News / Europe

Column: Ukraine Diplomat's Job Complicated by Russia

FILE - Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Olexander MotsykFILE - Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk
x
FILE - Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk
FILE - Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk

Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk blasted Russia in an interview for instigating a “hybrid war” against his country, supporting separatists he sees as “terrorists.”

The veteran diplomat said he couldn’t have imagined the turn of events that led to such bold pronouncements and greatly changed his diplomatic life. Motsyk has represented Ukraine in the United States since 2010.

Now, Motsyk is essentially a wartime diplomat, working nearly around the clock. “It would be difficult for any ambassador if your country is under attack,” he observed.

Ukraine’s top diplomat in Washington spends a great deal of time trying to get U.S. military aid, requesting World Bank and International Monetary Fund economic assistance and lobbying the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress for help. He's also seeking support for such diplomatically difficult actions as sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy.

'Most horrible dream'

Motsyk said in the lengthy interview he never imagined being ambassador in the current scenario “even in the most horrible dream.... What happened was the Ukrainian people clearly expressed their will to integrate into the European Union, to be a democratic country, to be a prosperous country. And we are now paying the price for that.”

Russia says its actions in Crimea were designed to protect a Russian-speaking population on its border. The Putin Administration also denies the Russian military is involved in aiding government building and land seizures by armed men in Eastern Ukraine, where areas like Donetsk are becoming internationally-known trouble spots.

But “the total picture is quite clear” in Motsyk’s view. “The Russian Federation under the totally trumped-up pretext invaded Crimea, annexed Crimea. And now we [have] the number two stage of this aggression, namely the cowardly operation in Eastern Ukraine by the terrorists,” he said.

“Half of them are Russian citizens with Russian passports,” he charged, linking them to Russian special forces. Motsyk described the armed separatists as  “militants who come to Ukraine from Russia” with “armaments including heavy weapons, tanks and artillery systems….It’s very difficult to imagine somebody else armed them."

Ukraine and Ambassador Motsyk face a number of daunting challenges. They include:

A fragile ceasefire - Diplomats are frantically trying to stop the fighting between Ukraine’s military and separatists. But a major ceasefire fell apart recently after ten troubled days.

“It was ignored by the terrorists,” Motsyk claimed. “Ukrainian armed forces, border guard, national guard were attacked for these ten days more than 100 times. We lost 28 troops killed and more than 70 wounded.”

“If Russia stops supporting terrorists, then we will find a diplomatic solution with this situation in a very short” time.  But if fighting continues, “We will win the war,” Motsyk said with battlefield bravado.

Threats from Russia - When the ceasefire broke down, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rebuffed direct efforts by him and Western diplomats to continue the ceasefire. Putin warned ominously that Poroshenko now has “full responsibility” for Ukraine’s new military offensive.

Definitely we are worried about this threat,” Ukraine’s Motsyk admitted. But “we…are ready to defend our country... our sovereignty… our people.” 

Motsyk was quite forthcoming about the recent Association Agreement between the Ukraine and the European Union, which further angered Russia and brought barely veiled threats of at least economic boycotts.We clearly understand that the Russians are not happy with the signing of this agreement,” he said. “But Ukraine is definitely happy.

“We are talking about freedom of speech, about human dignity. Ukraine would like to enjoy the same values that the European countries, that the United States enjoy.”

But he pointed out Moscow can also lose historical trade ties with Ukraine, if it retaliates for the EU agreement. “Yes, Russia is much bigger country. In this economic pressure, we can lose more,” Motsyk admitted, “but Russia will lose as well.”

Despite his often fiery rhetoric against Russia, Motsyk was cautious over what Putin has said he fears is Ukraine’s end goal: having a NATO defense alliance member country on its borders. In a seeming effort to prevent further provocation of Russia, he ducked questions about whether NATO membership was Ukraine’s ultimate goal.

Seeking more punitive sanctions against Russia - Russia “has to pay a price,” for violating international law, Motsyk declared. “We believe that sanctions are quite effective instruments in order to [prevent] further escalation of the situation in the eastern part of Ukraine.”

The ambassador revealed a very ambitious wish list for new penalties to follow the second level of relatively modest U.S. and EU sanctions imposed against Russia individuals and companies. “The third level of sanctions presumably should include the banking sector, energy sector and IT sector.”

In Washington, Ukraine has had a great deal of support from the Obama Administration in its struggles with Putin’s more powerful Russia.

“We highly appreciate that the United States is leading on this process,” said Motsyk.

But so far, increasing sanctions to such a level has drew the ire of powerful members of the American business community.

Warnings issued

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers recently took out a full-page ad in major American newspapers, warning against further U.S. sanctions. A  headline in red ink warned “America’s Interests Are at Stake in Russia and Ukraine.”

The ad stated, “The only effect of such sanctions is to bar U.S. companies from foreign markets and cede business opportunities to firms from other countries.”

Add to that concern, a cautious Europe, which is worried about a loss of energy supplies and lucrative trade from significant sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian diplomat Motsyk has dealt with internal turmoil along with external threats in a turbulent year.

When former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych balked at signing the EU agreement in fear of Moscow, there were rallies in the street with protesters getting shot by government snipers.  The embassy “strongly protested those killings,” Motsyk said. The government fell soon after the violence.

“We live through… maybe the most difficult period in the modern history of Ukraine,” the ambassador of the troubled country observed. “But I am sure and I believe Ukraine will survive."


Lee Michael Katz

Lee Michael Katz is an award-winning journalist, analyst and author.

Currently a prominent freelance writer, Katz is the former Senior Diplomatic Correspondent of USA Today and International Editor of UPI News Service.He has reported from more than 60 countries.  Katz’s expertise includes foreign policy and diplomacy, peace talks, national security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction policy, foundation grants, business and financial topics.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (3)
Comments
     
by: Vasja Pupkin from: Khabarovsk
July 08, 2014 10:11 AM
О Lоrd, оpеn tо аll еуеs! О Lоrd, sаvе аnd prоtесt сiviliаns аnd militiа! Mу Gоd, stоp thе wаr!


by: alexander m swan from: USA
July 07, 2014 8:28 PM
The Ukraine should be divided into 2 divisions, one is for pro-Russia and the other is for the pro-EU to avoid further bloodshed. The USA and EU should not try to recruit Ukraine in to NATO because it can create an imbalance in the maintenance of Peace in the Europe. Both the east and the west do not get mutual benefit from it but will bring the situation back to the cold war mentality.


by: meanbill from: USA
July 07, 2014 7:04 PM
AFTER all the US and EU propaganda?.... IF ONLY the US and EU hadn't interfered, and had waited on the signed Yanukovych "Transition Deal" dated February 21, 2014 to take place.... (but instead), the US and EU, immediately recognized the neo-Nazi, Right Sector, and other extremist right-wing groups that the seized the Ukraine government by force..... (and then), recognized them as the new legal Ukraine government, without any elections..... (If only the US and EU hadn't interfered?)

The pro-Russians in Crimea, fearing this illegal seizing of the Ukraine government by these neo-Nazi, Right Sector, and other ultra-right wing extremists, (with US and EU support), voted to secede from Ukraine to avoid political exclusion, and persecution.... and now the pro-Russians in south eastern Ukraine want autonomy too...... (and everybody knows, when the US, EU, and NATO countries interfere in other countries politics, what it causes, don't we?).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid