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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Transferred to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid