Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor.
While sanctions against individuals are helpful, sectoral sanctions are needed if Western democracies hope to deter Russia from further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, says Ukraine’s Foreign Minister.
Speaking to around 100 foreign journalists from more than 30 countries, representing 14 time zones, during an online conference April 20, Dmytro Kuleba raised this issue twice – once during his opening remarks and once during the question-and-answer period.
He said that he had discussed sectoral sanctions with European Union ministers but there was no consensus.
Responding to a question emailed by New Pathway – Ukrainian News asking which specific sectors should be targetted, the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied: “First of all, the military industry, energy, construction, aero-space and financial sectors of Russia. The pressure continues growing permanently in response to the Russian aggressive acts. This path must be kept until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is fully restored.”
“Against the backdrop of the ongoing Russian destructive policies, a strong international response, including sanctions and other restrictive measures, remains an effective tool to prevent escalation and ensure responsibility of Russia for its internationally wrongful acts,” they added.
Kuleba, who held the conference two days before Russia announced it is withdrawing it troops from the borders of Ukraine, said the buildup is expected to reach a combined force of 125,000 troops within a week.
“This lesson is that anything can be expected from the Russian leadership — even if we speak about seemingly irrational decisions,” he noted.
Kuleba stressed that “Ukraine has never sought and will never seek any escalation. We are devoted to searching for diplomatic and political means of resolving the Russian-Ukrainian seven-year conflict.”
The minister also offered three reasons for the Russian Federation’s buildup of troops:
- Russia aims to elevate pressure on Ukraine to resolve the war in Donbas by ultimatums not compromises;
- Russia wants to show the democratic western world that it will do whatever it decides to do regardless of sanctions;
- Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to reverse his and his party’s plunging ratings.
- Asked what Ukraine and the world could do to discourage Russia from escalating tensions, he replied that Ukraine’s partners have to be vocally supportive of Ukraine not only in communicating with Ukraine, but also in bilateral negotiations with Russia.
“Moscow must hear from every corner that Ukraine will not stand alone. Moscow must hear from every corner that is not just two sides — Ukraine and Russia — who bear responsibility for this escalation. It’s only Moscow that is undertaking a large military buildup. It’s only Moscow that is escalating the situation,” he stated.
The world also has to make it clear to Russia that any new escalation will have dire consequences, he noted explaining it is easier to prevent the escalation before it happens than to try and stop it once it does.
The third step for Ukraine’s partners is to internally discuss “how they could help Ukraine defend itself in the worst-case scenario. This includes deepening security and defense cooperation with Ukraine.”
NP-UN also emailed two other questions to the Press Office following the conference.
The first was: “In telephone conversations with both NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 6, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for their help in getting Ukraine on the MAP program. Did he get any response and what was it?
The response was:
“NATO membership is our strategic goal. The Ukrainian course on full-fledged membership in the EU and NATO is unchangeable and enshrined in the Constitution. Last year NATO recognized Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner. The pending logical step towards the Alliance is the Membership Action Plan in accordance with the Bucharest NATO summit decision, taken already 13 years ago.
“NATO member states remain committed to the 2008 Bucharest Summit decisions on Ukraine’s future membership in the Alliance. Ukraine highly appreciates it.
“We are grateful to the NATO Secretary General who on several occasions stated that whether a country becomes a member of NATO or not, is to be decided by that country and the NATO member states, no one else. We share this position that it is an absolute right for every sovereign nation to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of.
“We are deeply convinced that Membership Action Plan (MAP) will be a new strong incentive to Ukraine to proceed with reforms and to mobilize efforts to meet the criteria for membership.
“Ukraine is committed to reforms that would bring us to future EU/NATO membership. We count on the support of our partners to reach this ambitious goal.
”Ukraine is grateful for Canada’s practical assistance having been provided to Ukraine in our Euro-Atlantic path. Besides military equipment and military training programs, it also includes assistance in reforming the security and defence sector in compliance with NATO standards as well as a notable political support of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic ambitions. The status of the Embassy of Canada in Kyiv, jointly with the UK Embassy, as liaison offices with the North-Atlantic Alliance also reflects this support.
“We count on further Canadian active support in shaping a consensus among the allies regarding providing the MAP to Ukraine.”
The second was: ‘As it may take a while for the path to NATO to be brought into effect, what other forms of assistance does Ukraine need to battle Russian aggression and even defend against a full-blown invasion?”
The response was:
“Ukraine needs to be provided bilaterally with tangible security assistance for building new and interoperable defensive capabilities of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
“Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) status, which Ukraine was granted in June 2020, is a strong driver of the NATO-Ukraine agenda. Under the current circumstances, we will focus on enhanced realization of the EOP status, which is envisaged for deepening primarily the military-to-military cooperation with Allies.
“Intensification of assistance and NATO’s support within existing NATO-Ukraine cooperation mechanisms – Annual National Program, Comprehensive Assistance Package, Trust Funds are much welcomed as well.
“Ukraine is grateful to the Government of Canada for providing technical and security assistance to Ukraine. This international assistance provided jointly by the United States, the UK, Poland, Lithuania and other partners, has helped us to rebuild our Armed Forces, made them capable to fight back aggression and be more interoperable with NATO. The weapons, equipment and training of our military by NATO countries instructors proved to be a game-changer.
”Ukraine highly appreciates cooperation within the Canadian Military Training Mission (UNIFIER). Due to this program, about 25,000 Ukrainian servicemen have already been trained according to NATO standards.
“We are also actively discussing with our partners, in particular Canada, further strengthening of our military-defense cooperation. This cooperation also includes a political dimension. For example, in February the project ‘Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector in Ukraine’ was launched with the Parliament of Canada and Global Affairs Canada. We are convinced that by joint efforts we will be able to ensure the movement of security sector reform in Ukraine in the right direction and the development of our defense industry according to the best international standards.”