Friday, 15 December 2017 | News today: 7

Honcharuk: Bloodshed can only be stopped by unified society

The international community has already been reassured that weakening, undermining of national sovereignty of one country, can pose a threat to general security and precisely that equal dialogue among sovereign states, based on international law, remains to be the key factor in global stability

Ukrainian Ambassador to Macedonia Yurii Honcharuk, in an interview with “Republika” talks about the contradictions in the Ukrainian society and about the political and security challenges of his country. In terms of the position of Ukraine on the global geopolitical map, Honcharuk claims that his country has not left the  ‘neutral country’ status, and warns that Russia’s behavior increasingly pushes it toward NATO. At the same time, the ambassador criticizes the indecisiveness and inconsistency of the West to stop the aggression of Moscow. 

For almost a year now, there has been a fratricidal war in eastern Ukraine.  The Ukrainian society is deeply divided. Eastern Ukraine is inclined toward Russia, while western Ukraine toward Western Europe. Is there any politician in Ukraine that can unite the people and to stop the bloodshed?

HONCHARUK: There is an impression that Ukraine consists of only of two parts – western and eastern. Then the question arises: where is the boundary between them and which Ukraine has more – the western or the eastern. This is a simplified approach to understanding the real situation, which is constantly imposed on the Ukrainian society and the world public with a set and clear purpose. With the same purpose as the ‘New Russia’ project, who is born in the Kremlin, the myth of persecution of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and the like, to engrave in the mind the fact that there can be no unified Ukraine and to complete the work with practical actions. Now the world has witnessed such a situation. In the context of what is happening, it would be ridiculous to deny the existence of contradictions in the Ukrainian society. They existed and still exist. It is the previous leadership to blame for that, but also the whole society, regardless of who was inclined toward whom because they all sailed along the flow. In addition, certain political forces deliberately exacerbated the situation. This was skillfully used by the external forces hostile to the Ukrainian independence, which also did not sit idle. For centuries, it has been discussed about the role of the people in history. So, if it is true that history is a process that creates a connection between the past, present and future, in that case such a politician who can stop the bloodshed must become the society itself, its unity, because without unity of society no politician has chance of success.

Russia repeatedly emphasizes that it does wants to make war with the brotherly people of Ukraine, but that also it will not allow the expansion of NATO to its borders. Do you think it is possible for Moscow to ever peacefully accept the tanks of NATO on its border?

HONCHARUK: If  there are tanks on the border, it means that they are preparing to cross it. The Russian tanks has been on our border since March last year and they have already crossed. Russia has a common border with four NATO countries. And she does not call them “brotherly”…

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Why turning to NATO is a better choice for Ukraine than maintaining the status of “neutral country”? Why has Ukraine decided that it is better for it to tip the balance of power?

HONCHARUK: Neutrality not only is the own desire of a country, but it presents also certain obligations and conditions under which it can occur. For example, the absence of foreign military bases on the territory of a neutral country. In our case, the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. There is no need to explain how that presence in March 2014 turn out for us.

Neutrality, it is legal and international guarantee. Ukraine has “experience” there as well. You well know the Budapest Memorandum of December 5, 1994, under which Ukraine in exchange for voluntarily giving up nuclear weapons received a guarantee for sovereignty and security of nuclear states.

Especially Russia, Britain and the United States reaffirmed their “obligations to refrain from the threat of force or its use against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine, except in case of self-defense or otherwise, in accordance with the Constitution of the United Nations. “

 Russia gave up its signature, perhaps with ” the purpose of self-defense.” We do not disrupt the balance of power. It has been disrupted by Russia. The question of Ukraine joining NATO is hypothetical, the actions of the Russian Federation are practical. With its actions the Russian Federation itself contributes to our entry into the alliance: the Ukrainian society now mostly believes that NATO membership would have saved us from the Russian aggression. Ordinary citizens are not burdened with problems of balance of power in times when we have a dangerous enemy at our door.

The European Parliament recently approved for member states to supply Ukraine with weapons. Do you think it will help in conflict abatement?

HONCHARUK: What you refer to as ‘conflict’ is actually Russian aggression. To a certain point only, in Donbas, but it is still an aggression. And we have to stand up against it. And, as you already know, only an upstanding resistance can stop the aggressor. Modern and highly precise weapon can help it, which we lack, since Ukraine has never braced itself for such war, unlike our eastern neighbor. Besides, Ukrainian army has been consistently destroyed during the term of the previous president. At the same time, weapons supply is also a powerful psychological signal by the West to Russia, indicating they are no longer afraid of it. It’s not meaningless that Russian officials always react anxiously whenever there is an information of possibility of American weapons supplies, which – in their opinion – can lead to further destabilization of the current situation, i.e. Russian weapon is a stabilizing factor, therefore its amount keeps increasing.

Some moderate western politicians think the most realistic outcome is coming up with such status from Crimea, which  both Ukraine and Russia could live with. Do you believe it is possible?

HONCHARUK: Actually, some of those – which you call moderate western politicians – are quite interested in Ukraine giving up part of its territory, to come to peace with Crimea’s annexation to their pleasure. They would like to remain aside. This is also called “conciliation of the aggressor” or, unlearned history lessons. There is a wise Russian saying for that: “Give him a finger, and he bits off the entire arm”. Last year’s developments prove it  – “moderate western politicians” did not stop Russia in Crimea, and Donbas followed. They will not stop it in Donbas – than the “moderate western politicians” will be talking of Donbas’ status, as well.

Is Ukraine actually a collateral damage of the great world powers fight for global dominance?

HONCHARUK: Russia is fighting for global dominance – that sounds terrifying, but is actually unrealistic. Even limited-size western sanctions showed the vulnerability of its economy. There is no point in considering global dimensions with such economy. Ukraine does not suffer because “the great powers” are fighting for dominance in the world, but because the West shows indecisiveness and inconsistency regarding Russia’s aggressive actions. I would not like to make any accusations, but a decisive démarche of the West would have saved thousands of lives in Ukraine and in Russia. Just like timely opening of the Second Front in Europe would have significantly approximated victory over Nazi Germany.

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Both parties accuse of participation of foreign fighters. Which are the countries whose fighters are involved in the Ukrainian war?

HONCHARUK: Why accuse? This is a realistic fact. It is hard to say which countries are represented in fights in Ukraine, but one is obviously dominant. I am sorry, I am referring to Russia again. Its mercenaries. It is all based on a solid organizational foundation. “Mercenaries” are being recruited through military commissariats and various veterans funds. In Russia, they have also come up with another type of “mercenary” – as “soldiers on vacation”, who were arriving to Ukraine, carrying their military equipment. There are, of course, “romanticists” who arrive to Ukraine on their own. Recently, a presentation of mercenaries’ uniforms was held in Yekaterinburg, manufactured by “Уралспецзащитa”. According to information, “mercenaries” in Donbas “will not be regular people, but professionals – military veterans”, not just some “romanticists”. The only thing Russia is hiding is participation of the regular army, which – in order to be invisible – is fighting without carrying any emblems. Together, they comprise no less than two thirds of the terrorist forces.

In your opinion, can the destiny of Your country have any implications of Macedonia, as well?

HONCHARUK: We live in a mutually connected world and we must take the cruel reality into consideration. What is now happening in Ukraine is already affecting the situation in Europe in various areas: politics, economy, humanitarian aspect etc. I could have never imagined such development of relations with Russia. The common sense still refuses to accept the obvious, hence we need to be prepared for anything. Vladimir Putin himself has been warning on the possibility of such development ever since two years ago. On 4 November 2012, during the reception in Kremlin on the occasion of the Day of National Unity, he stated: “…in today’s world, the issue of a country’s sustainability comes first”.

The international community has already been reassured that weakening, undermining of national sovereignty of one country, can pose a threat to general security and precisely that equal dialogue among sovereign states, based on international law, remains to be the key factor in global stability. If Crimea’s annexation is not undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty, than what is it? If the “New Russia” project is not weakening of Ukraine’s sovereignty, than what is it? If Donbas events – with direct Russian intervention – do not pose a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty, than what is it?

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By: Nenad Mircevski

Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski