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The Interview – Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian regions changes ‘nothing’, Ukraine’s FM says

by Marc PERELMAN
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world news / Shows / The Interview Issued on: 30/09/2022 – 13:55

12:19

In an interview with FRANCE 24 from Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba struck a defiant tone, saying that the planned annexation this Friday by Russia of four Ukrainian regions following so-called referendums changes “nothing” for Ukraine and the world. The top Ukrainian diplomat said that the annexations and the recent partial mobilisation in Russia were a “sign of weakness” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that “many Russians will die simply because Putin can’t recognise that he is losing this war”.

The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the annexation by Russia of four regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – where so-called referendums were held this week changed “nothing” for his country and the world. He said that Russia did not even control all of those areas, adding that Ukrainian forces were actually “progressing well” in the Donetsk region, in particular around the railway hub of Lyman. He added that the annexation meant that talking to Vladimir Putin now made no sense. 

Asked about the Russian claim that a deadly missile strike this Friday in the region of Zaporizhzhia was carried out by Ukraine, Kuleba called this “a lie” and said there was “clear evidence” that Russia is responsible, calling it a mere continuation of its “terrorist tactics” in the whole country.

He urged the world not to be afraid of the threat by Russia to use tactical nuclear weapons, calling it an “act of desperation”.

Criticism of EU sanctionsFor the first time since the onset of the war, Kuleba criticised the new EU sanctions package being discussed, saying it did not “correspond to the level of threat that Russia’s attempted annexation and continued aggression poses to Europe”. He pointed to energy, banking and nuclear cooperation as sectors where harsher European sanctions should be implemented.

Kuleba regretted that Germany was unwilling to supply Ukraine with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. “If we ask for tanks in order to protect Europe from Russia, then we should be given those tanks,” he said.

Impact of the conflict on AfricaHe went on to express hope that more African countries who stayed neutral on the war in Ukraine were now coming to realise the impact of the conflict on food security, as well as the risk that the invasion of a sovereign state could in turn “reshape borders” on the continent. 

Kuleba denied Putin’s claims that the grain exported from Ukraine through the Black Sea was going to rich countries, calling it “a lie” and saying that the majority of cargo was being shipped to Africa and Asia.

The Ukrainian foreign minister hinted that only a special tribunal would be able to judge Putin for the crime of aggression, given that there are “legal obstacles” for the International Criminal Court to do so. 

Finally, Kuleba argued that Putin’s planned annexations and recent mobilisation of troops in Russia were a “sign of weakness”. However, he warned that the Russian leader and his inner circle would not be the ones dying in Ukraine. “Many Russians will die simply because Putin cannot recognise that he is losing this war,” he concluded.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © France Médias Monde graphic studio

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