Blocking arms supplies by Germany. How should Ukraine react: ‘5 questions’ with expert Oleksandr Kraiev

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Head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov accused Germany of blocking the supply of weapons to Ukraine through NATO. Despite the fact that now there is a threat of a new full-scale invasion of Russia to Ukraine.

Why did this happen and what should Ukraine do? Expert of the Foreign Policy Council ‘Ukrainian Prism’ Oleksandr Kraiev speculated upon the issue in the program ‘5 questions’ on the air of UA TV channel.

Oleh Borysov hosts the program.

– The German newspaper ‘Bild’ stated that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally blocked the supply of weapons to Ukraine within NATO. How will Ukraine react to this?

– One should not think that this is the position of Germany and that it is somehow specific to the Ukrainian case. If we look at how Germany has behaved in the format of a NATO operation over the last 20-25 years, Germany has always tried to avoid the issue of arms, military personnel and military operations as such.

For example, given the situation with the operation in former Yugoslavia, the Germans provided only transport aircraft and a very limited contingent. The operation in Afghanistan took place for the Germans as an infrastructure and economic mission. As for the other peacekeeping operations, in the UN format, the Germans also avoided the use of weapons and any supplies. Therefore, Ukraine, being a very sensitive topic for the Germans, being a big problem for the German economy and politics, also fell into this general trend.

– What should Ukraine do now in terms of foreign policy?

– We have a situation where we need to create a good basis for domestic policy for an effective and efficient foreign policy. When our Western partners tell us about reforms, about making certain changes, it is not easy to create a good picture.

It must be understood that a good, functioning system of domestic policy with a normal, working market economy, with a judicial system that truly provides justice; with anti-corruption bodies that can work – all this will be able to provide us with foreign policy that really works. What is an independent foreign policy? This is an opportunity to ensure one’s safety to a certain extent. This is an opportunity to be not only a recipient of aid, but also useful to allies. And this is an opportunity to have own course at least at the regional level. And for all this, we first need to recreate an adequate internal system – political, economic and social.

It works for us, but we have a lot of gaps that need to be filled. Therefore, in order to implement a normal foreign policy, we need to strengthen ourselves and be responsible for most of our issues. That is, actually doing what the West asks us to is even better.

– After the conversation between U.S. and Russian Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, Russia did not withdraw its troops from Ukrainian borders. Russia uses puling troops as a way to put pressure on both Ukraine and the EU. Do they see it in Europe?

– Yes, Europe sees it, so we must understand that this conversation was not the last. We see a certain strategy of Moscow – they need to constantly support its authority, as they say. They always need a reason to be present at high-level international negotiations. Even if it’s just a bilateral summit with Washington.

It also shows that the Russians now have no reason to de-escalate the situation or withdraw troops. Europe also understands this, and the West in general understands this. Therefore, the concessions that Washington made are actually cosmetic. The lifting of sanctions – meaning the lifting of sanctions on Russia’s foreign debt – is corrected by literally one decision of the executive branch. It really can all go back.

The West sees and understands this, so, first of all, it is in no hurry to escalate, but it does not retreat in all directions.

– Meanwhile, the Verkhovna Rada supported the law on the admission of units of foreign armed forces to the territory of Ukraine to participate in multinational exercises. 318 MPs voted in favor. How will Russia react to this?

– If we lived in an ideal world and believed that the Russian Federation could adequately respond to the adequate actions of other countries, I would say it would not react. Because every year the Verkhovna Rada, like the parliaments of other democracies, votes on the rule that foreign troops can enter military exercises on our territory. This is a perfectly normal legislative procedure that is repeated year after year. But, of course, on the part of the Russian Federation, after the statement about the deployment of NATO legions here, about illegal training, etc., we really should expect, if not escalation, then at least enough hysterical reaction.

But I will be an optimist and say that this will not change the situation much. It is rather just a continuation of the Russian narrative that we depend on the West, which is really a myth.

– What can Ukraine do now to strengthen its domestic policy?

– We need to become more pragmatic. Almost to the point of cynicism. Because very often in many key points of our relations with partners we follow the same line, thinking that each allied country perceives it equally. In fact, even within geographical Europe, there is a great difference in the interests of different countries. Therefore, we cannot approach, say, Great Britain and Germany with the same tools, or the same demands.

We need to understand that the Germans cannot provide us with weapons, this is an axiom of their foreign policy. So we need to think about what we can talk to them about, what to offer, and what they can offer us. Britain intends to expand its influence in the East, it wants to become strong again. How can we help it, how will it help us? That is, we need to look pragmatically at our relations with other states and differentiate them. Understand that you can’t use same tools to work with different cases. That is, we should really become pragmatic politicians.

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