In the face of Russia’s recent unprecedented moves towards Ukraine, the country should be admitted to the NATO alliance, said Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkiye on Wednesday.
“The greatest answer to (Russian aggression against Ukraine) would be to ensure the security of the European continent and accept Ukraine into NATO,” Vasyl Bodnar told a news conference at the embassy residence.
When asked at if a full-fledged war could break out, he said the information he has suggests Russia lacks the capabilities, but that it is prepared for local operations and provocations in specific regions.
“We’re ready for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
On Russia’s recognition this week of separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine and the deployment of troops there, Bodnar called these actions a flagrant breach of both Ukrainian sovereignty and international law.
Moscow’s actions are exacerbating the crisis in the region, he added.
The Russian-backed side violated a cease-fire in Donbas, eastern Ukraine 96 times, using heavy weaponry banned under the 2014 Minsk Accord 81 times, resulting in the destruction of civilian residences and infrastructure, said Bodnar.
Although the sanctions announced this week should have been imposed as early as 2014, he said, Ukraine is still glad that the US, UK, and Germany imposed sanctions in response to Russian aggression.
“Better late than never,” he remarked, adding: “We hope these sanctions will get stronger as Russian aggression escalates.”
According to the envoy, Ukraine’s defense capabilities and economy should be reinforced, as sanctions alone will not bring the desired results.
“The invading aggressor state should understand this: the Ukraine campaign will not be easy,” he warned, adding that the Ukrainian armed forces and people are ready to defend themselves.
While Ukraine was promised security guarantees as part of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and it gave up its nuclear arsenal accordingly, he argued that the current tensions call into question the international security architecture.
The ambassador said diplomatic efforts may be used to resolve the ongoing crisis with Russia, and he praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s willingness to negotiate between the two countries.
“We are open to all formats of negotiation, including the Antalya Diplomacy Forum,” he said, referring to an event in southern Turkiye set for March 11-13, adding that Moscow should also have the political will to resolve the matter through diplomacy.
“For now, the key to peace belongs to a single person. And, he is Putin. Expanding the armed aggression or returning to the negotiation table is up to him,” he asserted.
* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas
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