of this war, and how is it really going? Why Russia is still not recognized as an aggressor, why diplomatic relations are still not broken?
An attempt was made to break diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opposed it. Personally in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, I supported the proposal of a number of deputies about the dissolution of diplomatic relations, but the Foreign Ministry has denied.
I will start with the fact that there was Russian aggression. As a result of Russian aggression, a part of our territory – Crimea – was occupied without a single shot. Someone should be responsible for the fact that those troops who were on the territory of Ukraine in the Crimea did not resist? I think that, obviously, over time, the responsibility of specific individuals for that will be established. Next – the war with an aggressor continues on our territory. Someone called this war a war? And this so-called ATO continues.
This leads to legal problems with the use of the army.
It is precisely because the war was not called a war. And, of course, it finally led the President to resort to a law on so-called reintegration. This is a conventional name. This bill accurately defines the occupied territory, the Russian occupation power, all of which are the right things. But, in addition, it contains things that deputies cannot agree with. For example, it’s connected to the so-called Minsk agreements. But they are a piece of paper that has no legal effect. However, the authorities are trying to take responsibility and impose on the deputies the legalization of the Minsk agreements.
In general, the legal aspect of resolving war with Russia has some flaws. It’s been almost four years since the beginning of the war, and only now are we beginning to talk about settling in a legal way this situation.
We are actually toothless. There are fighting, and war must be war. Other countries are conducting defense special operations in foreign territories: we have an example of Israel, Turkey, and other European countries. Why Ukraine cannot conduct military operations on its own territory?! An absurd thing!
Obviously, it can do that. From time to time there are military actions. But the leadership of the state announced that the military solution to the problem is inadmissible, respectively, the military does not receive a command. This is done under the guise of preventing the provocation of further aggression from Russia. We have already heard that when it was necessary to give a response to the “green men”, but no one from Kiev did not let the team do it. As a result, Crimea has lost. Our response is the deterrence of the aggressor by military means. The armed forces of Ukraine are already so strong that they can restrain the aggressor. And what about the international community? Does she do anything other than expressing solidarity with Ukraine? So far, there are discussions about whether to provide Ukraine with defense weapons or not.
Why is it defensive, not lethal?
Defensive by the term and is lethal. The weapon is the one that causes death, but it should be about defensive. Because the lethal weapon seems to be for an attack on someone, as if we are trying to sacrifice someone. We need a defensive weapon. Point. Defensive weapon is the very voluminous and wide concept. These are not only Javelin anti-tank missiles, but also many other types of weapons. Until now, we did not provide such weapons. The decisions are made in Washington, and any NATO member state will dare to go beyond that limit.
Ukraine is a modest coin in some big world game?
This is not quite so. I will say figuratively: the Kremlin produces crazy scenarios that include aggression, subversive actions, provocations, information wars, and so on. And the whole world, including Washington, Berlin and Paris, are only players leading their roles in this scenario of the Kremlin. This situation lasted until the summer of last year, when during the Warsaw Summit of NATO decisive, correct, in my opinion, steps were taken to restrain the aggressor. As a result of these decisions, units of NATO member states in the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania are deployed. And this is what was to be done right away, and not waiting for Russia to recover. In addition, let us recall the Budapest Memorandum. It contained commitments from the United States, Britain, and Russia to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and state borders for the abandonment of nuclear weapons. Later, France and China joined him. We will put Russia aside, and the United States and Great Britain will fulfill their commitments to Ukraine? No, they are not fulfilled. The question is that in this way international obligations and norms of conduct in the international community are discredited.
Not the first time, the strongest of this world are demonstrating this and do not fulfill their obligations.
What does “not the first time” mean? As for Ukraine – for the first time.
What kind of punishment exists for such actions? In addition to reputation, image loss.
Some cynically declare that “we were not given you legally binding guarantees.” In English, these guarantees sound like “assurance”. Although in Ukrainian, Russian and French – as a guarantee. That is, there are different interpretations. As a person who participated in the development of this document, I perfectly remember this discussion. It was the United States that insisted on the term “assurance”. Then we demanded to write a “warranty”. And in the end, it remains in the text of the Ukrainian, Russian and French – “guarantees”.
Or maybe in this situation the idea of creating the Baltic-Black Sea Union in contrast to Western Europe and Russia has some meaning?
It’s a shame to state the next anti-Ukrainian action by the current Polish authorities, which recently initiated the holding of this Forum without the Ukraine. Ukraine was not invited, although Ukraine has always been a member of the Baltic-Black Sea security belt. After the victory of the Orange Revolution, we initiated (and this initiative was implemented) the unification of the democratic countries of the three seas: the Baltic, Black and Caspian. It was called Commonwealth of Democratic Choice. Then there was a constituent conference of heads of states and governments in Kyiv, then there was a meeting in Tbilisi, and then in Vilnius. But over time, this initiative has been quenched through domestic political hardships in Ukraine and the loss of power by democratic forces. The idea of the Baltic-Black Sea Commonwealth was relevant in the 20th century, when it was initiated by Marshal Pilsudski. Ukraine was not a player in the international situation then. Now Poles initiated it again. To the Poles, we put forward an idea that was implemented in the Commonwealth of the Democratic Choice. I believe that now there is no prospect in this association, as these countries are members of the European Union and are or will be members of NATO. I do not think that they are ready to give up membership in European institutions in favor of illusory participation in the Baltic-Black Sea Initiative. Therefore, I do not consider this proposition to be promising.
You were the chairman of the inter-parliamentary group of friendship Ukraine-Poland in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Today, we are witnessing further anti-Ukrainian exacerbations among our neighbors, but the understanding between our peoples is vital for both Ukrainians and Poles.
It must be. Common sense should push the power of both Ukraine and Poland to unite, to cooperate. Unfortunately, the current Polish authorities have embarked on an escalation of relations and chauvinistic policy towards Ukraine. This was manifested in the adoption of two resolutions of the Sejm and the Senate. When these anti-Ukrainian decisions were made, the only way to protest was, on my part, to resign. And I do not regret what I did. In the end, I have a great history of my own contribution to the Ukrainian-Polish understanding, and I hope that both countries will return to this period. The previous Polish authorities more valued the attitude of Ukrainians towards Poland. I was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine twice and did both the first two visits not to Moscow or Washington, but to Warsaw. And this gave the Poles a clear idea of who the priority was for us. Unfortunately, they did not understand that. I mean the current authorities.
Most analysts say that it was inspired by Russian agents in Warsaw, as well as the short-sightedness and ambition of the current government of the Republic of Poland. Always, when we were chubby, Russia won.
If you ask the question, to whom it may be profitable, then, definitely, neither the Poles, nor the Ukrainians, but Russia. The Moscow hand is there through puppets in Poland. I hope that during this period of Polish history, the responsible political forces will come to power in Poland.
You are now the chairman of the Ukraine-Turkey parliamentary friendship group. In recent years, relations between our countries have reached a serious positive level.
This is not my credit.
By the way, can partnership with Turkey be more interesting to us, as opposed to the same Europe.
Objectively, Turkey is a regional leader, a powerful Black Sea country. We have an interest in developing relations with Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO, but its current policy raises many questions. Though Ukraine, despite all this, must maintain a constructive relationship with this country. We have an extremely high potential of the two countries. The fact that the occupation Russian authorities conveyed two convicts in Crimea to Turkey, two Crimean Tatars leaders, and it transferred them to Ukraine, shows that the potential of Turkey as a country that can help Ukraine is not exhausted. And we must work together for the sake of the future.
Our country is widely perceived abroad by the active work of embassies, and in many countries there are no ambassadors for many years. Why so? Does your committee consider ambassador candidates before appointment?
An interesting question. The Committee on Foreign Affairs, especially the Parliament of this convocation, asks the President of Ukraine and the executive authorities to agree that the committee should regain the right to parliamentary control over the activities of the diplomatic service, not even through consent to the appointment, but the usual hearing of candidates for the heads of diplomatic missions of Ukraine abroad. Unfortunately, I see the reluctance of the head of state to reach the balance of branches of power and the division of powers. Take a look at the practice of the United States. The Senate Committee not only hears, but also makes decisions. And in us, the President refuses to even hear. I think this is wrong. I hope that the parliament will not allow such a violation of the powers of parliamentarians.
Why the appointment of ambassadors is delayed?
As a two-time foreign minister during two presidents and five governments, I can say from my practice that they are often delayed by the decision-makers. And who decides?
Therefore, the procedures for filling the embassy vacancies abroad are delayed. Was it like that before? Yes, it was for a variety of reasons. It is not easy to pick up a particular person for the post of ambassador: many want, and a candidate to pick up is very difficult. For those who have never been in diplomacy, they do not care if they know the language of their country of residence, they do not know, but the position itself attracts them. However, this is the decision of the President, this is the so-called political appointment. They exist in any country. Of course, as a professional diplomat, as a minister, I was interested in the fact that those people who speak the language of the host country were embassy positions. There are objective and subjective factors, but in this situation the latter prevail. That is, the President’s unpreparedness to appoint one or another professional.
Our neighbors were concerned about the new law on education, talking about the language problems of national minorities. Are these discussions artificial?
The question is absolutely politicized. The Ukrainian side is accused groundlessly. One has to look at what is happening, what is the legislative basis. I have carefully reviewed all existing bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Poland, Hungary, Romania on the protection of the rights of national minorities. All documents refer to the obligations of both parties.
We have come to the conclusion that for 26 years of independence, whole generations of Ukrainian citizens who do not speak the state language grow up. The state is guilty of ignoring this problem, and must correct this situation. In order for a citizen of Ukraine of any nationality, whether Romanian, Polish or non-Hungarian, had the opportunity to study their language, culture, but at the same time could have an adequate level of knowledge of the state language.
In this regard, I want to point out that we must show toughtness against those who demand the impossible from us and our state. We are ready to discuss how this law will be implemented, but let’s wait for the conclusions of the Venice Commission. This is the only authoritative European body that can provide conclusions and recommendations. When we have them, we, deputies, consider them, not Hungarians or Romanians. And we will determine whether to make changes to the law or not.
Therefore, alert of some of our neighbors about alleged violations of rights is groundless. Let them provide the Ukrainians with the same rights that exist in national minorities in Ukraine, and then we will talk to them.
Recently, Poland has abandoned the IMF costs – $ 8 billion. Is it possible to live without it? Ukraine lives on loans, but who will pay them back? Does someone of the authorities thinks about the future? From now bonds are sold for UAH 3 bln.
Poland did what obviously a normal state should do. There comes a period when the state feels the ability to independently give way to its economy and finances at the expense of proper management of the economy. Poles have achieved this, and we cannot judge them. The main thing is that they said: we do not need an IMF loan. I dream about the time when Ukraine will make the same statement and say that we have established our economy, financial system, everything goes up and we do not need the IMF money. And by refusing them, we abandon those conditions that very often contradict the interests of the Ukrainian people and our state. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian authorities have only learned to steal the state budget instead of developing the economy.
Often, people explains bad economic situation by world conspiracies. It is said about the idea of a visa-free travel that its true goal is to leave all adequate people out of here, and there remains a lumpens who will work like slaves for a certain oligarch.
I cannot agree with this concept, because those who wanted to leave, had already done this. Those who go for seasonal work just go. And nobody throws them in the way. Regarding the visa-free regime, it does not give citizens the right to work and study in the countries of the Schengen zone. If person does not return after three months, then she will be subject to sanctions, she will be banned from entering the Schengen area.
You are the head of the parliamentary association “Ukraine to NATO”. Most Ukrainians now want NATO, then in the EU. How fast can you go this way?
I believe that Ukraine’s course on membership in NATO and in the EU has no alternatives. When and how it will happen – another question. In my opinion, while we do not meet the criteria, we will remain dreamers. We must do our utmost to establish order in our economy, to assert the rule of law so that the fight against corruption is effective. And only then can we hope for membership in the European Union.
Economic reforms, rather than these so-called reforms that have recently been sold, should be pursued – medical, pension. As for NATO, the issue was complicated because Russian aggression. Taking into account the confusion factor of NATO at the beginning of Russian aggression and the fact that NATO barely recovered from such brazen behavior of Russia, I think that today we must put the connection between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and NATO on the agenda, thus preparing our country for accession. North Atlantic Alliance. It is now premature to demand a decision to join NATO. The Alliance will not be prepared to give Ukraine the right, like all its members, to use Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an attack on one state is an attack on everyone. That is, nobody in NATO is dreaming of fighting Russians for Ukraine. In practical terms, the question will arise only after the de-occupation of the Donbas and the Crimea.
Image credits: YouTube
Original article in Ukrainian is available here.