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

Video Biden Attends Services at Emanuel AME

Biden said he came to Sunday’s services because he and his family wanted to show solidarity with the families and the church More

Diverse Nation

Here's why minorities could become the US majority sooner than expected More

Rush of Same-Sex Marriages Follows US Supreme Court Ruling

But swift backlash from conservative groups foreshadows battles ahead 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs