Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Georgia, Vasil Tsibenko, is answering the questions of the Editor of Georgianreview.ge, Irakli Tabliisahvili.
-Mr. Ambassador, first of all, our readers are interested in the present situation in Ukraine. How strong is the new Government? Does it control the developments not only in the central and western regions of the country but in its South as well?
The situations is Ukraine is still very complicated and we all know the reasons behind it – annexation of Crimea by Russia, a hybrid war supported and imposed by Russia in Donbas, and the economic problems generated as a result of the two above reasons.
Under such conditions, The President of Ukraine had to solve the problems that our state encountered for the first time.
In my personal opinion, at this stage we have managed to give a fitting rebuff to the threats and challenges the country is facing.
The outcomes we are witnessing now are the following – Russian plan to create “Novorossya” has failed; international community demonstrated its wide and consistent support to our territorial integrity and sovereignty; and finally, several authoritative international organizations assessed Russian aggression and condemned it.
The present Government is unanimous and united around the statehood issues like never before. It not only controls the situation in the country, but it also strives to actively influence the developments of the processes; to the extent possible, it does everything to restore peace and establish law and order in every region except for particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In addition, we have quite a big number of young and ambitious people working in the Government presently who understand what’s going on in the country quite well. When the Government of Ukraine was weak, divided and uncoordinated, it used to be easy loot for domestic as well as for foreign enemies.
-Do you think the support of the West is sufficient? How should Russia, which does not hide its goals concerning Ukraine, be bridled?
We are very grateful to the West for the support Ukraine received during its hard time.
The situation in Ukraine would have been radically different if not the support and efforts of the West. It was absolutely obvious from the very beginning that the Russian actions aimed at dividing the country and forming pro-Russian formations and enclaves under the pretext of protecting Russian-speaking population.
Have their plans changed so far? No, of course they haven’t. The separatists of Donetsk and Luhansk, who are still controlled and managed by the Kremlin, regularly violate the Minsk Agreement, open fire at civilians and Ukrainian army. As a result, about one hundred of our soldiers have died since the Ceasefire Agreement. Russia is still trying to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, strengthen the dissatisfaction of our citizens, and succeed in declaring the vote of no confidence against the Ukrainian Government. A very strong anti-Ukrainian Russian propaganda mechanism is aimed at achieving this goal, and we have to admit that it is quite effectively operated by Russian media.
That’s why the economic and political sanctions imposed on Russia should not only be retained, but become more severe. That should be done in order to establish peace in Ukraine and the region. The Kremlin should realize that the violation of internationally recognized norms will not be left without a relevant response of the civilized world.
The more I observe the current developments, the more I get inclined to think that if the West had not limited itself to resolutions and announcements in the August 2008 Georgia-Russia war and had carried out more radical measures, Russia would not have dared annex Crimea and wage war against Ukraine.
Many western analysts believe that the end game of Russia is not Donbas or Mariopul, but the capital of Ukraine – Kiev. Wesley Clark, for example, a former US general, stated that Russia will assault Kiev. Do you think such thing may happen? What is Russia actually striving for?
It is not a secret for many politicians and experts that Russia will do anything to retain Ukraine within the frames of its own sphere of interests.
Of course, it will not be difficult to do if a swan, a crawfish, and a pike are in the Government, and if there is chaos, war and destruction in the country.
Fortunately, the attitude of Ukrainian society has significantly changed, especially after Maidan. Our society has become more demanding towards itself and the Government and ready to solve the problems accumulated during years.
This is an obvious sign that the country will change for the better. But we should remember that changing for the better does not fall within Russia’s plans because successful Ukraine means the defeated Kremlin, and Russia will never put up with that.
It is absolutely obvious that their future actions will be directed to aggravate tension in Donbas. It is significant for Moscow to create not only a frozen conflict, but to transform it into a bleeding wound for Ukraine that will hamper internal reforms of the country, cause outflow of human and financial resources and stagnate its movement to Europe and NATO. The fact is that neither the EU or NATO wishes to have a member state at war. That’s what Russia counts on. That’s what mattered in Moldova and Georgia.
How important are reforms for the countries at war? Does the Government have time and desire to implement reforms? How rapid is the pace and what are the problems Ukraine is facing now?
As I have already noted, wide-scale reforms are as important as neutralization of separatism and external aggression. The future of the state depends just on the pace and efficiency of the reforms. Hence, the process of transformation of all spheres is indispensible and irrevocable.
I agree that our Government does not have much time. However, it realizes that there is no other way. The life itself dictates that we need to reform our economy, eradicate corruption, attract investments, and create modern conditions to develop business and citizen initiatives. We have already made significant steps in this direction: the Parliament has adopted relevant laws, the anti-corruption bureau has been created, the process of administration of taxes has been simplified, and foreign experts have been invited to the Government, among them are Georgians, too.
I would like to underline that the decision of the Ukrainian Government to appoint former Georgian Government members to high positions is in no way directed against Georgia or Georgian people. The decisions were only dictated by Ukrainian national interests.
What would you say about current Georgian-Ukrainian relationships? What are the perspectives for these relations? Are there any impediments? Our readers would also like to know your opinion about President Margvelashvili’s visit to Kiev a few weeks ago.
I am going to say without any histrionics that despite very hard period for Ukraine, Georgian-Ukrainian relations are successfully developing. The support rendered by Georgian Government is highly appreciated in Ukraine.
The support of your country on the international arena is also very important for us. In this respect, our goals are in absolute harmony and that enables us to unite our efforts and direct them at achieving success
Conclusion of Association Agreements and their implementation by our countries create vast opportunities for joint actions.
These and other issues of mutual interests were openly and constructively discussed during President Margvelashvili’s and the Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili’s visits.
All the above once again confirms that presently, like in the past, Georgia and Ukraine need each other. Our countries share not only long, common past but splendid future as well. The friendship of our nations that has been lasting for many centuries will serve as the foundation for strong and continued cooperation between Ukraine and Georgia in the future.