by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor
During an exclusive interview with our diplomatic affairs editor at his New Delhi office, Ivan Konovalov, Charge de Affairs a.i. at the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of India (concurrently in Sri Lanka), expressed his belief that Ukraine would achieve more victories on the battlefield this spring. He emphasized that the Ukrainian people have never desired to engage in war but were compelled to defend themselves against the aggression of Russia. Konovalov asserted that this conflict is imperialist in nature, indicating that Russia’s actions are driven by a desire for territorial expansion and control.
Furthermore, Konovalov stated that the victory of Ukraine would represent a triumph for democracy across the globe, as it would be a victory for the principles of self-determination and the right of nations to decide their own fate. He highlighted the importance of recognizing that the conflict in Ukraine is not merely a regional issue but rather a struggle for values that are fundamental to the democratic world. Ultimately, Konovalov’s comments underscore the ongoing importance of supporting Ukraine in its efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Excerpts from the interview;
Sri Lanka Guardian (SLG): You are playing a key role in these extraordinary times to protect Ukraine’s national interests; What challenges do you and your teammates face as a diplomat representing a country now at war with neighbouring Russia?
Ivan Konovalov (IK): Our small in comparison but capable team in the Embassy is working hard to change the perception of Ukraine in the countries of our accreditation – India, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal. It’s a priority for Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, as it is stated by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to work closer with the countries of Global South on different aspects of cooperation.
SLG: Exactly one year ago, Russia launched a limited military action against your country calling it “demilitarisation and denazification”. Please give a brief overview of the situation as this conflict has completed a year.
IK: First of all let us please use the right words (terms) and timings. It’s not just a conflict, and it’s not a limited military action. It’s Russian full scale war against Ukraine or Russian aggression against Ukraine. Russia is aggressor, Ukraine is a victim of Russian aggression.
In 2014 Russia started this war with illegal annexation of Crimea and further Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine.
So we have 9 years of Russian war against Ukraine and 1 year of full scale aggression against Ukraine.
As of now Ukrainian Armed Forces could kick out Russian occupiers from 40% of territories occupied since February 2022. This spring will bring more victories on the battlefield for Ukraine.
SLG: Some people are arguing that Ukraine is fighting someone else War; in fact, Ukraine is a “scapegoat”, they say. May I have your take, please?
IK: Ukrainians have never chosen war, it was imposed by Russia. This war is imperialist in its nature, one should understand this. Russia couldn’t accept the collapse of Soviet Union and if they conquered Ukraine – that would be just a first step, they would continue this barbaric practices with other countries which they consider to be the sphere of their interests.
We are fighting for our freedom and independence. we fight against Russia protecting others in Europe from this threat and our partners understand this very well.
Ukraine as any other democracy in the world wants to decide its destiny without external dictatorship which Russia tries to impose through our history.
We have our own will to join the EU and NATO as we consider ourselves as an integral part of Europe.
SLG: At the beginning of the conflict, both countries tried to find a solution through negotiation. Do you still believe that Ukraine can find a solution through negotiation? If not, what is the way out?
IK: Moscow has no intention for peace. When they talk about negotiations it means they want time to regroup and replenish supplies and further relaunch their attack on Ukraine. It’s obvious.
Negotiations can happen and should happen one day. But the reason for the negotiations about future peace deal can only begin after unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine within the internationally recognised borders including Crimea. This is also stated in the UN General Assembly Resolution as of 23 February 2023, which was supported by 141 countries.
SLG: What is the outcome of the 10 points peace formula introduced by your president but unfortunately, rejected by Russia stating that the formula is the basis for negotiations?
IK: Russia has not yet shown any readiness to bring a lasting peace, and continues to perpetrate international terrorism, commit genocide against Ukrainians, and commit war crimes.
The Peace Formula’s ten elements, which may be followed collectively or individually, have the potential to bring about long-term peace in Ukraine, Europe, and the globe. We welcome countries from all across the world to join us in making it a reality.
The EU has approved President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula and committed to actively working with Ukraine to put it into action, which demonstrates that the Formula is completely consistent with core European values and ideals.
Ukrainian Peace Formula is based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country, with any aggression against a sovereign country being completely unacceptable and those responsible for any
such acts facing justice.
SLG: Do you think NATO and Western countries, who are pouring military equipment, will stand with Ukraine to find a lasting solution soon?
IK: We are deeply grateful to all our allies and all peace-loving states of the world for their support in our fight against evil. Russia has to be defeated so this won’t repeat in future. Our partners are clear – they will stand with Ukraine as long as it takes, till the victory.
Victory of Ukraine is a victory of a democratic world.
SLG: You are representing Ukraine in South Asia; tell us your take on the responses you have from the countries here.
IK: The countries of our accreditation don’t support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and this is very important. We are grateful for this position. I believe there is much more we can do to deepen our relationship on the mutually beneficial basis.