Ambassador's response to the article by Nicolai Petro for Guardian New East network.
It was not Ukraine that has chosen to sever all ties with Russia, as Nicolai Petro states in his article “Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever”. It was actually Russia that started its hybrid war against my country while attempting to annex Crimea and deploying its troops and weaponry to unleash a conflict in Donbas.
Moreover, it was Russia that has unilaterally decided to launch a trade war against Ukraine. De facto the Kremlin has been waging it since August 2013 while discouraging Ukraine from signing a landmark association and free trade agreements with the EU and exerting pressure to join a Moscow-led customs union instead. De jure the trade war has been in place since 1 January 2016, when Russia closed its borders to a range of Ukrainian meat, fish, dairy and vegetable products as part of the Kremlin response to Ukraine's decision to implement a free trade pact with Brussels.
It was Russia that has been constantly simulating the trilateral EU-Ukraine-Russia negotiation process, but in fact doing everything possible to block the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Despite of the Kremlin’s scaremongering, there is no incompatibility between the DCFTA and free trade with Russia. Still it was a political decision from Russia to abandon the free trade agreement that existed between Russia and Ukraine. For instance Serbia has free trade agreements both with the EU and Russia.
Ukraine’s decision to sever ties with Russia is far from being ideological as the article claims. Such a decision is a natural response to the bully next door who is doing its best to impose its will on a sovereign state.
After all, the advice to focus mainly on investments from Russia into Ukrainian economy seems as a mockery. Would you seek financial support from those responsible for ten thousand deaths, more than 1.7 million displaced Ukrainians and millions more who are suffering and whose rights are widely abused by Russian occupying authorities?
It is clear that Russia is using the fighting in eastern Ukraine with no aim to capture terrain but to grind down the Ukrainian economy. Russia’s intervention in Donbas and the seizure of Crimea lopped nearly 20% off Ukraine’s economic potential. And the country’s economy continues to bear this heavy burden as we are spending 5.2 per cent of our gross domestic product on defence.
However, for the last two turbulent years Ukraine has achieved tangible results in reforming the country. We ended up energy dependence on Russia. We have revived our armed forces and established completely new anti-corruption institutions.
Implementation of Association Agreement is called to accelerate these reforms and bring Ukraine closer to the EU and far from authoritarian Russia, who still clings to its ‘historic past’ while ruining its future.